Enjoy the Simón Bolívar Park, also called “the park of the iguanas”, as they roam around the park undisturbed and perch on the treetops, blending perfectly with the green leaves. Beside the park is the neo-gothic Metropolitan Cathedral. Then drive to the Crystal Palace, the Integration Square, the Plaza of the Flags and the Plaza Olmedo, which are together to the southern side of Guayaquil’s ravishing Malecon 2000, a 2.5 Km. (1.5 mile) waterfront, running parallel to the River Guayas and featuring historical, cultural and entertainment areas. An easy walk leads to La Rotonda, which commemorates the meeting of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin.
To the north is Santa Ana Hill, and the oldest neighborhood of Guayaquil, Las Peñas, which has been beautifully restored with bright colored wooden constructions housing many art galleries. A view of Guayaquil’s cemetery allows the observation of outstanding marble sculptures by famous Italian artists.
Then, take the road to Samborondón to visit the Historical Park or Parque Histórico created by the Central Bank of Ecuador to preserve the culture and customs of the Ecuadorian coast. The park provides an opportunity to discover the traditions and roots of our culture. Visitors will enter an unknown part of the world.
The park is divided in three sections, each one dedicated to the preservation of an important part of our history: Wildlife, Urban-Architecture. and Traditions.
Wildlife Section: This area was designed to restore and preserve the original vegetation and wildlife of the ecosystems representative of this zone like mangrove, flooded savanna and tropical dry forest, which existed in abundance in the province of Guayas in the past.
Architectural Section: In the 1980’s the Central Bank of Ecuador rescued four building of historical significance and importance. These buildings have been being rebuilt at Parque Historico recreating the architectural style of the era through the design of interior and exterior spaces. This gives visitors a unique perspective of what Guayaquil was like in the early 20th century, and a feel of having traveled back in time.
Traditions Section: In this zone Parque Historico tries to establish a close encounter with the way of life, customs and production in the coastal countryside of the late 19th century and early 20th century, in which there was a resurgence of the national economy due to the cocoa production.
- Wear light clothes for warm weather, good walking shoes, hat or cap
- Average temperature during the day: 22° to 32° C / 70° to 90° F.
- Altitude: sea level
Some Special Highlights
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 OR SEMINARIO PARK
This Park boasts on its very center, the impressive Statue in honor of Simón Bolívar, the Liberator of South America. Here you also find colorful land iguanas roaming freely and undisturbed among the by passers or perched basking atop the tropical trees which cover the park.
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 help from his trusted subordinate General. Antonio Jose de Sucre, Bolivar freed Ecuador from the Spanish rule in May 24, 822.
He created 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 political unity. Simon Bolivar 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 famous Guayaquil Waterfront, called 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 along the shore of the mighty Guayas River 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, a superb Archaeological and Contemporary Art Museum, an ultra moder IMAX theater. 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, La 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, now completely renovated features the magnificent Crystal Palace, a perfect venue for cultural, social and even official events.
LA ROTONDA HEMICICLE STATUE
This historical monument is a spectacular semicircle commemorating the meeting of two Latin American liberators, Simón Bolívar and San Martin, when it was decided that Guayaquil be annexed to the Gran Colombia. The monument was designed and made by the Spanish Sculptor Jose Antonio Homs and finished in 1937. Bolivar was the famous Venezuelan liberator who brought freedom to Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador including his own country from the Spanish crown, while San Martin was the Argentinean equivalent freeing Argentina, Peru and Chile from the Spanish rule.
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 a former president on the early republican period, Vicente Rocafuerte.
The Pacific coast
From north to south, the coast of Ecuador is dotted with wide and lovely beaches, some pristine like Los Frailes, others with fishermen villages, fashionable resorts like Salinas or Bahia de Caraquez, modern cities and ancient archaeological sites.
Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, is a vibrant metropolis on the Guayas River delta, 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean. A busy port of imposing commercial buildings, baronial mansions, Guayaquil has rich museums, great sports centers, and daily musical events along its new waterfront. You must see the old section of Las Peñas to enjoy the grace and tranquility of the city's past.
This region also has archaeological remains of the oldest cultures ever found in the Pacific Coast of South America: Chorrera, Salango, Valdivia and Manteño. Its natural history is also unique, especially the protected coastal tropical dry forests, in Machalilla National Park. A 44-kilometer (28 miles) cruise to Isla de la Plata, rewards the traveler with some of the bird life found on the Galapagos Islands. And if your visit takes place between July and November, you will even see great humpback whales, migrating from Antarctica.