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What to Do in Santiago, Chile


Santiago, Chile's capital, spreads between the Andes and the coastal range, streches between the Rio Mapocho and the Rio Maipo, and within these natural boundaries, offers a numtber of scenic, cultural and historical attractions easily seen in a few days. Exploring beyound the city limits, sporting and recreational activities are easily available.

1. Central Santiago

Plaza de Armas and Pigeons
Bill Glover
This walking tour of Central Santiago includes visits to a number of Santiago landmarks all easily accessible from the historic Plaza de Armas.

2. Mercado Central

Mercado Central
Bill Glover
The Mercado Central, an imposing wrought iron building reminiscent of a London rail way station, was fabricated in England and brought piecemeal to Chile and assembled here for the National Exposition of 1872. Later, it became a market, and it's a busy place, with produce and seafood and eating places, either in small food stalls or the restaurants that bring Santiaguinos to their tables.

3. Palacio de la Moneda

La Moneda Facade
Bill Glover
Familiarly known as la Moneda, the building was once criticized as being too lavish and ostentatious but is now considered as one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in Latin America.

The building was severely damaged during the 1973 coup d'état when General Augusto Pinochet's troops shelled and bombed the building until President Salvador Allende surrendered and committed suicide. The damage has since been repaired and La Moneda again serves as presidential offices.

4. Museo de Santiago - Casa Colorada

Casa Colorado, Museo de Santiago
The building, named for its paint, was an important residence in colonial times. Hosting both Jose de San Maerin, Bernardo O'Higgins and Lord Cochrane at various times, the building now showcases the city' history, including a number of dioramas representing key moments in the city and country's history.

A visitor's bureau is located here.

5. Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Housed in a late Colonial buidling that first housed the Real Casa de Aduana, the Biblioteca Nacional and the Tribunales de Justicia, the museum displays extensive collections of pre-Columbian art from Central and South America. Well worth a lengthy visit, the museum is open 10 am - 6 pm daily except Monday and on holidays/

6. Museo Neruda - La Chascona

Appearing more conventional than Pablo Neruda's other homes, and named La Chascona for the messy hairstyle of his third wife, Matilde Urrutia, the museum is located in the Barrio Bellavista. It is operated by the Fundacion Neruda, with guided tours, a small amphitheater, cafe, bookshop and a souvenir shop.

7. Viña Cousiño Macul

Santiago grew up and around this family owned winery dating from 1856. Using only estate grown grapes, the winery is open for tours and winetasting.

8. Cerro San Cristobal

Santiago Centro from San Cristobal
Peter and Jackie Main
Cerro San Cristobal is the highest hill in Santiago and offers a panoramic view of the city. You can ascend the hill via funicular. Along with the views, there is the municipal zoo, Mapulemu botanical gardens, Tupahu swimming pool, a Japanese garden, a casino, the Casa Anahuac de Cultura and the spendid statue of the Virgen del Cerro San Cristobal, the site of an annual pilgrimage for devout Chileans.

9. Concha y Toro Winery

Concha y Toro Winery
Peter and Jackie Main
The Concha y Toro Vineyard was founded by Melchor Santiago de Concha y Cerda and his wife, Emiliana Subercaseaux, in 1883. Located in Pirque, 27 km south of Santiago, the scenic winery offers tours, winetasting and a view into Chilean wines and varietals.

10. Tren del Vino

Ride in comfort on the Wine Train, an old train through the Colchagua valley to view the scenery, sample wines and palate cleansers while touring a vineyard and enjoying a typical meal. The Tren dek Vino's various programs combine wine-tasting, vineyard tours and cultural attractions.
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