Torre Morisca, landmark and symbol of Guayaquil.
Torre Morisca, landmark and symbol of Guayaquil.

The Torre Morisca is the machine that Vicente Rocafuerte had in mind to import from England for the reconstruction of his beloved city..

Words & Photos: Trail Forth Journal.

When Vicente Rocafuerte was governor of the province of Guayaquil and had finished his term as president, he decided to import the machine from England and place it in the tower of the Casa del Cabildo to rebuild his beloved city.

The history of Torre Morisca.

The clock finally arrived in 1842 and was installed in the tower of the Casa Consistorial. It replaced the previous clock in the tower – an old colonial Jesuit clock. It was the first truly public clock in Guayaquil. Before the Jesuit clock, there was a clock installed by the Dominicans, and that was the first clock the city had, but it was located in the cloister of their convent, and it only repeated certain hours in its bells, and its functioning depended on two things: it only worked during the day and on sunny days, because it was a sundial.

Torre Morisca or Public Clock captured from our drone.

Casa de las Temporalidades tower.

The clock, brought from Belgium by the Jesuits in 1732, was installed in the tower of the Casa de las Temporalidades, located at that time on Compañia (Clemente Ballén) and Carcel (Chimborazo) streets. It did not tell the time, only the hours. Under the tower lived a bell-ringer who had to ring a bell every hour until the clock was closed. The new clock that came to the city remained there throughout the 19th century, but in the 20th century the City Hall began to fall into disrepair and the tower that housed the clock had to be dismantled and moved to the riverside market in front of the City Hall.

The first tower on 10 de Agosto Street.

The tower remained in this location until 1920, when on 6 June 1921 the City Council decided to commission Nicolas Virgilio Bardelin to build a wooden tower covered with cement to house the clock brought by Vicente Rocafuerte. In 1921, the City Council decided to give the public clock its own place on the Malecon, at the beginning of Av. 10 de Agosto. But this did not last long. Five years later, it was no longer able to support its own weight and was demolished due to defects in its construction that were discovered over time. In 1927 it was decided to demolish the building and the English clock was stored.

Torre Morisca, 1930

Torre Morisca, 1939

The current building, known since then as the Torre Morisca (Moorish Tower), was built in 1930 by the engineer Francisco Ramon and the architect J. Perez Nin y Landin, and inaugurated on 24 May 1931. The last time this clock was modified was in 1992, when it and the building in which it is housed underwent a thorough restoration. Over time, this clock has become one of the city’s most emblematic landmarks. The City Clock or Torre Morisca is considered to be the “companion of the city of Guayaquil” for the last 150 years.

The tower was later rebuilt by the architect Juan Orús and the decorations are by the artist Emilio Soro. It is a work of reinforced concrete that rises four storeys above an octagonal base of about 28 square metres and ends in an Arabic dome of Byzantine architecture that reaches a height of 23 metres. With regard to the style of this building, which is unique in the city, it should be noted that it was built at the same time as buildings by Italian architects at the beginning of the 20th century.

In June 2013 the clock, originally from London, was restored and the bronze bell now chimes regularly on the hour. You can discover this place and more on the following self-guided tour of Guayaquil’s city centre.

The Torre Morisca at night

Torre Morisca 360°


Explore activities in Guayaquil

Torre Morisca map.


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