Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
A great excursion from Valparaiso is to travel south and slightly inland to the capital city of Santiago, which is set at the base of some of the Andes’ tallest peaks. Its pleasant climate, warm days and cool nights, is similar to that of California, in the United States. It was recently hit by a massive earthquake so I am not sure what condition some of these buildings are in.
My walk begins at the Plaza de Armas, a square planned by the founder of Chile in 1541, and the point from which all distances are measured in the country. At the northern end of the square is the Palacio de la Real Audencia, home of the National Historical Museum, as well as the Correo Central, certainly one of the most ostentatious post offices in the world. Also on this side of the plaza is the City Hall (Municipalidad de Santiago). Wander around the square to admire the fountains, gardens, and palm trees. To the west is the Catedral Metropolitana, which dates to 1780 and contains a beautiful altar.
Just south of the square, on Calle Merced, is Casa Colorada (Red House), once the residence of Chile’s president, and a fine example of Colonial architecture. It now houses the Museum of Santiago.
Further along, on Calle Merced, is the Basilica de la Merced. Continue east on Calle Merced, and then turn right on Calle Miraflores, and then left on Calle Agustines, which leads to Cerro Santa Lucia, a hilltop park which provides great views of the city. There are delightful gardens, fountains, and pleasant walkways en route, on your climb.
When you descend, turn left on Miraflores, and then right on Calle Moneda to reach the opulent Teatro Municipal. Then, turn left on Calle San Antonio to get to the Alameda (Avenue del Libertador Gen. B. O’Higgins), the city’s major boulevard.
Ahead of you is Iglesia San Francisco, the oldest building in the city (1586). On the premises is a museum, in the former convent, whose grounds are wonderfully peaceful to stroll.
Also on the left, just beyond the church, is Avenue Londres, entryway into the Barrio Paris-Londres, a charming section of the city, with cobblestone streets and an ambience that suggests Paris’ Latin Quarter (Walk down Londres and return to Alameda on Calle Paris).
Take a brief detour by turning right, just after Paseo Ahumada, to find the Club de la Union, and another fine Neo-classical structure, the Chilean Stock Exchange, then return to Alameda and continue westward to find the Plaza de la Libertad. Just north of the square is Palacio de la Moneda, the Presidential Palace for over one hundred years.
The palace actually sits on Plaza de la Constitucion, lined with formal government buildings. A Changing of the Guard Ceremony takes place here every other day at 10 AM. There are also several monuments on the plaza, dedicated to famous Chileans.
Now, continue north on Calle Moneda to find the stately Palacio de los Tribunales de Justicia, and then the National Congress. Just past the Congress building, turn right on Calle Catedral to return to Plaza de Armas, where the walk began.