A walk along the newly-renovated, multimillion-dollar Malecon
by the wide Rio Guayas reveals the essence of the town’s maritime history and its continental power at the beginning of the new century. The new Malecon is a symphony to polished stone and steel and glass, dotted with elegant trees, fountains, benches, fast-food chains and security guards. It’s by far the most pleasant part of the city, and probably its safest, although you can’t help wondering if the millions wouldn’t have been better-spent on social programs.
Where the Malecon crosses the end of the main thoroughfare, Avenida 9 de Octubre, La Rotunda
statue commemorates the famous, but secret, meeting between Bolivar and San Martin in 1822. Following the encounter, Ecuador became part of Bolivar’s long-fought after super-nation of Gran Colombia. The men are considerably out of proportion, if you ask me. Bolivar was only 1.65m [5’6’’
] but here looks like he plays in the NBA! Close to La Rotonda, two strikingly modern lookout towers rise above the river. There are great views from these across to the source of much Guayaquileno pride, the Puente [bridge
] de la Unidad Nacional. Further on, you come to one of the city’s most famous sights: the cream-hued, Moorish clock tower
, adorned with Islamic designs, and looking somewhat incongruous. Across the street from here, head down the beautiful glass-and-metal vaulted arcade of the ornate Palacio Municipal
, with its Grecian statues looking down at passerby from on high.
For more history, Guayaquil has several good museums. In contrast to other more predictable exhibits pertaining the city’s history at the Museo Municipal
, near Parque Seminario, you might be able to see the collection of tsantsas
shrunkenheads, although they aren’t always on display. The small Museo del Banco del Pacifico
[9 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday, 11 am to 1 pm Saturday
], a block up from La Rotunda on Paula de Icaza, has an excellent, well-presented and informative archaeological collection. Near the vast Parque Centenario, the Casa de Cultura
has a fine collection of gold items in its Sala de Oro, and some intriguing artifacts from the La Tolita
culture. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm with a break at 1 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am to 1:30 pm Saturday. The Museo Arqueologico del Banco Central
, where Jose de Antepara crosses with Avenida 9 de Octubre, showcases probably the best-presented collection in the city, with a wonderful display of gold masks and jewelry, as well as notable anthropological and archaeological displays from the Valdivian culture
. The museum is due to move to the Malecon.
To experience the tangy side of Guayaquil’s street life, go to La Bahia black market
on both sides of Avenida Olmedo towards the river where you can buy goods that have somehow fallen off boats at rock-bottom prices. You can save a fortune here on things like clothing, shoes, electrical goods, cameras, food and drink. Be warned: the market is rife with pickpockets and snatch thieves, mostly working in pairs, who might have the watch off your wrist as quickly as flick of a snake’s tongue.
located on Avenida 10 de Agosto and Chile. The park also known as Parque Bolivar is surrounded with friendly iguanas measuring around 4 to 5 feet that you can view on the ground or in the trees as they look down surveying the land for hand outs of food or leftovers from the park visitor. The iguanas found here are not the same prehistoric looking variety of Galapagos and are in complete contrast to the surrounding newer first class hotels but the locals and tourists have all grown to be very fond of these unassuming iguanas. There is also a small pond of multicolored Tilapias as well as a statue of Simon Bolivar in the center of the park.
The City Cemetery
. To the North lies the colossal white decorated Cemetery comprising of monuments, high rise tombs and mausoleums of the gaudy rich [always take a Taxi to get there
]. Opposite the Cemetery under a bridge is a large area of flower stalls and again for security we recommend you restrict visits to Sundays while there are more people around.
A land mark above the market and cemetery is the Cerro El Carmen, the Angel of protection that guards over the City from its regal high point
||Article contributed by Dominic Hamilton|||