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World Heritage - Sewell

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Sewell, World Heritage Mining Village

A little over a century ago, an American company was granted authorization to extract copper from El Teniente Mine in a part of the Andes located east of Rancagua (63 km from Santiago). Chile's first mining town was founded in Cerro Negro in 1905, and a concentration plant and camp were built there and connected to Rancagua by train.

During the copper boom, Sewell's 175,000 m2 of inhabitable land was home around fifteen thousand people. Today, the traces left by the miners who called it home until 1980 are one of the region's highlights.

In Sewell, you will find a group of buildings joined by a large central staircase that forms a sort of passageway. As you enjoy the view, you can see how the buildings are cast into the layout of the hill.

The town's church, hospital, technical school, theater and social club are still standing. Each was painted bright colors and designed especially for the mountain milieu. The neighborhoods were designed in accordance with the inhabitants' responsibilities in the mine, and there are buildings that housed single men as well as detached houses that were home to the company's top executives. Sewell was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006 because of these and other features.

The area is also home to the Gran Minería del Cobre Museum, where you can learn about the historical, social and economic importance of the copper industry through photographs, documents, maps, geological material and tools. Its coverage of the peak years between the 1930s and 1960s is particularly thorough. Note that you can only visit Sewell in the company of a guide from one of the four tour companies that work with Codelco, which owns the complex. For more information, visit www.sewell.cl.

 

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