Visit Santiago de Chile, Chile

Santiago

Santiago is the capital of Chile and its full name is Santiago de Chile. The city sparkles with the glass facades of the modern City, the vast expanse of Argentine pampa to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, endless chains of majestic Andes stretching from north to south and crowned by the continent’s highest mountain, Aconcagua (6,959 m).

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Video: Santiago

Highlights

The city center is surrounded by green residential neighborhoods to the south and east, and houses rise up the slopes of the mountains. In winter, a cloud of smog often envelops the city. Santiago is home to about a quarter of the country’s population. Two hills break up the city’s rectangular layout: the Cerro San Cristobal and Cerro Santa Lucia. Between them you can see the Mapocho River rushing toward the Pacific coast. South of the waterfront, in the Old Town, people and cars move between solid historic buildings, beautiful art galleries, markets and restaurants. An evening in Santiago can be spent in a restaurant, a club or a theater.

Wine connoisseurs will find wineries around the city that have long been renowned for their traditions. To the southeast of Santiago, the path leads to the Cordillera through the picturesque Maipo River Valley. A trip northwards promises an introduction to the Portillo ski region, where a tunnel under a mountain range at 3,900 m leads to the Argentine side, with views of the Aconcagua peak.

History

Santiago originated on the hill of Cerro Santa Lucia (70 m) . In 1541 Pedro de Valdivia laid the first stone to build a chapel here. The settlement was named Santiago del Nuevo Estremo in honor of St. James, the patron saint of the Spanish army. Soon after, the Mapuche Indians destroyed the town, but the Spaniards rebuilt it. However, when they tried to conquer the South in the 16th century, they ran into fierce Indian resistance. Santiago became the capital only after they retreated to the North.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the North, conquered in the Pacific War, proved to be a veritable treasure trove: huge reserves of copper ore and saltpeter were discovered here. The country prospered, and Santiago with it. French architects designed the city’s magnificent mansions and public buildings. And today, beyond all the pomp of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the city is also defined by extravagant modern tall buildings. All the most important political, economic and cultural institutions of the country are located in Santiago, with the exception of the parliament sitting in Valparaiso.

Taking a bus around the city

Taking public transportation around Santiago is a real adventure. Buses race around each other as if they were in a rally. And there’s a speed limit and a regulation that says no more than two buses can travel side by side. But the drivers get paid based on the number of tickets sold, so they literally chase the passengers. The buses are called Micro, and used to be called Gondola, which more accurately describes their technical condition. The small bus is called Liebre (“hare”) . Their exhaust pipes are placed under the roof so that harmful gases can escape upwards. In Santiago, ozone levels are very high, so in winter, when there is virtually no wind, traffic is prohibited in the city.

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At bus stops, it can be difficult to recognize the right bus from afar; you have to raise your hand to make it stop. Routes are numbered, route maps are shown on special signs. Tickets cost the same regardless of the purpose of the trip (less than $1) . To ride the bus in Santiago, you must purchase a plastic Tarjeta Bip! card in advance, which costs about $2, and put money on it, which will be automatically deducted when you enter the bus. Once you put the card to the automatic device on the bus, you can move around the city for two hours, even if you change to another bus, you do not have to pay the fare again. You can recharge your card at ticket booths in subway stations, Bip! Points or Bip! Centers as well as in many stores. You can also use the Bip! -card to pay for your trip on the metro. Bus stops are not announced, you have to tell the bus driver to stop where you are.

Metro

In Santiago, in addition to land-based public transportation, there is also the subway. To date, it consists of five lines and 89 stations, 61 of which are underground and the rest are above-ground or on overpasses. Construction of the subway was begun in 1975 by a French company, so the cars in the Chilean subway, as well as in Paris, are on the “rubber”. The total length of the subway lines is 84.4 km. The subway works every day: on weekdays and Sat. 6.30-22.30, on Sunday and holidays. – 8.00-22.30. To travel in the subway is used the same Tarjeta Bip!, as in the buses.

Another subway is built in a Chilean city Valparaiso, located 110 km from Santiago. Ceremonial opening of the Underground took place in 2005. The subway consists of one line with total length of 43 km and 20 stations. It was built on the basis of the former suburban railroad. For this purpose, new sections of road were laid, and the old railway stations were rebuilt and renovated. The Valparaiso Metro runs between Valparaiso Bay and Limache. The end-to-end trip takes 50 minutes, with trains running every 5 minutes. The cost of the trip depends on its duration (5 fare zones) and on the time of day. There are low (06.00-06.30/10.00-17.00/20.30-23.30), medium (06.30-07.30/09.00-10.00/17.00-18.00/19.30-20.30) and high (07.30-09.00/18.00-19.30) fares. In general, a ticket costs no more than $1-1.5.

El Centro – the heart of the city of Cerro Santa Lucia

The first walk through the city center involves a tour of twenty blocks and will take one day. The starting point is the National Library (Biblioteca National, Alameda 651), built in 1913-1914 in imitation of the French style.

The reward for climbing the monumental staircase up the hill of Santa Lucia will be amazing views of the city and, in the summer, perhaps a concert as well. At noon sharp, from Terraza Caupolican, where the monument to the Mapuche heroes stands, the thunder of cannon fire can be heard. Along the hill, the road leads past Palacio Hidalgo, the ruins of the fortress that Pedro de Valdivia built. From here you can take a chairlift or walk down to the foot of the hill.

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At the entrance to the hill, police officers check documents, ensuring the safety of the entire area.

The next destination is the Basilica de la Merced, the main church of the city. It was built in 1549, but has been rebuilt three times since, and now has a neo-Renaissance appearance. The Baroque pulpit (eighteenth century) from the workshops of the German Jesuit monks and the statue of the Virgin Mary have been preserved. A small museum displays interesting finds from Easter Island, including rare tablets of Rongo Rongo script (Tuesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) .

In the elegant Teatro Municipal on Calle Agustinas the repertoire surprises with variety. The building was built in 1857 by Joaquin Toeschi, one of the most famous architects of the 18th century in Latin America (www.municipal.cl) .

Plaza de Armas

Along Calle Estado to Plaza de Armas, crowds of people rush in. On the right, at the beginning of Calle Merced, you can see an interesting building: the Casa Colorado. A modest colonial style building built in 1769 for the Spanish governor, it became the president’s residence in 1910. The Civic Museum is now there, which gives an idea of the upper class culture in former times (Tue-Fri 10:00-18:00, Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun/holidays 11:00-14:00) .

Tall and slender Chilean palm trees invite you to relax in the shade of the Plaza de Armas – Place d’Armes – where you can watch street vendors, artists, and musicians. At the northeastern end of the square stands the equestrian statue of Pedro de Valdivia.

On the north side is the Municipalidad, a noble neoclassical building from 1790. To the left is the National Historical Museum, which presents the history of the country from the pre-Hispanic period to the 20th century (Mon-Fri 10.00-18.00, www.dibam.cl).

The Main Post Office (Correo Central) completes the line of houses and in the glass of the new palace on the corner you can see the majestic cathedral. Earthquakes destroyed this temple three times, but each time it was rebuilt according to the plans Joaquin Toeschi made two hundred years ago. In the three-nave interior, the magnificent silver altar (left) draws attention. In the museum nearby are items and utensils from the ruined Jesuit church (Mon. 10.30-13.00, 15.30-18.00) .

A modern sculpture, installed in memory of the country’s original population, seems to point the way from the square to Paseo Ahumada. This pedestrian area is also full of street vendors offering everything from matches.

West of Plaza de Armas

On Calle Bandera, in an elegant former customs building (Real Casa de la Aduana), is one of the continent’s best museums, the Museo de Arte Precolombo. There are pieces of ancient art: the continent’s earliest ceramics (3000-1500 BC), stone works, textiles from Ecuador and Peru, etc. (Bandera 361, Tue-Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.) .

Opposite the Supreme Court (Tribunales de Justicia, early 20th century) in the former Palace of Congresses is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statue of the Virgin Mary in the garden commemorates the 2,000 parishioners who died in a fire in the Jesuit church in 1863.

Constitution Square and the Alameda

Calle Morande in the southern part of the city ends at the spacious and green Plaza de la Constitución. The largest building built in the 18th century by the Spanish kingdom in Latin America is La Moneda (Palacio de la Moneda), from 1858 to 1958 the residence of the president and later the seat of government. The courtyards are open to the public (Monday through Sunday at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., changing of guards at 10 a.m. on odd-night afternoons). The southern facade faces wide General Bernardo O’Higgins, the main street in the central part of the city. It used to be occupied by poplars, which is why it is still called Alameda. On the square opposite is a monument to General Bernardo O’Higgins, the legendary hero is buried beneath it, in a crypt.

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Two blocks away, on the east side, is the main building of the University of Chile, built in classicist style. Opposite it is the elegant Club de la Union. The walls of its halls decorate the paintings of Chilean artists. Behind the club is the Stock Exchange, opened in 1893, where you can go (in winter Mon-Fri 9.30-16.30, in summer until 17.30) .

The oldest of Santiago’s buildings, the San Francisco church (San Francisco, 1586) with its red walls, gives Alameda a special beauty. It has withstood all earthquakes and is now considered a symbol of the city. The treasure on the church’s central altar is a 450-year-old sculpture of the Virgin of Socorro (Virgen del Socorro, “the Helper”). She was placed there by Pedro de Valdivia, the founder of the city, and before that she accompanied him on all his journeys, tied to his saddle.

Adjacent to the church is a museum of paintings, sculptures, art and church utensils from the colonial period, mainly from the schools of Quito, Cuzco and Potosí (Tue-Saturday 10am-13.30pm, 3pm-6pm, Sat./holiday 10am-14pm).

On the Mapocho River

At the northern end of the Old Town, near the former train station (Estacion), the eight-span Puente Calicanto bridge, built during the colonial period, crosses the river.

The flower market (Mercado de Flores) is amazing with the abundance and splendor of flowers and plants. A stone’s throw away, the Vegetable Market presents all the variety of produce produced in Chile.

The metal construction of the former station was designed by the Eiffel brothers. But trains have long since stopped running here. People flock to the station building to attend an exhibition, or a concert, or a play (program: www.estacionmapocho.cl) .

In 1872 another iron and steel building appeared nearby, but it is not an exhibition space but the stalls of the Central Market (Mercado Central) .

In the market pavilions there are several small eateries where you can taste the local cuisine: for example, Donde Augusto.

On Calle Esmeralda there is the Corregidor (Posada del Corregior, XVIII century), where exhibitions are regularly held (Mon-Fri 10.00-18.00) .

In the shade of the ancient trees of the Parque Forestal stands the Museo National de Bellas Artes, the oldest art museum in South America, with a collection of over 5,000 works from the colonial era to the 20th century (Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-6:50 p.m., www.dibam.cl www.mnba.cl). In the same building are the Museum of Modern Art and the Academy of Art (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., sundays/holidays 11 a.m.-6 p.m., www.mac.uchile.cl) .

On Via 1. Lastarria is the entrance to the Plaza del Mulato Gil de Castro Art Center, where the intricate passageways and corridors contain artists’ and sculptors’ studios, pottery workshops, as well as bookstores, a theater, galleries and the Museo Arqueoldgico de Santiago (rotating exhibitions: Tuesdays and Sundays 10.30-18.30) . The small restaurants have a bohemian atmosphere and all the stores look very welcoming.

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Bellavista

San Cristobal Hill.

On the north bank of the Mapocho River sits the Bellavista neighborhood, home to artists and art people. Narrow tree-lined streets, small squares and squares, art galleries, restaurants and trendy beer gardens, jewelry shops where semi-precious stones are cut before your eyes, and ice-cream parlors. Via Malinckrodt, Dardignac, Punta Ruiz and A. Lopez de Bello you can walk to the house of Pablo Neruda, the writer and Nobel laureate. In his La Chascona mansion (La Chascona, Calle Fernando Marques de la Plata 0192) you can see the library and paintings by Chilean artists (Tues. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Jan./Feb. 10.00-19.00. www. fundacionneruda.org) .

From Plaza Caupolican a cable car goes (Mon. 13:00-20:00, Sat. 10:00-20:00) to the San Cristobal hill (Cerro San Cristobal) The sunset offers a breathtaking view of the Cordillera and the huge city in flames. The huge statue of the Virgin Mary (Virgen de la inmaculada Conception) opens its arms to the city it patronizes. From the City Park (Parque Metropolitano) you can go further east by funicular (Teleferico, now closed) .

Walking around the City Park is a great pleasure. The Camino Real, with its sparkling wine museum and panoramic view (every day 12:00-16:00 and 19:00-23:00), is a great place to explore.

Shopping in the expensive area

At Plaza Baquedano (also called Plaza Italia) ends the old part of town. From here Avenida Bernardo O’Higgins continues on to Avenida Provedencia which leads to the Barrios Altos above. The neighborhoods are transformed into shopping malls as you can check out the marble and brass center of Alto Las Condes and its 240 boutiques, or Parque Arauco or Apumanque. It can also be reached by metro or bus.

In the expensive Las Condes neighborhood, at the very end of Avenida Apoquindo (near Los Dominicos Church), the “artisan village” of Los Craneros del Alba has emerged. In Pueblito, you can see craftsmen at work: they draw, paint pots, make jewelry, and carve figures out of wood. Of course, you can also buy their products (Mon-Fri 11:00-19:30) .

Visit Santiago de Chile, Chile

The capital of Chile, located at the foot of the Andes mountain range and crossed by the Mapocho River, has in recent decades become one of the most modern business centers on the continent and a major destination for international tourism, which can start here before exploring the rest of the country.

Santiago is a city of great avenues and large squares, surrounded by public buildings and churches with parks, with a road network that connects a very large metropolis stretching over 500 km2. It has an extensive transportation system that connects the various parts of the city, more than 200 km of urban thoroughfares that criss-cross it, linking the center with the commercial districts and the suburbs.

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Visit Santiago de Chile, Chile

What to see

This is a well-organized city in terms of public transportation, and its subway is one of the most modern in the world, allowing tourists and locals to get from one point to another without problems. Of course, other services are just as important: restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and banks.

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Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas is the heart of Santiago’s historic center, the first part of the city, a very lively square full of people, street artists and stores.

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What to see

Central Market

The Central Market is a few steps from the Plaza de Armas and is a beautiful structure built in 1872. It is still an important selling point for fresh fish, but it has also become one of the most popular and popular places for tourists.

As you cross the stalls of the fishmongers you can admire all the marine species that are caught in the Pacific, but if you happen to feel a little weak in the courtyard, there are restaurants where you can try the typical dishes made from these delicacies.

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What to see

La Chascona, home of Pablo Neruda

At the foot of the hill of San Cristóbal is La Chascona, the house that Pablo Neruda built in 1953 for Matilde Urrutia, his mistress and later to become his third wife. During your visit you will be able to see many objects that Neruda collected during his travels, but above all the portrait of Matilda by Diego Rivera, the great Mexican painter.

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What to see

The Surroundings of Santiago.

It is located in the heart of the Maipo Valley, the valley from which many of the most respected Chilean wines in the world are produced. Santiago’s vineyards and surroundings are among the most important attractions in the city, especially for those who appreciate the wine culture and history of the country.

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What to see

Santiago’s vineyards

The famous wineries of Cousio Macul, Undurraga, Concha y Toro, Santa Carolina and Santa Rita are all less than an hour from downtown Santiago and are therefore easy to visit. In addition to tours of the vineyards and cellars, these fine Chilean wines can be tasted and bought in the sales rooms at very reasonable prices, as well as great souvenirs to take home.

If you have more time, you can explore other vineyards close to Santiago in the Casablanca Valley, on the road to Viña del Mar, about 200 km south of Santiago. Wine tours in the Colchagua Valley are a great experience in Chile’s largest wine region, but they require at least a day or two to enjoy them as they deserve.

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What to see

Santiago’s ski resorts

The capital of Chile is one of the few cities in the world that also boasts famous places for skiing, snowboarding or just watching the snow a few kilometers away. El Colorado and Farellones, or La Parva, Valle Nevado or Portillo are ski resorts located about fifty kilometers from the city.

This is why Santiago is also an interesting winter destination, especially during the ski season, which begins in the second half of June and ends in early October.

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Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

Do you have a few more days? So why not take an unforgettable excursion through the beautiful vineyards of the valleys until you reach the Pacific coast? Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are two stunning Chilean coastal resorts with beaches, historic ports and all that such beautiful seaside destinations have to offer .

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