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Rancagua, Chile - Cueca, Copper, Rodeos and Wine


Cueca Dancers, Chile

Cueca Dancers, Chile

Clarence Fisk

About Rancagua:

Rancagua, Chile is located about an hour south of Santiago by car, and is the capital of Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins region. Known as both an industrial, commercial complex and the respository of much of Chile’s cultural traditions, Rancagua is today a combination of commuter town, agricultural center and tourism.

Founded as Santa Cruz de Triana by governor José Antonio Manso de Velasco in 1743, the village initially drew settlers for the fertile soil and beneficial, Mediterranean climate.

Agriculture and vineyards became the main economy and staple of the colonial era. It became a vital part of Chile's history when patriot forces led by Bernardo O’Higgins met the superior royalist forces of the Spanish army in 1814. The battle raged in and around the main plaza and church before O'Higgins and his men ceded, escaped and found sanctuary in the Cuevas de los Patriotas, seven caves that provided scant shelter in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, better known for Robinson Crusoe.


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Instead of the usual plaza and street layout where streets begin from the corners of the plaza, in Rancagua the streets begin from the sides of the main plaza, called the Plaza del los Heroes.

Things To Do and See in Rancagua:

In town, the most popular visitor sites are those connected with the famous battle on October 1 and 2, 1814. Located in the historic center are:

  • Plaza de los Heroes, the site of a bloody battle. There is an equestrian monument honoring General Bernardo O'Higgins at the center of the square. The brass plaque details the placement of the royalist and patriot troops
  • Cathedral - dating from 1775, was redesigned and rebuilt in 1861 by Italian architect Eusebio Celli.
  • Iglesia de la Merced - declared a national monument in 1954, this is the site from which Bernardo O'Higgins commanded the battle from the roof while awaiting reinforcements that never arrived.
  • Gobernación de Cachapoal - declared a national monument in 1994 and restored in 1996, this two-story building and the chapel around the corner are the only ones to retain their original form.
  • Museo Regional de Rancagua - Displays furnishings and documents of the independence period, plus a large scale model, complete with special effects, of the Batalla de Rancagua
  • Casa de la Cultura - once the headquarters of royalist commander, the house now houses paintings and other art
  • Casa del Pilar de la Esquina - hosts cultural events, expositions and traditional arts and crafts. This was once the home of Fernando Errázuriz Esquina, a creator of Chile's constitution
  • Estadio El Teniente - the site of sports events
  • Rodeo Chileno - Rancagua hosts the Championship Rodeo. See the photos of the Tehuelche Rodeo for an explanation of the rodeo.
  • Campeonato Communal de Cueca - held in April, this dance championship and the rodeo offer residents, contestants and visitors the chance to dance and enjoy the regional wine and of course, lots of chicha and empanadas
  • Things To Do and See near Rancagua:

  • Sewell, also known as El Teniente - for the better part of a century, the only way up to this copper mine and camp was by narrow-gauge railroad. It is now reached by the Carretera del Cobre. Declared a national monument in 1998, Sewell is now more of a ghost town, with only business offices the reminder of a way of life. Tours, with a stop at the country club at Coya, can be arranged in Rancagua.
  • Chapa Verde - ski center with ski school, lifts and rental equipment, reached via CODELCO busses.
  • Rio de Los Cipreses National Reserve - offers a great display of natural vegetation and vegetation. There are two campgrounds.
  • Lago Rapel - this large lake filled by the Cachapoal and Tinguiririca rivers is not only important for electricity production and irrigation but also for sports and recreation. Windsurfing, sailing, water skiing and fishing are popular activities.
  • Termas de Cauquenes - this hot springs spa and resort offers rest and relaxation, fine dining and spa treatments
  • Hacienda Los Lingues - part of the Angostura Estate given in 1599 by King Phillip III to the first mayor of Santiago in recognition of his valuable services, the estate has remained within the same family for more than four centuries and has been preserved as one of the oldest and most traditional of its era. Staying here is a step back in time with superlative service.
  • Colchagua Valley- fertile valley with a number of interesting attractions:
    • Ruta Del Vino De Colchagua - the Wine Tour of the Colchagua wineries is a cooperative effort to promote and organize Chilean wine tourism. Some tours visit the colonial Casa de Huique, the only remaining casco or main house of the original haciendas. You can tour the Museo de El Huique for a glimpse of a long-ago style of life.
    • Museo de Colchagua in Santa Cruz - a controversial private museum created by Chilean industrialist Carlos Cardoen Cornejo who was accused of selling arms, displays a large number of archaeological and historical artifacts.
    • Chimbarongo - town famous for the wicker products from the plantations of salix viminalis which were in use in pre-Columbian times.
    • Lolol - famed for the traditional architecture with adobe, roofing tile and corridor constructions, this town was declared a national monument in 2003
  • Pichilemu is a popular beach area with surfers and sunbathers alike. The annual Campeonato Nacional de Surf takes place at Los Lobos, just south of town.

    If you have comments or questions about Rancagua, please post them on the South America for Visitors Forum .

    Buen viaje!

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