Santiago is a city brimming with culture, a quality you're sure to notice as you walk down its streets. The city's old quarter is one of the best examples of this. It is home to a large number of museums, theaters and similar institutions that attract local and international visitors alike.
For example, the Teatro Municipal located on Calle Agustinas and San Antonio hosts notable national and international dance performances, operas, concerts and more. The Museo de Bellas Artes (across from Parque Forestal) offers world-class exhibits. Meanwhile, the Museo de Arte Precolombino at the intersection of Calle Bandera and Compañia is renowned for its pioneering efforts to showcase the artistic legacy of the peoples who inhabited the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. The Museo Histórico Nacional (at Plaza de Armas) houses interesting collections that will give you a sense of Chile's history, including furniture, decorative pieces, weapons, tools, clothing and a valuable photo archive.
Farther west, on Calle Matucana, you'll find the Quinta Normal Park, which is home to a number of cultural centers including the Museo Ferroviario (Railroad Museum) and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, one of the oldest such institutions in the Americas.
Nearby, you can visit Matucana 100, a cultural center founded less than a decade ago that has established itself as one of the most important in the capital.
Other places of great cultural interest are the Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights) and the Biblioteca de Santiago (Santiago Library), both adjacent to Quinta Normal, and the recently inaugurated Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center near Plaza Italia.
Once a year, some of the city's most important museums waive their admission fees and keep their doors open until midnight. The event, known as "Museos de Medianoche", is designed to expose the general public to culture, heritage and the visual arts.
Another big cultural event is "Teatro a Mil", a theater festival held each January that boasts a wide variety of productions and very low ticket prices.
Every year, the most important historical buildings in Santiago (including the Palacio La Moneda, the seat of government), open their doors to the public on the last Sunday in May. The event, which is called "Día del Patrimonio" ("Heritage Day"), is quite popular among the city's residents.
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