Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city, sits in a canyon surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and the Chilean Coast Range. Plaza de Armas, the mighty heart of the city’s old colonial core, is home to 2 neoclassical landmarks: the 1808 Palacio de la Real Audiencia, housing the National History Museum, and the 18th-century Metropolitan Cathedral. La Chascona is the home-turned-museum of poet Pablo Neruda.
Here are 8 places to explore in Santiago.
- San Cristobal Hill: Formally Tupahue or “palace of the gods,” now rises over 2500 feet. On the peak of the hill is the “Chapel of the Immaculate Conception,” and a 65-foot sculpture of the Virgin Mary. At the foot of the hill are a zoo and a wonderful Japanese Garden. Also located on the summit is the Manual Foster Observatory.
- Palacio de la Moneda is the area of the Chilean government. It was inaugurated in 1805 as a national mint (Moneda means “coin.” The Palace occupies an entire city block and has a grand facade.
- The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts began in 1880 and transferred to the present location in 1910. It comprises the number of artwork by Chilean artists, plus numerous pieces by South American artists. There are a lovely café and gift shop and it is an attractive place to spend a morning or afternoon. By the way, admission is free on Sundays.
- The American Museum of Natural History is a terrific museum filled with many exhibitions including Environmental Halls, Reptiles and Birds, Fossil Halls, and Human Origins, to name just a few. A charming restaurant and gift shop is open and is a place where you could spend the day.
- The Plaza de Armas is the veritable essence of Santiago and is surrounded by many ancient buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Some delicious restaurants are surrounding the Plaza. It is a fantastic place to spend a couple of hours just watching people.
- The Casa Colorada (Red House) is a Colonial house established in 1769 and houses the Museum of Santiago.
- The Parroquia de Santa Filomena is a beautiful Church built-in 1884. The church is decorated with many beautiful paintings, and the window paintings are spectacular.
- The Inglesia de San Agustin (Church of St. Augustine) was built in 1625 and is the second oldest church in Chile. In the church is a wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ, called Christo de Mayo. There is a local legend that during an earthquake the crown slipped down around the neck of the statue. When they attempted to push it back in place blood started flowing from the face, and the ground began to sway. The statue has survived untouched with the crown still down around the neck. A magnificent church worth the visit.
As always, I am saddened by not being able to cover all of the incredible things you can do in this beautiful city. I have named only a few of them that would help you explore this gorgeous wonder of South America.