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The Architecture of Chile’s Main Port

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Valparaíso's Architectural Treasures

Long before it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Valparaíso had been recognized as an outstanding symbol of Chile's architectural heritage. Its fame is based on its iconic downtown buildings and the 40 steep hillsides upon which houses and mansions of many different styles have perched precariously over the bay for over three centuries.

The city's downtown (or "flat") area is home to stately examples of traditional local architecture that reflect the economic prosperity that the city enjoyed during the pre-Panama Canal era, when Valparaíso was a mandatory port of call for all ships sailing from Europe to the Americas.

Cerro Artillería is home to the former Naval Academy (1893), now the Naval Museum. Avenida 21 de Mayo circles the establishment, offering the best view of the port from a pair of centuries' old pergolas. Immediately below the museum, at the bottom of the Artillería elevator, is the former Aduana or Custom House, which was built in 1844 on the city's first pier. From here it is a short walk to Iglesia de la Matriz, the city's oldest church, which was built in 1559 and reconstructed in 1842. It stands next to the market and in plain view of the throngs of people who work and pass through here.

And there is still so much more to discover. Several buildings with enormous aesthetic value stand between Plaza Sotomayor and Plaza Victoria, including Edificio Reloj Turri (1929), Edificio el Mercurio (1901), Palacio Ross (1890) and the Museo de Historia Natural or Palacio Lyon (1881). A visit to the "Cemetery of the Dissidents" (1827) on Cerro Panteón, with its mausoleums of famous historic and artistic figures, is also a must. Valparaíso is a master class of architectural styles that have stood overlooking the sea for decades and remain there today, for your enjoyment.


Featured Destinations

aViña del Mar bValparaíso
cIsla Negra
eAlgarrobo fPichilemu


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The Architecture of Chile’s Main Port
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