Live the Past and Present in Santiago's Historical Center
Like other developing cities, Santiago combines a love of history with an air of modernity and offers visitors a chance to see a unique blend of buildings from different eras.
The historical center of the Chilean capital is located right downtown, forming a triangle that begins at Plaza Baquedano and extends south between Av. Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, better known as the Alameda, north towards the Mapocho River and Parque Forestal and west towards the Central highway. This is the heart of Santiago and home to the city's most important attractions.
The Plaza de Armas
is probably the most characteristic feature of Santiago's historical center. The square, which is kilometer 0 for all of Chile, is surrounded by some of the city's oldest buildings, including the Municipal Building, which dates back to 1785; the Central Post Office, which was built in 1882; and the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was erected in 1745.
The streets around the square are also home to part of Chile's history. This area includes the cloister and church of La Merced, the Municipal Theater, and the Church of San Francisco, whose first stone was laid in 1572. Casa Colorada, where the first government session was held, sits just one block away. Other local highlights include the Museo de Bellas Artes, a national monument that dates back to 1910, La Moneda, the current seat of government, which was originally used as a mint when it was built in 1805 (hence its name), and the Court Building, which is also a national monument and was built between 1905 and 1930.
Your visit to downtown Santiago and its historical attractions isn't complete without a walk around Cerro Santa Lucía
, the hill that marks the place where Pedro de Valdivia founded the city. It is home to large green areas, lookouts that provide excellent views of the city and a chapel at the summit.
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