The best way to get to know downtown Santiago is to wander around the pedestrian malls and shopping galleries that run through its stately old buildings. The area offers a wide variety of shops and boutiques that have something for everyone. To get there, take Metro Line 1 to Universidad de Chile or Line 4 to Plaza de Armas, which leaves you steps away from several architectural landmarks. The plaza, which is "km 0" for all of Chile, is flanked by the Correos de Chile (Chilean Post Office) Building, the Municipality of Santiago, and the Catedral Metropolitana.
Paseo Ahumada is a broad pedestrian avenue that runs south from the Plaza de Armas and offers visitors a chance to browse through four blocks of shops, restaurants and music stores. This is the backbone of the downtown area and is traversed by other major arteries that lead to the city's main attractions. The former Congressional Buildings are located on Calle Compañía, which runs between Paseo Ahumada and Plaza de Armas and the Palacio de Tribunales (home to several courts) is just across the street. Paseo Huérfanos, which is mainly a pedestrian mall, is one block down. The eastern segment of this street is open to vehicle traffic and runs all the way to Cerro Santa Lucía, whose centuries' old battlements and canons recall the Spanish conquest. North of Santa Lucia you will find the beautiful Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Art), which was built to commemorate the centennial of Chile's Independence and houses major collections of art work by Chilean and international artists and very interesting temporary exhibits.
On the corner of Agustinas and San Antonio you will find the Santiago Municipal Theatre, and La Moneda, the seat of the Executive Branch, is just two blocks west on Calle Moneda. The square in front of the presidential palace, Plaza de la Constitución, has statues of emblematic historical figures and just underneath it is the Centro Cultural de La Moneda, which houses excellent permanent exhibits in a stunning architectural setting.
If you wander around the city you are likely to come across important churches such as La Merced, Iglesia de la Compañía, Santo Domingo and Agustinas, all treasures of the city's historic and architectural heritage.
Along Santiago's main thoroughfare—Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, also known as "La Alameda"—is Iglesia de San Francisco, a Colonial church and emblematic landmark of Santiago that houses a fine collection of Andean colonial art.
As you move west away from the downtown area, you will be pleasantly surprised by the lively Barrio República, which teems with university students who study and hang out around a striking mixture of 19th century mansions and modern architecture. To the north, Barrio Concha y Toro combines winding streets and stately buildings.
And there is much more. Dare to explore!
|Downtown Santiago||Las Condes|
|Historic Center Santiago
||Shopping Center Santiago