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Guayaquil’s saint and birthday, how many years has the city really been founded?

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By Rodolfo Pérez Pimentel

On August 15, 1534, the city of Santiago, now Guayaquil, was founded. July 25, the day of its patron saint, the apostle Santiago, is its saint and August 15, his birthday, which is why the city is 488 years old and not 487.

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Guayaquil is the oldest city in Ecuador. Its council has been in existence for 488 years, not 487 as the Municipality mistakenly says. July 25 is the day of the patron saint Santiago el Mayor and August 15, the day of its foundation, which is not an obstacle to continuing to celebrate the Julian festivities as it happened since colonial times.


  • In 1929 a commission of historians was formed to define the date of foundation of Guayaquil. These gentlemen believed that the city was founded by Francisco de Orellana on July 25, 1537, which was officially repeated for some time. And the years passed.
  • The theory of Ing. Miguel Aspiazu Carbo. In 1955, Aspiazu published The foundations of Santiago de Guayaquil maintaining that the history of this city begins with the founding of the city of Santiago de Quito on August 15, 1534 in the Liribamba plain.

The critics received this theory with skepticism because people did not conceive that Guayaquil had been founded in the Sierra, there was no documentation on the matter and because Aspiazu’s argument was rather intuitive. From then on, an impassioned discussion was opened – transformed at times into controversy – from all of which the following has been obtained, in conclusion:

  • Who could found a city? It was exclusive faculty only of the king, who could delegate it to the captains of conquest. Carlos V granted this right to Francisco Pizarro, through the Contracts of Toledo in 1539.
  • What is founding? It is not building streets, avenues, curbs and sidewalks as some white souls naively imagine. Founding, according to Indian Law, is the creation of a legal entity called town hall, justice and regiment (current municipalities), that is why it was the town hall that moved to a new site.
  • The foundation act of the city of Santiago, today Santiago de Guayaquil It has always been found (1534) in the first book of the Cabildos de la Villa de San Francisco de Quito –called Green Book, due to the color of the taffeta with which it was protected in the 19th century– without anyone having thought of it doubt its legitimacy since it constitutes the oldest written document of Ecuador.
  • Cities, like people, have a birthday and a saint. The founding act of the city of Santiago de Quito, today Santiago de Guayaquil, dates from August 15, 1534. The city of Santiago was founded by Diego de Almagro, who located it on the Liribamba plain, where it is today raises the town of Sicalpa. It was called that way, Santiago de Quito, because it was within the vast territory of the so-called kingdom of Quito, then unknown lands for the Spaniards; but when his town hall moved to the coast months later, by the hand of Sebastián de Benalcázar, it was located in the lands of the chief Guayaquile, approximately at kilometer 38 of the Durán-Tambo highway and at the height of Boliche, that is why he changed the toponymic Quito through Guayaquil and was renamed Santiago de Guayaquil, being the same city and the same council. The only thing that changed was the name. This transfer carried out by Benalcázar did not survive because the Chono Indians razed it and the Spanish neighbors had to flee to the mountains. Later they would move it to other places and thus the Santiago del rio Amay, the Santiago de la Culata, the Santiago de la Nueva Castilla, etc. arose.
  • Where does July 25 appear? The minutes of the Guayaquil council, from the oldest preserved in the Municipal Archives -those of 1634- repeat that on July 24 the councilors meet to agree on the festivities of the following day that the Church celebrates in the Roman calendar to the apostle Santiago el Mayor, patron saint of Spain and our city, with the Paseo del Estandarte Real, flanked by the main authorities and the most important residents, who walk the streets of the city accompanied by bands and military formations. The balconies were adorned with colorful shawls and the neighbors in general participated in the entire party, in the tedeum and sermon in the main church, in the collation or lunch at the house of the very royal ensign, in the popular games (mad cows, bullfights, of bulls, cucañas or greased sticks) and food sales, not to mention. A whole program of celebrations.
  • Francisco de Orellana was not in these regions in July 1537. From the documentation found by Dr. Dora León de Szawsdy in the Archive of the Indies in Seville, it has been proven that Orellana was not in these regions in July 1537, nor could Guayaquil be founded that day or that month, as was wrongly reported. holding, but José Antonio Gómez already said, we must continue celebrating the Julian festivities on July 25, because this is a custom that comes from the time of our most distant grandparents. Another thing is his birthday, on August 15, which, of course, also deserves his revelry.
  • My project. As a chronicler for life in Guayaquil, I have twice presented a Draft Agreement to put an end to such a hackneyed issue of the foundation, first I did it during the Mayor’s Office of Bolívar Cali (between 1982 and 1984) and later in the last administration of Jaime Nebot , achieving the formation of a commission made up of three people, who approved the opinion presented by Mr. Alejandro Guerra Cáceres, which mysteriously was never published and was adopted –as could not be otherwise– on August 15, 1534, as the foundation date, but the authority argued that the Julian festivals could not continue to be celebrated in August. For this reason, this year we speak of 487 years and not 488 as we should.

For something Julio Estrada affirmed, at the time, that like the ladies, Guayaquil likes to lower the age.

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Source: Eluniverso

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