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Earth and Water. This duality defines one of the most populated cities of Ecuador, which became the port center of the country since the 16th century thanks to the Guayas River, with 70% of exports and 83% of imports.
The scenario is dominated by the river that goes across the city: the Guayas; the estuary of el Salado, that connects the city with the Pacific, and the mountains of the Chongón-Colonche mountain range. There, the city distributes its heart between the neighborhood of Las Peñas (the oldest in the city, founded in the 16th century)—in the hill of Santa Ana and its 444 steps leading to the lighthouse—and the Malecón 2000.
It is also the most visited city in Ecuador (2,111,260 tourists per year). In the most recent edition of the World Travel Awards (considered the Oscars of tourism), it won eight prizes. Among them, Best Destination for Business Trips and Leading Destination for Events and Festivals.
The estuary is a stretch of sea that unites Guayaquil with the Pacific Ocean: its waters burst into the city's geography and, along with the Guayas River, it has played an important role in the port history of Guayaquil. The banks of the pier are part of a plan to recover natural spaces through urban planning. Here's a tour to enjoy its charm.
"There were five of us like a fist..." That's how the Grupo de Guayaquil defined itself: a literary collective made up of writers Enrique Gil Gilbert, José de La Cuadra, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco and Joaquín Gallegos Lara. At the walk there is a bronze statue in honor of the group: a closed fist that emerges from a book with the carved faces of the authors.
This bridge was inaugurated in 1998 and has 98 multicolored optical fiber lines that are reflected in the estuary water. The bridge is located in the place where the Guayaquil troops, commanded by General Juan José Flores, liberated the city from the Peruvian invasion in the 1858-1860 war.
64 jets throw 20-meter tall water threads to form a liquid wall in which figures are projected. The fountain was inaugurated on October 30, 2011: the visual spectacle is accompanied by classical music, as well as songs that speak of the city, like Guayaquil de mis amores and Guayaquileño, madera de guerrero.
Some historians attribute the origin of the city's name to this legend. The story narrates the capture of the cacique Guayas and his wife Quil by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar in 1535. The stained glass represents the meeting of Europeans and indigenous people.
Carlos Rubira Infante was one of the most prolific musicians in Guayaquil. He composed around 400 songs and in 2018 he entered the Hall of Fame of Latin American composers. One of his most memorable pieces is, precisely, the one that gives a name to this monument: Pórtico de oro. In the commemorative plaque, the stanzas of the song are carved.
When the church of Santo Domingo was erected in 1548, the city was barely 13 years old. From there, at least 20 other temples (declared of tourist interest) have turned Guayaquil into a center of devotion and architectural heritage.
When pirates attacked Guayaquil, locals sought refuge in this temple, the oldest in the city. Its facade was completely remodeled in 1938, as a series of fires weakened its foundations. Today, inside the church there's a sculpture of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii (made in 1550 in Seville, Spain) and a crucifix attributed to Manuel Chili Caspicara, one of the most important carvers of the Spanish crown in the 18th century.
The basilica was built under the direction of Italian architect Paolo Russo between 1934 and 1936. The style of the church is of Neo-Gothic inspiration and in its left nave there is a 1790 painting depicting the Virgin Mary accompanied by a young girl who, after some research, turned out to be Rosa Icaza y Silva, wife of the Ecuadorian poet and hero José Joaquín de Olmedo.
Also known as San Pedro Cathedral, this structure was originally built in wood in 1547 and had several renovations for four centuries. In 1924 it was decided that the original cathedral was to be demolished in order to build a new one in a Neo-Gothic style. Here, the bells announced the independence of the city on October 9, 1820, a landmark known as the Aurora Gloriosa.
In the neighborhood in which this temple was built, and which bares the same name, the Cristo del Consuelo procession, with half a million people every Holy Friday, is held annually. The church was built in 1961.
The municipality of Guayaquil has opted for urban renewal through art, both indoors and outdoors. For this reason, 58 artistic pieces between murals, stained glass and sculptures have been installed in the last years. Here are some of the most outstanding.
This work rests at the José Joaquín de Olmedo airport and represents two milestones of Guayaquil aviation: the first balloon ride of the city in 1873 and the flight of the first plane on October 8, 1913.
For 30 years, this work by the Ecuadorian artist Manuel Rendón was lost. Made in Mexico, it was sent to Ecuador to be installed in Banco Central, but its pieces were never unpacked. It was rediscovered by mistake in 1994 by artists Jorge and Carlos Swett. The mural (20.40 meters long) was installed in 2011 at the Simón Bolívar Cultural Center.
This work is a tribute to one of the most respected artists in Ecuador, a pioneer of constructivist art in the country. The mural, located on one side of the House of Culture, is 16 meters high by 8 meters wide and was made by Carlos Swett Salas.
This mural (by the Ecuadorian artist Francisco Rafael Velásquez Zambrano) is 28.25 meters long and 3.07 meters high. It is a tribute to some of the most important athletes in the city, including the tennis player Nicolás Lapentti.
An artistic project composed of two phases: the first, an urban art festival that intervened places in the city through graffiti, such as S street and the staircases of the Las Peñas neighborhood. The second phase is a commercial and artistic complex that opened its doors in November 2018, with 52 stores and two containers that function as exhibition halls.
Taking the port of Guayaquil as a starting point, from south to north there is a tour of some of the most striking beaches in Ecuador. It is known as Ruta del Sol: a road surrounded by fishing villages that borders the Pacific coast and brings together some of the best places to enjoy the sea in the country.
A bay of celestial water, decorated with yachts, sailboats and a long boardwalk. It is located at the end of the Santa Elena peninsula, and is one of the most visited holiday destinations.
It has excellent hotel and restaurant services and there's activity both during day and during the night (so It’s not the best choice if you want to escape from the bustle). Around six in the afternoon, visitors gather at the beaches of the Bravo Sea and Punta Carnero to watch the sun go down and listen to live music bands.
A quintessential surfer town located 45 minutes from Salinas, very close to the edge of the province of Manabí. It is a place bathed in sunshine, animated by reggae and uncomplicated life, with waves worthy of admiration.
Tourists are mainly Europeans who stay for months dedicated to surfing (many have already visited Máncora, in Peru, or are planning to do so).
This is the setting of the International Surfing Championship, which is held annually every February, and around Montañita there are beaches for rappelling, diving, horseback riding and mountain biking.
This beach in the Manabí district is surrounded by very colorful inns. From June to September, yachts set sail to watch dozens of Jubarta whales that come from the Antarctic in search of warmer waters. It is common to see them jump or float along with their newborn offspring. Sometimes you can even swim with them.
Close to Puerto Lopez is the extensive Machalilla National Park: a reserve of 25,000 hectares protected from forests, beaches and the ocean. There, visitors will find the island of La Plata, with flora and fauna very similar to that of the Galapagos Islands, the islet of Salango and the virgin beach of Los Frailes, among others.
This virgin beach, 7 kilometers long, is surrounded by forests and marine wetlands. For many years, it was the best kept secret of the province of Esmeraldas. It is located two hours from the capital of the province, and the ocean that bathes it has the longest waves in the Ecuadorian Pacific, which are ideal for surfing.
Nearby you will find beaches like Portete, Same, Súa and Atacames, which are often visited, as well as the Galera San Francisco marine reserve, which houses a variety of marine species similar to that of the Galápagos archipelago.
Specialty: Fusion Ecuadorian food.
In what used to be the home of Julián Coronel Oyarbide, a famous doctor from Guayaquil during the first decades of the 20th century, today there is a restaurant with a view of the river that pays tribute to this man: Casa Julián.
95% of the ingredients (such as cocoa, honey, peanuts, duck meat and seafood) used in the preparations are Ecuadorian and come from places as diverse as Guayas, Manabí, Santa Elena, Machala and Galápagos. The menu has 35 preparations, among which are the shrimp ceviche jipijapa (shrimps prepared with peanut paste), prawns with morocho corn sausage (a stew made from corn) and the pork ribs, which are roasted for six hours and accompanied with mashed potatoes.
Specialty: Fusion cuisine.
Tapas are small plates, the size of an appetizer and not larger than 150 grams. They first appeared during the Spanish Middle Ages, when wine was covered with bread or ham to avoid dust or flies. It was there, in Spain, that José Morán found inspiration for his restaurant.
"Ecuadorian food," he says, "has excessive and baroque proportions. Tapas gave me the solution to make it attractive to visitors."
In the kitchen, he uses crabs, naranjillas or Ecuadorian clams. "Five years ago, half of our tapas had national flavors. Today, they are 100%." Among its dishes there are ribs with canguil puree, papaya ceviche, amazonian chocolate ice cream and Cayambe pine mushroom tartare.
Specialty: Sea food.
At the end of 2013, Angélica Cujilán served the famous American chef Anthony Bourdain her famous encebollado: a guayaquileño broth with chunks of albacore, chopped yucca, celery, basil, parsley, mint, peppers, chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, ginger, oregano, pepper and onion paste. The chef was fascinated.
"I did not know who he was, but after his visit and making me a part of his No Reservations program, people started to take me seriously in Guayaquil," says Angelica, who started 35 years ago with El pez volador as a street business.
In addition to the encebollado, breaded shrimp, humitas (tortillas made from corn) and pickled fish are served.
Tuna, cassava, onion, tomato and cilantro soup.
Lentil dish cooked with onion, pepper, tomato, garlic, cumin and cilantro (stew), served with rice, roasted beef, avocado and fried ripe.
This chef teaches experimental cooking classes at the University of the Americas in Quito. He worked as head chef at the Sheraton Hotel in Guayaquil for 13 years. He trained in Peru and the United States, but he is in love with local ingredients, especially products from the provinces of Los Ríos and Cantón Vinces, recognized for their cocoa and green plantain. Its goal is to strengthen Guayaquil as a gastronomic destination, respecting the traditional technique but motivating creativity in the dishes. The cooking bar in his creative restaurant measures 100 meters, but there are only 16 seats for diners.
Plato típico de la Sierra ecuatoriana. A diferencia de otros países como Argentina, Bolivia, Chile y Perú, se hace con maíz tierno y puede ser de sal o de dulce. Es agradable acompañarlo con un café.
20 de enero.
23 de enero.
Centro de Convenciones de Guayaquil.
V Congreso Internacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación para la Sociedad
Del 6 al 8 de febrero.
Aula Magna de la Universidad Politécnica Salesiana.
Concierto Erlend Oye y La Comitiva
9 de marzo.
International Tattoo Fest Guayaquil
Del 7 al 9 de julio.
Festival Internacional de Cine de Guayaquil
Del 14 al 21 de septiembre.
José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, 7 kilometers from the city center.
US Dollar (USD).
27 °C (80.6 °F)
Buses (Metrovía): varies depending on the highway. Check it upon your arrival in Guayaquil. Price: 0.30 USD per ticket. Taxis: minimum rate: 1.10 USD.
3-star hotel: 43 USD per person, per night. 5-star hotel: 170 USD per person, per night.