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Santiago


San Cristobal Hill, Metropolitan Park, Virgin Mary Statue, & Central Market

Fish Market, Plaza de Armas, Metropolitan Cathedral, & 1712 City Map

National Historical Museum, Presidential Palace, & Teatro Municipal

Vina Concha and Toro, Winery, Vineyard, Monograms, & Globus

View of Santiago, Chile from a lookout at the summit of the Metropolitan Park.

View of Santiago from a lookout at the summit of the Metropolitan Park.

Tours

We use the best tour operator to book all kinds of tours to Chile, including independent tours, hosted tours, escorted tours, and packages. Check with us for details or for other information. Please contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

Buenos Aires to Patagonia to Santiago

We were on a Monograms hosted tour that started in Buenos Aires, where there were two nights. From Buenos Aires we flew to Bariloche where we spent two nights. We flew back to Buenos Aires and spent the night in order to catch an early morning flight to Ushuaia where we spent one night. The next day we boarded the Stella Australis cruise ship where we spent three nights and visited four islands in Chile at the southern tip of South America. We were taken from the ship to Punta Arenas to spend one night. The following day we flew to Santiago where we spent two nights, which is described here, and where the hosted tour ended. Contact Us for more information.

Arrival in Santiago

Host and guide Catalina Gallardo in Santiago, Chile.

Host and guide Catalina Gallardo.

When we arrived at the Santiago airport our host and guide, Catalina Gallargo and a driver, met us. They took us to our hotel and Catalina helped us to get checked in. She also told us about restaurants and things to do in Santiago on our own. Catalina is pictured above.

City Tour of Santiago

We had a half-day morning tour of the city of Santiago with Catalina and a driver. We were first taken to the summit of Metropolitan Park at San Cristobal Hill. The hill is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) above the main part of Santiago. From there you can see views of the city in different directions. One view is shown at the top of this page. The picture is not real clear due to smog. Since Santiago is on the western side of the continent it suffers from the same problem with pollution that cites in the western United States have to deal with. Santiago is not on the Pacific coast, but the ocean is only about two hours away by car.

San Cristobal Hill

Statue of the Virgin Mary in the Metropolitan Park in Santiago, Chile.

Statue of the Virgin Mary in the Metropolitan Park.

San Cristobal Hill is named after the prominent San Cristobal family. In 1903 the city took advantage of the hill and put a scientific observatory on top. It was called the Mills Observatory, but is now known as the Manuel Foster Observatory. This observatory is identical to the University of California Lick Observatory. In 1916 plans were made to make the hill into a park and public recreational area. San Cristobal Hill is now part of Santiago's Metropolitan Park, which is an urban park located within the city. In addition to San Cristobal Hill the park includes Chacarillas Hill, Los Gemelos Hill, and additional areas. The park is large having an area of 1,907 acres (722 hectares).

You can get to the top of San Cristobal Hill by a walk of about 45 minutes. It is also possible to get there by car, or by riding the funicular. The funicular has been there since 1925 and has been declared a National Monument. Its departure point is Barrio Bellavista. The most popular feature on San Cristobal Hill is the statue of the Virgin Mary, which dates from 1908. It is pictured above and has a height of 72 feet (22 meters). The statue is part of a sanctuary which is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

Amphitheater in Metropolitan Park, Santiago, Chile.

Amphitheater in Metropolitan Park.

Below the statue is an amphitheater for holding religious ceremonies. It is shown above. Nearby is a chapel, which is seen in the picture below. Two municipal pools are also found in the park.

Chapel in Metropolitan Park, Santiago, Chile.

Chapel in Metropolitan Park.

In the foothills of the San Cristobal Hill is the Chilean National Zoo. The zoo has many animals with more than 150 species. The funicular stops at the National Zoo. Also within the park is the Jardin Botanical Garden containing plants native to Chile. A Children's Park is in the park as well, which includes an amphitheater, tree houses, and other activities for kids.

Fish Market

Fish market in Santiago, Chile.

Fish market in the Central Market.

In our walk downtown we stopped at the Central Market to see the Fish Market, which is pictured above. There are also a number of fish restaurants there, and this is popular place to eat. It is located close to the Plaza de Armas.

Plaza de Armas

Attractive City walk in Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile.

Attractive City walk in Plaza de Armas.

The Plaza de Armas is the main square in downtown Santiago. We learned about the buildings and area from our host and guide Catalina. It is an attractive area of the city. You see many beautiful trees and buildings, such as pictured in the scene above. The plaza has been an important historical area of the city since 1541, when Santiago was founded. There are a number of historical buildings surrounding the plaza including the National Historical Museum, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the main post office, which was once the Governor's Palace.

National Historical Museum

National Historical Museum in Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile.

National Historical Museum in Plaza de Armas.

The history of Chile from the arrival of the Europeans until the coup that deposed Salvador Allende in 1973 is presented in the National Historical Museum. The museum is pictured above. You can learn about the colonial period, how Chile gained independence, and about modern times into the 20th century. There are many relics to see as well as portraits of many of the important people in the history of Chile. If you are interested in more art the Pre-Colombian Art Museum is located nearby.

1712 City Map

Bronze city map of Santiago, Chile in 1712 shown on the payment in Plaza de Armas.

Bronze city map of Santiago in 1712 shown on the payment in Plaza de Armas.

There is a very interesting and attractive bronze city-map of Santiago as it was in 1712. The map is embedded in the payment and is shown in the picture above. You will find it if you walk out the center door of the Metropolitan Cathedral and walk east away from the cathedral.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Metropolitan Cathedral in Sanitago, Chile.

Metropolitan Cathedral.

The Metropolitan Cathedral is a National Monument, having been declared one in 1951. The present cathedral is the fifth one to be built at this location. The previous cathedrals were destroyed by earthquakes. The present cathedral was also damaged by an earthquake, and repairs to the towers were taking place when the above picture was taken, as can be seen. Earthquakes are not unusual in Chile. In fact, an earthquake occurred while we were in our hotel room; we definitely felt the room shaking, and it can be scary. The present cathedral dates from 1745. The two towers were not added until the end of the 19th century. Within the cathedral there is a museum of sacred art.

Nave of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Santiago, Chile.

Central Nave of the Metropolitan Cathedral.

There are three naves in the Metropolitan Cathedral. The attractive Central Nave is pictured above. It has a very impressive main altar which was built in 1912 in Germany. A tomb near the altar contains the body of Diego Portales, a founding father of Chile. There are dozens of other Chilean notables, including archbishops, buried in the cathedral as well. The Right Nave honors heroes in Chilean history. An urn contains the hearts of the heroes who were slaughtered in the Conception Battle fought during the country's War of the Pacific (1879-83). Chile was fighting against both Peru and Bolivia. The Right Nave also contains the remains of Jose Maria Caro, the first Chilean Cardinal. The Left Nave is the site of the countries first parish, and is a national monument.

Presidential Palace

Presidential palace in Santiago, Chile.

Presidential Palace known as La Moneda.

The Presidential Palace is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile. It is located in the Civic District in downtown Santiago and occupies an entire city block. The building has four inner courtyards with offices and other rooms on the outside surrounding the courtyards. Before it was a palace it was a mint. From its inauguration in 1805 until 1929 coins were minted there. As a result, the palace today is called La Moneda, which means "currency." It did not become a palace and the seat of government until 1845. At that time it also became the presidential residence. However, since 1958 it has not been the presidential residence. The palace also contains the offices of three ministers: Interior, General Secretariat of the Presidency, and General Secretariat of the Government. During a military coup in 1973 the Chilean Air Force bombed the palace joining the Army. President Allende was killed and dictator Augusto Pinochet became president. The damage from the bombing and insurrection was repaired by 1981. Although some bullet marks have been preserved and can be seen today. It is possible to walk around the Presidential Palace.

Teatro Municipal

Classical music including symphonic, opera, and ballet are performed at the Teatro Municipal. World renowned artists from around the world perform here, including Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau. In permanent residence are the Philharmonic Orchestra, Santiago Ballet, and the Municipal Theater Chorus. The Teatro Municipal was built between 1853 and 1857. The main concert hall has seating for 1,500 people. Of particular note are two sculptures in the theater foyer, a grand crystal chandelier, and a curtain made in Germany that weighs an impressive 2,645 pounds (1,200 kilograms).

Vina Concha and Toro Winery

Vineyard of Vina Concha y Toro Winery near Santiago, Chile.

Vineyard of Vina Concha y Toro Winery.

We had an afternoon excursion to the Vina Concha and Toro Winery. This popular winery is located in the southeastern suburb of Pirque not far from Santiago. Since wines from this winery are available in the United States we were familiar with this winery. The tour guide takes you on a walk through the gardens and park. You learn where Concha and Toro wines come from. The Grape Variety Garden has 26 varieties of wine grapes. We were able to taste quite a few of the different grapes picking them off the grapevines. A picture of one variety of grapes is seen in the above picture.

Wine tasting at the Vina Concha y Toro Winery near Santiago, Chile.

Wine tasting at the Vina Concha y Toro Winery.

After walking through the Old Pirque vineyard we were ready for wine tasting. Our first tasting was white wine, as seen in the above picture. We then went inside to learn more about wine making and to visit the wine cellars. We saw two very large rooms filled with wine-filled barrels as seen in the picture below. There were very many barrels of wine in storage. We also learned about the wine legend of the centenarian Casillero del Diablo. This was followed by a tasting of red wine. It was a delightful and interesting afternoon.

Wine cellar at the Vina Concha y Toro Winery near Santiago, Chile.

Wine cellar at the Vina Concha and Toro Winery.

Departure from Santiago

After we finished the wine tour Catalina and a driver took us to the Santiago airport to catch our flights home. Catalina helped us to get checked in. Our tour of South America had come to an end. We had had a great time. In reflection the Monograms hosted tour had been wonderful. It was very nice having a host in each place that we visited to provide transfers, provide city and park tours, tell us where it was best to eat, and to offer us advice on what we could do on our own. A hosted tour is a great option for many destinations.

Buenos Aires to Patagonia to Santiago

We were on a Monograms hosted tour that started in Buenos Aires, where there were two nights. From Buenos Aires we flew to Bariloche where we spent two nights. We flew back to Buenos Aires and spent the night in order to catch an early morning flight to Ushuaia where we spent one night. The next day we boarded the Stella Australis cruise ship where we spent three nights and visited four islands in Chile at the southern tip of South America. We were taken from the ship to Punta Arenas to spend one night. The following day we flew to Santiago where we spent two nights, which is described here, and where the hosted tour ended. Contact Us for more information.

 

Photos by Sunny Breeding. We sell prints and images.