Exploring Historic Santiago, Chile


Marilyn Jones 

I wake to rain pelting the windows. My plans for the day are to explore the heart of Santiago and a little — or a lot — of rain isn’t going to stop me.

Juggling an umbrella, camera and tote bag, I start out by exploring the quiet streets in a neighborhood just outside downtown. Many of the palatial mansions, from the turn-of-the-last century, house accommodations and restaurants.

I head for the Santa Lucia Hill. The hill was held by the indigenous Incas until it was captured by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia on December 13, 1541 — Santa Lucia Day. Today the hill is a beautiful park commemorating the founding of Santiago. The fountains, statues and staircase leading up to a fort built in 1840 are additions made by Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna. The writer, journalist, historian and politician spearheaded change and improvement in the city in the late 1800s.


I make a brief visit to the National Library of Chile. Built in 1913, it is ornately decorated with stained glass, chandeliers, pillars and carved wood trim.

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