hero image

Visiting Middle Of The World







An immense monument at the Middle of the World, commemorating the first French Academy of Sciences mission that had identified this as the location of the Equator in 1736.

Intro: On arrival back in Quito from the Amazon Rainforest, we headed straight out to the so-called Middle of the World, where the Equatorial line traverses Ecuador.

As they say, “There is no rest for the wicked”, and no sooner had we arrived back in Quito from the Amazon Rainforest and checked back into our hotel La Casona de la Ronda, then Charlene and I were heading back out for a bit of sightseeing. This time we were going to visit one of Quito’s most famous sites – the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo or Middle of the World City, believed by some to be where the Equator passes through Ecuador, and marked by a number of monuments and museums. It lies just 26 kilometers north of Quito and is shrouded in controversy, with modern GPS systems suggesting the line actually lies 240 meters to the north.

Fruit for sale on the side of the road, with not the most welcoming signage!

Nevertheless, we were heading to find out what it was all about with our private tour guide Gonzalo, who met us at La Casona de la Ronda Hotel. Although we had scheduled a sightseeing excursion with him on return from the Galapagos Islands, our flight had been delayed and we were forced to cancel, so it was nice to finally have the opportunity to meet him!

Just another mid-Monday afternoon traffic jam in the suburbs of Quito.

It took around 30 minutes to drive to the Middle of the World City in the mid-Monday afternoon traffic, and the skies remained dry despite clouds moving in. We arrived to discover a tall monument, commemorating the first French Academy of Sciences mission that had identified this as the location of the Equator in 1736.

Arriving at the Middle of the World and the Museo de Sitio Intiñan.

Apparently they compared distances between degree meridians in both the equatorial regions and at a site in Sweden, resulting in the line drawn on the ground today. But modern scientists using GPS technology believe it is actually just to the north.

Standing in opposite hemispheres at Ecuador’s Middle of the World City, located in Quito’s outskirts.

Whether this was the site of the Equatorial line or not, that didn’t detract from the fun we and all the other tourists had at the on-site Intiñan Solar Museum, built to mark the position of the Equator. Charlene and I posed for photos while standing on (supposedly) opposite sides of the Equator and watched as the tour guides demonstrated the difference in the direction a toilet flushes in each hemisphere.

The ethnography museum at Quito’s Middle of the World has exhibitions that detail the life and culture of many of Ecuador’s indigenous communities.

The Middle of the World City also includes a fascinating ethnography museum, all about the indigenous inhabitants of Ecuador. While we had literally experienced one of Ecuador’s indigenous communities first hand during our cultural village visit in the Amazon jungle, it was still interesting to wander around the exhibitions, which included a (fake) snake in a tank that i’m sure was put there specifically to put me on edge!

Straddling the original Equatorial line, as determined by the 18th century French mission.

After around 1 1/2 hours, Gonzalo drove us back into Quito, passing by some roadside food stalls that were busy with the after-work trade as people came and went about their daily lives. As the sun was setting, we stopped at a hillside where the landscape appeared as “burning” fields, with rich oranges and reds illuminating the sky offering a welcome return to the city.

The skies of Quito “burning” during our sunset drive home from the Middle of the World.


  • 1: Arrive early or later in the afternoon since this place is quite the tourist attraction.
  • 2: Embrace all the different exhibits (even the touristy ones) since your experience here will be one of a kind.
  • 3: If you’re stuck in traffic and near a fruit stand, ask if your guide can get you some native fruits to snack on while on your journey.
Scroll to top