Enjoy the Vibrant Atmosphere of Santa Ana Hill
The thriving port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador started off in 1547 as a small settlement on a hill overlooking the ocean and the Guayas River. Referred to as the Little Green Hill at the time, this area is now the neighborhood of Las Peñas, and the hill is known as Santa Ana Hill. This vibrant community has become a popular tourist attraction offering spectacular views of the Gulf of Guayaquil and the bustling modern city below. Santa Ana Hill features paved walkways with colorfully painted houses and a number of cafés, restaurants, art galleries and quaint little shops selling traditional and contemporary handicrafts.
Looking at the horizon from the Guayas River, which flows from the Andes and Chimborazo Volcano and empties into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Guayaquil, Santa Ana Hill and the neighboring El Carmen Hill stand out prominently and are routinely used as a point of reference for direction by locals. Its height above the surrounding areas made Santa Ana Hill a logical choice for early pioneers to settle. In addition to providing a measure of security by allowing settlers to view the surrounding area, Santa Ana Hill provided solid ground on which to build, in comparison with the rather marshy plains below.
Back in the 16th century one of the biggest fears of coastal settlements was possible invasion by pirates, and so fortifications were built overlooking the area where the river flows into the sea. It was also in these early days that the first town hall and church were built. As time progressed and the settlement grew, houses started to be built down the hillside, and while some of the dwellings may appear to be clinging to the hillside, they have stood the test of time and remain stable.
Today, visitors to Santa Ana Hill will be able to see the ancient forts, complete with cannons, that once protected the settlement. Starting at the Diego Noboa staircase, visitors can follow the pathways, climb some of the 456 steps, meander through the neighborhood, enjoy refreshments at the cafés and restaurants, shop at the galleries and craft shops, or just relax in the small plazas and enjoy the hospitable atmosphere of Santa Ana Hill.