Valdivia, Chile, the City of Rivers, was founded on the Bahía de Corral by Pedro_de_Valdivia
on February 9, 1522 who named the new settlement Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia. Taking advantage Of the harbor, the rivers and the strategic location for ships rounding Cape Horn or navigating the Strait of Magellan on the route to Lima and the Viceroyalty of Peru, the founding fathers were pleased to find the area rich in timber and gold.
Valdivia became an important port known as the La Perla del Sur
, Southern Pearl, an enviable asset of the Spanish crown. To protect Valdivia and Bahía de Corral, Spanish forces began building forts
in 1645, constructing the castillos at Mancera, Corral, Niebla, Amargos and Cruces, and among others, the forts of San Carlos and El Molino. Valdivia became the most heavily fortified port in the Spanish colonies.
In addition to repelling any foreign forces and pirates intending to take the Southern Pearl for themselves, the locals had to fight the Mapuche nation who were understandably upset with this invasion of their homelands. The forts were also intended to keep the route between Santiago and other cities open. In 1553/1554 the Mapuches rebelled and according to legend, Pedro de Valdivia was captured,
Impaled on a stake and his heart cut into pieces and eaten by the Mapuche leader,
Even after Chile separated from Peru and attained independence from Spain, this area of Chile remained loyal to the Spanish crown. It took a surprise attack from Lord Cochrane
and the Chilean navy to conquer the city and formally annex it to Chile in 1821.
In the latter part of the 19th century, an influx of German emigrants moved to the area during a national immigration program.
They revitalized the economy, brought in new industry, including breweries, and made their mark in local architecture with their distinctive styles.
Frequent guest author Clarence Fisk shares the photos and account of his visit to Valdivia in La Herencia Arquitectónica De La Inmigración Alemana En La Ciudad De Valdivia.
In 1960, Valdivia was near the epicenter of a 9.5 earthquake, termed the Largest Earthquake in the World. The resulting tsunamis were felt across the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, the fatalities weren’t as high as they could have been, but much of Valdivia and nearby historic forts were destroyed. The river courses changed and where the earth sank, the resulting flooding created an aquatic area now maintained as the wetlands of the Santuario de la Naturaleza Carlos Anwandter.
Getting and Staying There:
Called the City of Rivers, for the Valdivia, Cau Cau and Calle Calle rivers and others that bisect or surround the city, and add much to the natural scenic beauty. Getting There is easy by air or land by the Carretera Panamericana Troncal.
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When to Go:
Valdivia is an all-season destination, with an overall temperate, if rainy, climate. Spring and summer, from November to April, are drier months than the winter months, but expect rain at any time. Rain is heavier during May to October, and cold.
Check the current Weather and forecast.
Every February, honoring the city’s founding, the Semana Valdiviana celebrations include the internationally known art competition, the boat parades and fireworks on the last night of festivities.
Things to Do and See:
What to see in Valdivia includes:
Tours of historic forts at Niebla and Corral for authentic restorations, weaponry, museums and re-enactments
Visit traditional Kuntsmann Brewery and Restaurant for authentic
German beer and cuisine enjoyed in a beer garden
Savor fine seafood and the locally made great chocolate
Boat Cruises on the rivers. Take the Isla Huapi cruise, or the all-day voyage on the seven rivers to really get a feel for the
historic significance, natural beauty and wildlife of the region
Feria Fluvial, or riverside market offers food, fish and handcrafts
Excusions by boat and bus to Pucon, Villarica and other notable lake district attractions
Ride the only remaining steam train, El Valdiviano, between Valdivia and Antilhue for a taste of the past
Mauricio Van De Maele Historical Anthropological Museum, also called the
Casa Andwandter, is located in a period house on Isla Teja. It is listed on the National Historic Register and displays household furnishings and items of the Hispanic-Creole settlement from the 19th century plus Mapuche artefacts.
Parque Saval and Laguna de los Lotos are pleasant places to rest and enjoy nature
In addition, the Lake District offers fine fishing, white water rafting, sailing, skiing, trekking and climbing.
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