History: the Central Bank of Ecuador built it in 1997 on the banks of the Guayas River as a theme park of 8 hectares with educational, cultural, environmental, recreational and tourist purposes. It is aimed to exhibit the history and culture of the old province of Guayaquil that emerged at the end of the colonial times and the beginning of the republican life of the country between the XIX and XX centuries, which occupied almost all of the Ecuadorian coast including the existing provinces of Los Rios, El Oro and part of Manabi.
The site also recreates the architecture, traditions and the urban and rural life of the Guayaquil of those times, mixed with a beautiful natural park full of a diverse vegetation that form different natural and wildlife areas with their respective flora and fauna.
Its history dates back to the beginnings of 1980 when the director of the Anthropologic Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador, Olaf Holm, was notified of the demolition of four buildings of great historic value, so he suggested that instead of demolishing them, a tourist-cultural project be developed to reflect the architecture of the city. Therefore, the buildings were dismantled and storage in the bank until the construction of the project.
The Special Projects Unit of the Central Bank that inaugurated the work on June 15, 1997 carried out the project. It was developed by stages, including the different areas of the park. On October of 1999, the Wildlife area was opened; on November 2000, the Traditions area; on November 2002, the Urban Architectonic area and the Pier 1900; on July 2005, the Julian Coronel House; on June 2006, the chapel of the Corazon de Jesus Hospice; on October 2000, the Territorial Bank and the Lavayen Paredes House.
The Public Company of Natural Parks and Public Spaces took over the administration on June 14, 2012, maintaining the same initial purposes.
Attractions: the visitors can get a taste of the geopolitical context of the old days; since the park recreates different habitats in which the people of the old province of Guayaquil used to develop their activities, such as the woods, the countryside and the city, which is closely related to the so called “Golden Age” of the main port of Ecuador, whose principal activity was the commercialization of cocoa.
The visitor can appreciate the history of Guayaquil in three defined areas:
1) Wildlife Area: it comprises approximately four hectares and recreates the natural habitat of more than 50 species between birds, mammals and other animals that turned the woods into their natural habitat, some of which are in danger of extinction.
Among the animals there are: birds such as parrots, a harpy eagle (endangered specie), Toucan of the coast, and the Maria and Masked ducks; mammals like sloths, ocelots, deer, spider monkeys, tapirs and collared sainos; reptiles such as the crocodile from the coast and spectacled caimans.
The wildlife area is toured through an elevated trail that allows real contact with the ecosystem, without causing discomfort to the visitors or the animals. During the walk, 23 themed stops are made, in order to admire each species individually.
Regarding the flora, the mangrove can be appreciated in all its varieties, which constitutes the predominant plant specie of the Ecuadorian coast that is characterized for being a region of great ecological wealth.
The area has a viewpoint of 11 meters in height where the visitor can enjoy a formidable view of the woods and the sounds of this paradise of life.
2) Urban Architectonic Area: the space recreates the wealthy times of Guayaquil of the first decades of the XX century, when the city enjoyed an economic boom thanks to the growth and exportation of cocoa, which brought prosperity to the city and the surrounding farms.
To entertain the visitor, live theatrical performances take place on weekends that represent the daily life of Guayaquil, presenting actors dressed in French style clothes, which were very fashionable at the time, and also ambulant vendors of sweets and tobacco. The electric train is also recreated, which is pulled by mules.
Regarding the architecture of Guayaquil, there is an exhibition of several buildings of the city that was rebuilt and modernized at the beginnings of the XX century after being assailed by the great fire of 1896, which almost destroyed it. Among the houses that are shown, there is the House of Julian Coronel, built between 1899 and 1900, whose first floor was used for commercial shops and the second for residential purposes; the Territorial Bank built in 1886 and made of wood and zinc, which stood out for its spacious and beautiful hall. The Bank was operational until 1980.
Other houses exhibited are: the Lavayen Paredes House, known as “La Casa Verde” (the green house), which belonged to a family owner of cocoa and coffee plantations and was used as their residency; currently the house offers workshops for traditional crafts and has an exhibition area that shows the history of the building including its rescue and restoration. The Corazon de Jesus Hospice, whose construction started on June 24, 1889 and was inaugurated on June 25, 1892, as a place for social assistance; made of wood and masonry (in the lower part), the hospice worked until 1982 and the building is admired by the tourists for its proportions and beauty.
These houses were rescued as Cultural Heritage for the tourist to learn about the urban life of the Guayaquil of old times. The place has also museums, restaurants, coffee shops, bank agencies, workshops, audiovisual rooms and exhibitions.
One of the attractions is the Urban Car that was the main form of transportation during the old days, therefore, 715 linear meters of rail tracks has been installed. The car is a replica of the one used in 1866 that was formed by trams pulled by mules or horses.
The River Station is the link between the Wildlife and the Urban Architectonic areas, constituting the entrance door to the park from the river, which offers a dreamy landscape. The building made of moral and chanul wood, is a historic architectonic reference for its four-side roofs and central towers, very traditional of that era.
The Pier 1900 is one of the main attractions of the area, which takes the tourist back in time. The place is cobblestoned with 270 original pieces that were reused in the street; the ambience is completed with lanterns and the coverings of the buildings made of tiles and zinc with ribbed eaves.
3) Traditional Area: the space of two hectares is a place of reminiscence in which the visitor can learn about the history of urban Guayaquil, besides the observation of the rural life of our countryside.
The tourists will be immersed in the era known as “Pepa de Oro” because of the cocoa boom, and will be guided through a cocoa farm in which they will be able to see all the production process of chocolate.
The Rural area exhibits the productive life of the agricultural people of the coast, showing the orchards of the main products of the region and the country architecture reflected in the farmhouse “San Juan” (landlord residence) and the country houses (farmworker residence), both integrated into the plantation environment and the poultry; a lifestyle that has been fundamental for the development of the country.
Inside the Traditional Area there are ethno-botanical orchards that have a large variety of plants such as aromatic, medicinal and industrial; fruits, vegetables and spices. The growth of these plants is carried out in a specialized plant nursery in order to foster the knowledge of the medicinal properties of the native plants of the old province of Guayaquil.
To learn about the principles of agro-ecological management, the ethno-botanical orchards have areas to show the different recycling processes of organic waste: composting area, allopathic principles of the plants, association and rotation of crops, as well as the quail cycle.
Phone numbers: +593 (04) 283-2958, +593 (04) 283-5356.