Santiago – Chile’s capital and largest city – a study in contrast.
History awaits you.
The city’s grand heart – the old colonial core – a kaleidoscope of winding cobblestone side streets, magnificent 19th-century neoclassical, Art Deco, neo-gothic, architecture, instil a sense of awe and excitement as you explore, savour, enjoy, this 481 year-old metropolis.
And then there is the modern Santiago.
Major skyscrapers dominate the landscape, spacious tree-lined avenues, filled with outstanding restaurants and elegant shopping venues.
Santiago, home to 5.61 million people, sits in a valley, surrounded by the snow-capped Andes mountain range.
So let’s explore and join me for some fascinating places in Santiago.
Plaza de Armas
Shaded by palm trees this is a great spot to explore the monumental, striking, Cathedral of Santiago, facing the plaza.
Construction of this masterpiece started in 1753, ending in 1799. It’s current facade – in the Baroque style – was built at the end of the 19th. Century.
The inside – a treasure trove of magnificent works of art and architecture
The Mercado Central de Santiago
Imposing, monumental – it covers a whole city block – it’s been open since 1874.
The market is typical of many markets found throughout Latin America and Asia.
Unlike North American markets these markets have a sense of drama and theatre about them.
Santiago’s market is a co-op with each of the hundreds of vendors having a stake in it.
National Geographic has named it one of the top markets in the world.
The scope and variety here is out of this world – endless amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, handicrafts and household items are available. As well there are numerous restaurants, delis, bakeries, ready to serve you.
If you love fresh fish – outside the market there are countless restaurants offering amazing fish dishes, huge portions, at really low prices.
Cerro Santa Lucia
And smack dab in the centre of Santiago – atop a small hill – is Cerro Santa Lucia, one of city’s most famous green spaces.
Start at the bottom, climb the magnificent staircase to see crumbling old ruins, chapels, fountains with beautifully carved statutes, eventually landing at the top of the hill, a beautiful vista of Santiago before you.
La Moneda Palace
A UNESCO world heritage site – La Moneda Palace – occupies an entire city block in downtown Santiago.
And like Buckingham Palace this is the place to see the changing of the guard – a great little spectacle.
Welcome to the gleaming walls of La Moneda Palace – are you ready to step foot inside a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site? For a truly authentic Chilean experience, capturing the iconic Changing of the Guard, alongside the gigantic swaying Chilean flag and immaculate grass lawn is an absolute must.
Presidential by name, this impressive building is also pretty presidential by nature, as it occupies an entire city block in downtown Santiago. Get there for 10am sharp to witness the full changeover, from the coolest mounted guards to the sounds of the brass marching band.