Ecuador Attractions: Guayaquil
PARQUE DEL CENTENARIO (CENTENNIAL PARK)
This is the largest park in the downtown area of Guayaquil, and occupies four blocks. The main feature is the monument to the heroes of the Ecuadorian independence, surrounded by other monuments representing history, justice and heroism.
SIMON BOLIVAR: Simon Bolivar was born on July 24, 1783 in Caracas, Venezuela. He was educated by private tutors and influenced by the French political philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. He is called the Liberator (El Libertador) and is remembered as the South American soldier and statesman, who was the most significant leader in the struggle for South American independence from Spain. His birthday is a national holiday. He started revolting against the Spanish in Venezuela and 1810, finally obtaining the independence of Venezuela and becoming its President in 1817. Bolivar now broadened his vision of liberation to all of South America and went south; with the help from his trusted subordinate general Antonio Jose de Sucre, Bolivar freed Ecuador from the Spanish rule in May 24, 1822. He created later the Gran Colombia, formed by the united, liberated countries of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador; but in 1828 he resigned the Presidency because he could not maintain a political unity. He died on December 17, 1830 and the Gran Colombia dissolved.
THE METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral was originally built in wood in 1547, but fire consumed its structures more than once and it has been rebuilt several times. The present neo-Gothic style building was inaugurated in 1948. It has impressive glass work windows and a marble altar, brought from Cuenca. The Cathedral is located on Chimborazo and Clemente Ballén streets, opposite Simon Bolivar Park.
The Pier, known as Malecon 2000 has been transformed into the prettiest and most visited area of Guayaquil. This area has revived the traditional values of Ecuador, while returning the eyes of the people to the river. This new 2.5 km waterfront walk is home to entertainment, culture as well as nature.
The northern section boasts several plazas, water fountains, an antique Ecuadorian train, spaces for aerobics, skating and games for children, and will soon be home to a Planetarium, an anthropological Museum and a Contemporary Art Museum. A Fortress, complete with cannons, which served to defend Guayaquil against pirate attacks, is also available to explore. The central area of the waterfront walk is home the historic Civic Plaza with its sculptures, Rotonda Monument and the Moorish Clock Tower. The Guayaquil Yacht Club and the Naval Yacht club can also be found here. The ultramodern Bahia Malecon Shopping Center is located in the southern part of the walk. Strollers can stop and enjoy the terraces, restaurants and a spectacular view of the river. The Old South Market is being renovated to house a handicrafts market.
BARRIO LAS PEÑAS
This is the oldest area of the city with wooden houses and cobbled streets dating back to the 1500’s, lined along a narrow street with various levels of stairs and steps. At the top is Plaza Colon, where the cannons that guarded the city against pirates can still be seen. Las Peñas is best viewed bathed in full illumination in the evenings, to enjoy cozy bars, cafés and restaurants. Many of the houses have plaques and old photographs showing before and after renovation pictures.
Although few cemeteries can be considered a tourist attraction, this one is worth seeing. It has outstanding sculptures made of white marble. The style has a strong Italian influence. A beautiful stretch of palm trees leads to the grave of the past president, Vicente Rocafuerte.
HISTORICAL PARK OF GUAYAQUIL (PARQUE HISTORICO)
The Historical Park is divided in 3 zones:
Wildlife: The first area consist of 4 hectares (40.000 m2), an ample space for more than 50 species of birds, mammals and reptiles, not counting insects, crustaceans, fish and other animals found in this piece of protected mangrove forest which is their natural habitat, where the animals live in an almost free environment. The area of Wildlife is visited along raised boardwalk paths that allow close contact with the ecosystem without disturbing the animals. Along the way there are 23 informative stops which allow individualized observation of each species. The observation tower allows visitors to a bird’s eye view of the park, and bird nesting sites along the path complement the visit.
The Urban Architecture Area: It recreates a time of wealth in Guayaquil, when the cocoa beans exportations brought prosperity to the city and surrounding farms. During weekends, you can also observe the daily life of Guayaquil, with persons dresses in the French fashion that was so popular at the time, street vendors of sweets and tobacco. Also recreated is the electric tramway which was pulled by mules.
After the big fire in 1896 that practically destroyed all of Guayaquil, the city was rebuilt and modernized with the houses that can be seen, like the house of Julián Coronel, Banco Territorial, Casa Lavayen-Paredes (Green House) and the Hospice Corazón de Jesús which were rescued as cultural patrimony, and moved to this park.
The Banco Territorial was built in 1886 and used as a bank. The structure and second floor were made out of wood; zinc was used in the façade and bricks on the first floor.
The Hospice was built in 1892 for social assistance. Wood and bricks were used on the first floor and wood was used on the second floor.
Built in 1896, “La Casa Verde” was used as a residence. The first floor will have shops, craft workshops, an exposition room with the history of the building including its rescue and restoration.
The house of Julian Coronel was built during 1899 and 1900 with the second floor used for residential purposes while the first floor was used for commercial establishments. Wood and bricks were used on the first floor and wood was also used on the second floor.
The first floor will have a coffee shop and a restaurant. An exposition room with the history of the building including its rescue and restoration process will be located on the second floor.
Museums, restaurants and coffee shops, bank agencies, traditional workshops, audiovisual and exhibition room can also be observed.
Traditions Area: There is where you can meet the past and observe the life in the rural haciendas during the time of the boom of the cocoa production – which was known as the “Golden Seed”. Visitors are led through a cocoa producing hacienda to see the whole process from the plants to the finished chocolate. Ecuador’s economy was very rich, based on the agriculture exportation and production of cocoa. Handcrafting was also part of the farmers daily routine.