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Santiago de Guayaquil, more commonly known as just Guayaquil, is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. Situated on the western shores of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is a popular destination for its storied neighborhoods, pulsing waterfront scene, and urban-renewal projects that breathe a new and artistic life into the city. From the picturesque barrio of Las Peñas to the massive Guayaquil Historical Park, Guayaqul is filled with amazing things to discover and experience. Explore the thriving nature of Ecuador outside the city in the Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve, or just soak in the sun and the vistas from the buzzing Malecón 2000 boardwalk.
Originally built up in the 16th century, Guayaquil has served as Ecuador's commercial heart for centuries. Thanks to recent urban regeneration efforts, the modern city is a stunning place that combines history and beauty from the peak of Santa Ana hill to its bustling shores.
Malecón 2000 - Malecón 2000 is a modern boardwalk overlooking the Guayas River. An update to the original Simón Bolívar boardwalk, Malecón 2000 stretches for 1.5 miles (2.5 km) on the river's west shore and features several historic monuments, gardens, and recreational areas. See the Moorish Tower, or Public Clock, the Carlos Alberto Arroyo del Rio monument, and the La Rotonda monument, and walk through the Malecón Gardens. The north section of the promenade is home to the Museo Antropológico (Museum of Anthropology).
Las Peñas - The first neighborhood of Guayaquil, Las Peñas is over 400 years old. Located at the base of Santa Ana Hill, the area is characterized by narrow, cobbled streets that are lined with colorful and romantic architecture. Las Peñas serves as the artistic center of the city, with many of its historic buildings having been converted into art galleries.
Guayaquil Historical Park - Learn about the history, culture, and natural heritage of Guayaquil in the Parque Histórico, or Guayaquil Historical Park. The 20-acre (8-ha) park, built on the banks of the Guayas River, is divided into 3 parts: the Wildlife Zone, where you can encounter endemic and exotic flora and fauna, the Urban Architectural Zone that recreates flourishing Guayaquil of the early 20th century, and the Traditions Zone, which showcases rural life highlights the "Pepa de Oro" cocoa boom of the region.
Guayaquil has no shortage of beautiful sights to see, from the monuments that line the waterfront Malecón 2000 to the splendid parks throughout the city. The city's largest park is Centenario Park, which features the Column of the Founding Fathers that commemorates Guayaquil's independence at the end of the 19th century. Visit Seminario Park, also called Iguana Park for the outstanding number of iguanas that inhabit the area. Explore the development and history of the city at the Municipal Museum of Guayaquil, which features archaeological pieces and artifacts from early inhabitants of the region.
Guayaquil's location on the Guayas River and its long, nuanced history make it a city worth taking the time to explore. Wander through historic Santa Ana Hill, around which Guayaquil was born in the 16th century, and climb the 444 steps of the Diego Noboa Staircases to catch a view over the rest of the vibrant city. Get to know the artistic side of Guayaquil by visiting the galleries of the quaint Las Peñas neighborhood, or stop by Mercado Artesanal, a heritage market where you can find handmade crafts and unique jewelry. The city is filled with vibrant and detailed murals—just wandering the streets will take you past impeccably crafted works of art, such as the Mural Gardens overpass that displays Guayaquil flora and fauna, or the Estampas de Guayaquil Antiguo mural, which depicts scenes of the city in the past. Outside of Guayaquil, get to know the natural heritage of southern Ecuador by visiting the Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve. A mix of mangroves and dry tropical forests, the 123,553-acre (50,000-ha) reserve is home to a spectacular range of flora and wildlife that can be witnessed by paddling through the waterways aboard a canoe. The Cerro Blanco Protected Forest, just outside Guayaquil by the Chongon-Colonche mountain range, offers more opportunities to get in touch with the nature of the region.