City Guide: Santiago de Chile
Santiago, the capital of Chile is situated between the Andes and the Chilean coast line. Due to Chile’s many touristic highlights such as the Atacama Desert, the Easter Island as well as the Beagle Channel, its capital is often overlooked.
With its location, Santiago offers many opportunities for day trips as well as skiing in winter. As you might have read before, we’ve also taken the chance to go to Valparaìso and Vina del Mar for a day trip.
But there are also many things to do and see in Santiago itself. From exploring the mix of historical buildings with European heritage to enjoying the vibrant and modern city life in of the many bars and cafes.
Enjoy the view from Cerro San Cristóbal
Santiago de Chile has many different viewpoints, the most famous among them can be found on the Cerro San Cristóbal. You can either hike up the hill or ride the funicular. Beware that the viewpoint closes just before 7 or 8 pm depending on the season!
From Cerro San Cristóbal you get a full view of the city as well as the mountains in the background. While Santiago isn’t the most beautiful visit from above, the view from the 800-meter-tall peak is still quite stunning. At the top of the hill, you can also find a church as well as a statue of Virgin Mary.
The peak is located in Santiago’s largest public parks, the Santiago Metropolitan Park which also houses a zoo, a botanical garden, a Japanese garden as well as two swimming pools (Tupahue and Antilén). Unfortunately, we only had time to quickly go up to the top of the peak and then return as we had a flight to catch in the evening.
Explore the colourful quarter around the Cerro San Cristóbal
On the first evening when we attempted to go up to the Cerro San Cristóbal, we were unlucky to have just missed the last funicular going up the hill. Instead we opted for a local restaurant in the area.
The quarter at the foot of the peak is very colourful with many lively restaurants. It seemed to be a particularly popular area for students and young people looking for a fun night out.
Visit the Plaza de las Armas
The Plaza de las Armas is the central square in Santiago and thus an ideal spot from where to explore the historical city centre. It is surrounded by many historic buildings such as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, the Central Post Office Building and the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago was constructed in the late 18th century in a neoclassical style, after previous cathedrals had become victims to a number of earthquakes.
The Central Post Office is a historic post office. Previously there was the Presidential Palace located in the same spot of the town. The post office was built in the late 19th century after a design of Ricardo Brown. Later, in 1976, it became a National Monument of Chile.
The Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago was built in the early 19th century and served the royal courts of justice for a very short period of time, before becoming the seat of the new congress. Later the government moved to the La Moneda Palace. Since 1982 the Palacio de la Real Audiencia hosts the National History Museum.
Not far from the Plaza de las Armas you find two more very impressive buildings: the Court of Justice and the Former Headquarters of the National Congress.
The Palacio de los Tribunales de Justicia de Santiago houses the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the martial Court. The Court of Justice was built in a neoclassical style, similarly to many other buildings in Santiago.
Opposite of the Court of Justice you can see Former National Congress Building, a beautiful bright building with white Corinthian columns on the northern and eastern sides.
Pinochet’s coup d’état in 1973 it was used by the congress, between 1990 and 2006 it housed the ministry of foreign affairs then the Chamber of Deputies took over its old offices. The building is surrounded by a great garden.
Palacio de la Moneda
The palace La Moneda is just a short walk away from the central square Plaza de las Armas. It is the seat of the President of Chile and also serves as a working space for three cabinet ministers.
La Moneda was designed by an Italian architect. During the 1973 coup d’état it was the attacked by the military and had to be restored afterwards.
Every two days there is a traditional changing of the guards ceremony and a free guided tour can also be requested only in advance.
Other beautiful buildings in the city centre
Our overall impression of Santiago de Chile
Santiago de Chile didn’t come with a wow effect like many other cities, but it offered quite a variety of historic buildings, one more beautiful than the other. Additionally, I liked the view point a lot as well as the idea of having a very large park in the capital were people can escape a bit from the hustle of the city life. If you are planning a trip to Chile, you should not miss out on visiting its capital!