A journey through Guayaquil’s history and present

agencia andes
Photos: Jorge Barona/Andes

By Jorge Barona

Guayaquil, July 25 (Andes).-  We cannot talk about Guayaquil’s history without mentioning the Guayas River. This port city was born on the banks of its river where it is now known as Las Peñas neighborhood which expanded to become Ecuador’s most populated city with more than 2,5 million inhabitants.

Since it was born, between Daule and Babahoyo Rivers, at the level of La Puntilla until its mouth in the Pacific Ocean, the province of Guayas has witnessed changes and the development of this city.

Its banks show the different sides of Guayaquil which today celebrates its anniversary. Therefore, Andes Agency walked through its banks to rediscover its spots, a mix of tradition and modernity.

On Thursday morning, on a sunny day, this tour starts in the south, at the beginning of El Oro street where a big pedestrian bridge is located, it allow connecting Guayaquil with Santay Island.

Pedestrian bridge that connects Guayaquil with Santay Island.

This bridge also allows you to see the city and its immense waters of a pearly color due to the reflection of the blue sky and intense sun.

To the south we can see am image dominated by industrial Guayaquil since some companies are located along its banks including Shell Gas plant which exploited in 1976, affecting nearby neighborhoods.

We can also see Caraguay and Camal Municipal, main markets where a variety of seafood and meat can be found. Both places are located in Cuba neighborhood where many people work in food trade.

On the same direction but a farther Guasmo neighborhood is located, formerly a farm, which turned into a great settlement in the late 70s.

Naval shipyard, located in the south of the city.

Then, we take a look to the northern area where we can see a mix of the old and modern city. After gazing at it for some minutes and enjoying from the pure air, he head north. Our first stop is the Ecuadorian Naval Shipyard where ships for the army and other institutions are built since decades ago.

These institutions are located along the Ecuadorian Naval Base where its headquarters work. On the eve of festivities, tens of marines rehearse in Plaza del Marinero for the parade in honor of the city.

Calderón gunboat exhibited as museum in Plaza del Marinero.

Our tour continues to the traditional Astillero neighborhood named after old artisan piers that existed in the colonial era and turned Guayaquil into South America’s main destination for the construction of wooden ships.

Nowadays, shipyards have almost disappeared. There are only two formal businesses where Guerrero and Huayamabe families continue with the tradition.

Artisan shipyard located in Bolivia Street in the Astillero neighborhood.

Luis García, 75, is sitting in the hallway of an old house on cinco de junio street. The man, who never wanted to move to another place, misses the times when there was a lot of movement in this sector when workers and dockers awaited the arrival of boats to ship and unload merchandise and raw material for industries.

Facilities of the former thermos electrical plant of the Ecuadorian Electricity Company.

Nowadays, there are only huge springs left of the thermo-electrical plant where black fumes were released. Astillero neighborhood was also the place where two of the most popular soccer teams were born, Barcelona (1925) and Emelec (1929) with 27 national championships together.

People in Guayaquil always remember the Clasicos del Astillero, played in the old George Capwell stadium, owned by Emelec, located few blocks from neighborhood.

It’s noon and the intense sun obliges us to walk along the fresh hallways of the old and modern houses in Eloy Alfaro Street, one of the main streets that connect the south and northern areas of the city. Old religious schools like La Inmaculada (1900) and La Providencia (1872), and the traditional candy factory of La Universal (1889) are seen here.

Espronceda Castle is an architectonic jewel.

The renewed Simon Bolivar pier is located at the end of the Cuenca Street, it is one of the most emblematic tourist spaces of the city.

One of the city’s artisan markets is located in the southern area of the pier where products are made with yarn, leather, wood, ceramics and other materials.

Artisan market in Simon Bolivar pier.

Few meters from the market is San Jose church and Union exclusive Club, founded in 1869, which has hosted different social events of rich families in Guayaquil.

Then he head to Olmedo street and movement becomes intense there, sometimes even chaotic. It is the sector known as Bahia, an urban space where streets, paths and pedestrian roads became a mall filled with hundreds of small stores where visitors can find any type of merchandise at affordable prices.

It is common to walk here where you can also find tropical fruit juices and typical food.

Bahia mall.

Heading north to Diez de Agosto Street, the beauty of the City Council’s palaces can be appreciated; the governor’s office is also located few meters ahead.

This is the area of the city where important commercial and financial chains work in huge buildings. Shady trees and the river offer a natural view. Morisca tower, built in 1934, offers a classic touch with its Arabic architecture.

Morisca tower is an important attraction of the port city.

We now walk to 9 de Octubre Avenue, the main artery of the city, where the monument in honor of Simon Bolivar and San Martin is located.

This emblematic monument attracts thousands of tourists who stop here to take a picture with Guayas River and Santay Island on the back. 

Semicircular theatre of La Rotonda, one of the most emblematic monuments of the city.

Big buildings offer shade making it pleasant to walk along the pier with attractions such as children’s games, artificial lakes, beautiful gardens, restaurants, malls.

In the northern area of the pier, in Luzurraga Street, we can still see heritage buildings that were owned by wealthy cocoa exporters and where they prepared the fruit for exports.

In the past, the smell of cocoa and the river scented the air in the area where movement was intense.

The town council promotes a giant ferris Wheel as new attraction.

Now the place is one of the most pleasant of the port city. A cinema, a modern arts center and a large esplanade for events gather the cultural activity of the area. A giant ferris wheel promoted by the Mayor as another attraction for the city was just installed.

Our walk ends in Las Peñas neighborhood with its colonial architecture, its stone-paved streets, gardens, the river and its location that attract tourists.

This neighborhood, subject to reconstruction for more than a decade, is one of the iconic attractions of the city. 


Las Peñas neighborhood where Guayaquil was born 481 years ago.

It is the same place known as El Fortin de la Planchada where some voluminous iron canyons are still preserved. Its mission was to defend the city from the attack of pirates in the colonial era.

Finally, in the northern extreme, we get to Santa Ana port where luxurious buildings are located as well a hotel owned by one of the most entrepreneurial consortiums of the country.

This place, where old colonial quays and the facilities of the first national beer company were located, is the new image of Guayaquil of the twenty-first century.

Santa Ana port where a modern real estate project is being developed.