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Historic Destinations and Heritage Sites

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Historic Destinations and Heritage Sites

In terms of cultural heritage, the heart of Chile is Valparaíso, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the most important port for the country's international trade prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, when ships stopping crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Strait of Magellan. This age of economic prosperity left a legacy of important architecture (banks, institutional buildings and the residences of the wealthy owners of northern salt peter mines), as well as old public elevators, which residents still use to travel up and down the town's hills. Picturesque homes that seem to cling to the hills, and narrow streets and stairways, colorful street murals, sailor bars, phenomenal views and artsy cafés are just some of this old and craggy port town's attractions.

Downtown Santiago is another historic destination that is well worth a visit. La Moneda, the historic buildings of Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, museums, old restaurants, colonial homes and the residence that was used for the signing of the country's Declaration of Independence are among the most popular attractions.

In the south, large cities like Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt and nearby towns like Frutillar and Puerto Octay have preserved the architectural style of the 19th century (large wooden homes) brought to the area by German colonists.

As a mining country, Chile is still home to vestiges of former deposits and excavation sites such as the old salt peter works outside Iquique and Antofagasta, the underwater coal mine at Lota (near Concepción) and the mining town of Sewell, a World Heritage Site outside of Rancagua. The architecture of Iquique and Antofagasta is a testament to the splendor of Chile's saltpeter era.

In Lota, former miners serve as guides on tours of the underwater coal mine, telling the story of the era's prosperity, which is reflected in the magnificent buildings and a wonderful 19th century park.

Sewell is a former mining hotbed that was once home to 15,000 copper mining families. You can take a tour to learn about the history of this historic destination, which is situated on a pine-laden slope in the mountains and filled with colorful houses.

With its eye-catching stilt houses perched above the water (known as palafitos) and 60 wooden churches dating as far back as the 18th century, Chiloé is another top destination. The architectural style of the churches, which were built by various religious congregations (Jesuits, in particular) with the aid of local native communities, is absolutely unique. Sixteen of the structures have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

Featured Destinations

aSan Pedro de Atacama bCopiapó
cLa Serena and Coquimbo dSantiago
eCentral Coast fHighlights of the Central Valley
GVineyards HEaster Island
IChiloé JPucón, Villarrica and Temuco
KValdivia and Osorno

 

Tips

01

Saltpeter Works Immerse Yourself in Valparaíso Palacio Baburizza
The saltpeter mining communities of Humberstone, Santa Laura and María Elena are ghost towns and open-air museums where you can learn about the desert's mining past by exploring their theaters, squares and houses, which date back to the 19th century. They were abandoned when saltpeter's day as "Chile's paycheck" passed. The hills and narrow streets of Valparaiso don't suggest any traditional route. The best thing to do is to lose yourself in the town, going from one hill to the next without knowing how you got there. There's no reason to get flustered: most of the stairways lead back to the downtown area, and you can always ask for directions. Construction was completed on Palacio Baburizza on Valparaiso's Cerro Alegre in 1916. It is the creation of two noted Italian architected who worked in the area in the early 20th century. The mansion faithfully reproduced the language of art nouveau and its spot on Paseo Yugoslavo offers a spectacular view of the bay. Palacio Baburizza is currently home to the Museum of Fine Arts' Pinacoteca (Gallery).

02

Pablo Neruda Santiago Neighborhoods
Visit Pablo Neruda's Valparaíso home, "La Sebastiana." The landmark reveals a great deal of the poet's artistic identity, and the hundreds of objects collected on his travels – and the splendid view of the port – offer a feast for the senses. Visits to the Yungay, Brasil and Concha y Toro areas make for a wonderful Santiago excursion. During the 19th century, the neighborhoods were inhabited by the wealthy families who financed the lovely local architecture. Today, its center is Plaza Brasil, which offers a wealth of cultural and dining options and has become a popular place to live for young artists.

 

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News and Stories

There is never a dull moment in Valparaíso, Chile.
Published:
01 Feb. 2014
There are no translations available. Un nuevo parque
Published:
31 Jan. 2014
A perfect combination of crystal-clear water and
Published:
30 Jan. 2014

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