Santiago Mini Guide
What Kind of People go to Santiago
Santiago appeals to a lot of different travellers. There are the sports enthusiasts, especially skiers who want to continue skiing into the northern hemisphere’s summer months. Within an hour of the city you’ll find its biggest resort – Valle Nevado with world class skiing and facilities. Others come to white water raft the rivers that flow from the melt water of the Andes. It’s a good place to learn Spanish and absorb the Latin American culture whilst historians will be interested in the tales of revolution and the fight for independence representative of that across much of the continent.
How can I get There?
is a major airport hub and there are direct flights from Europe, South America, the USA
as well as Oceania.
What’s its Story?
The city was founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia and designed in a very modern grid pattern. The first few years for the city were harsh with regular attacks by the local Indians and periods of siege causing starvation. Eventually the tribes were defeated and the city could develop. In 1817, after the Battle of Chacabuco, the country declared its independence and the city was proclaimed as capital. It grew as an industrial city at the start of the 20th century before entering dark days under the rule of the dictator General Pinochet. Following the restoration of democracy the city continues to thrive.
What can I see When I’m There?
In the city take the grim tour of the Villa Grimaldi which was the torture centre under the regime of General Pinochet. Many of the tours are carried out by former inmates. Visit the Santiago Cathedral, one of the city’s earliest buildings and crammed with details of the city’s history. The house of the internationally renowned poet Pablo Neruda is open to the public. Here you can see his Nobel Prize and see originals of his work.
If i’ve got a Hire car, What Else can I see?
Begin with a ride on the funicular railway to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for a truly spectacular view out over the city. Whilst here, take a look at the statue that crowns the hill. Visit the ski resorts an hour away for some of the best skiing in the world or go on a tour of the wineries that produce the excellent Chilean wine. The biggest is Concha y Toro but there are many others.
What Should I Make Sure I do There?
There’s plenty to do there; go to a salsa club – the dance seems to have been hijacked from Cuba but the clubs are great and free tuition from the locals is always available. Visit one of the jazz clubs for which the city is famous, many include a meal and drinks in the entrance price.
And for the Shopaholic?
It depends on what you want to buy. Fabulous original art is on sale in the Plaza de Armes and amazing second hand clothes can be bought from the thirty or more shops of the street called Bandera. There are many handicraft shops and stalls selling Chilean souvenirs and of course there’s the delicious wine.
Time to eat now
The local speciality is fish caught from the cool waters of the South Pacific. Try the delicious and huge local crabs, simply boiled and served with piquant sauces. To partner it you could try the local wine or the brave might down a Terremoto, a drink made from wine, grape spirit, pineapple ice cream and grenadine!
Apart from the impromptu street dancing, the salsa and jazz clubs there are also a number of religious based festivals especially around Holy Week.
There are few old buildings in the city because successive earthquakes have destroyed many of them. The oldest is the Cathedral of San Francisco
dating from the time of the city’s founding.
Still, the many buildings that have been constructed over the centuries have added a stately air to the city and the ones worth visiting, if you have a hire car, include the Contemporary Art Museum and the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile is famous for its wine and there are many shops offering tastings of the best of its produce.