The Streets of Santiago, Chile

I can’t remember quite what I was expecting flying into Santiago at the start of my first visit to South America. But I have to admit that Chile’s capital city was a revelation.

I guess I hadn’t imagined it would look so European. Much more so than the vast majority of North American cities. Although over the following three weeks, I was to learn this is the norm for South America.

Old Arsenal, to the west of the main historic centre of Santiago

Old Arsenal, to the west of the main historic centre of Santiago

I was also surprised at the apparent prosperity of Santiago, and indeed all the parts of Chile that I saw. Although obviously there are still some very poor areas, our guides Antonio and John (from AFI Services) told us that things have been getting better and better over the last 15 years or so, and the country’s future seems very bright.

Antonio and John gave us a real flavour for Santiago (not to mention Valparaiso and up into the Andes). After introducing us to some of the districts to the west of the city centre by car, they took us for a stroll through a tiny plaza in the Barrio Concha y Toro with the grand title of Plazoleta de la Libertad de Prensa (Small Square of the Freedom of the Press). It was like being back in any number of small towns in Spain or Italy.

Street leading up to Plazoleta de la Libertad de Prensa

Street leading up to Plazoleta de la Libertad de Prensa

If the small plaza has a weighty name, the water feature at its heart has an even more impressive handle: the International Freedom of the Press Fountain

If the small plaza has a weighty name, the water feature at its heart has an even more impressive handle: the International Freedom of the Press Fountain

Our main walking tour with Antonio began in Plaza de la Ciudadanía, outside the Palacio de La Moneda, the old mint that now serves as Chile’s Presidential Headquarters.

Palacio de La Moneda from Plaza de la Ciudadanía

Palacio de La Moneda from Plaza de la Ciudadanía

From here we wound our way through the streets of the historic centre, via Plaza de la Constitucion, to the city’s foremost open space, Plaza de Armas.

The other side of Palacio de La Moneda, which faces Plaza de la Constitucion

The other side of Palacio de La Moneda, which faces Plaza de la Constitucion

Looking across Plaza de la Constitucion

Looking across Plaza de la Constitucion

The former Congress Building

The former Congress Building

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

All distances in Chile are measured relative to this spot in Plaza de Armas

All distances in Chile are measured relative to this spot in Plaza de Armas

Next we relocated to the beautiful Cerro Santa Lucía. This small hill in the centre of old Santiago was once the site of a fortress, but is now a green oasis where locals and tourists come to enjoy spectacular views of the city.

The Plaza Neptuna staircase and fountains at the southern end of Cerro Santa Lucía

The Plaza Neptuna staircase and fountains at the southern end of Cerro Santa Lucía

There are many tunnels beneath Cerro Santa Lucía, although sadly they've been closed since the last big earthquake

There are many tunnels beneath Cerro Santa Lucía, although sadly they’ve been closed since the last big earthquake

Stairs up to the upper viewing platform, Cerro Santa Lucía

Stairs up to the upper viewing platform, Cerro Santa Lucía

View west from Cerro Santa Lucía towards the historic heart of Santiago

View west from Cerro Santa Lucía towards the historic heart of Santiago

View east towards Providencia

View east towards Providencia

That evening we wandered across the bridge from our hotel off Plaza Baquedano into the vibrant Barrio Bellavista neighbourhood. Here we tried Pastel de Choclo (Chilean corn pie) in an authentic local restaurant. I can tell you, it wasn’t the last time we had that for dinner… it was delicious!

Traditional restaurant in Bellavista (which does amazing Pastel de Choclo!)

Traditional restaurant in Bellavista (which does amazing Pastel de Choclo!)

We didn't stop here, but we found it amusing since Rich & Sue have a dog called Charlie

We didn’t stop here, but we found it amusing since Rich & Sue have a dog called Charlie

The next morning we saw a bit of the modern district at the eastern end of Providencia, before heading up into the Andes for the day. (Doesn’t that have an amazing ring to it? “Heading up into the Andes for the day!”) This area is the business heart of the country, which has earned it the nickname Sanhattan, a tongue-in-cheek combination of Santiago and Manhattan.

Early morning view from our hotel across to Cerro San Cristobal

Early morning view from our hotel across to Cerro San Cristobal

Sculpture in Plaza a la Aviación, along Providencia

Sculpture in Plaza a la Aviación, along Providencia

Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in South America at 984 feet

Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in South America at 984 feet

It's not all new buildings in Sanhattan

It’s not all new buildings in Sanhattan

Once again left to our own devices after a wonderful day in the mountains, we took a walk into the heart of the historic centre, returning to Plaza de Armas at dusk. What a wonderful way to spend our last evening in this beautiful city.

Church and Convent of San Francisco, the oldest surviving building in Santiago

Church and Convent of San Francisco, the oldest surviving building in Santiago

Palacio de La Moneda at sunset

Palacio de La Moneda at sunset

Plaza de Armas at dusk

Plaza de Armas at dusk

Palacio de la Real de la Audencia, Plaza de Armas, was Chile's Supreme Court until 1810

Palacio de la Real de la Audencia, Plaza de Armas, was Chile’s Supreme Court until 1810

Correo Central, Plaza de Armas, is Chile's Central Post Office.

Correo Central, Plaza de Armas, is Chile’s Central Post Office.

And do you know what the best thing is about Santiago?…. Next February I get to go back again! I’m really looking forward to meeting up with Antonio and John once more!

The German Fountain in the Parque Forestal, near our hotel

The German Fountain in the Parque Forestal, near our hotel

This post was inspired by Cee’s Which Way Challenge and Jo’s Monday walk. I suppose you could also say it fits with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for the week, which is Habits, since exploring new places, taking photos of my Journeys (actually, Rich does this part, since they don’t really make proper cameras small enough for me to use) and writing blogs about my experiences are some of my favourite habits!

Having the Torre Telefónica right beside out hotel made navigating home really easy!

Having the Torre Telefónica right beside out hotel made navigating home really easy!

If you’re the sort of person that loves exploring historic, faraway places, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in Adventure, History, Jaspa's Journey, Photography, South America, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Streets of Santiago, Chile

  1. restlessjo says:

    I don’t know why it is that we persist in viewing South America as third world when some of it’s cities are the rival of anything we have in Europe. My favourite part is Cerro Santa Lucia. Looks wonderful. Thanks, Jaspa 🙂

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    You have some wonderful photos for which ways. 😀

  3. Fabulous photo gallery, Jaspa. I loved my South American trip but haven’t been to Chile yet. I’ve just got home from gym and could really fancy climbing those steps up to the viewing platform. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Which Way Challenge-15-Wk-34 | WoollyMuses

  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Vila Nova de Milfontes | restlessjo

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