Santiago de Chile: A Fusion Between History and Modernity

Santiago de Chile: A Fusion Between History and Modernity | The Enterprise World


Situated in the heart of Chile, where the sun peers through the peaks of the Andes, and whispers secrets to the wind, is a city that pulses with life, history, and dreams. The capital and largest city of Chile – Santiago.

Founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, the city has served as the capital city of Chile since colonial times. It is located in the center of the Santiago basin, an enormous bowl-shaped valley that consists of a broad and fertile plain surrounded by mountains.

Climate and Best Time to Travel

The best time to visit Santiago is between March to May and between September to November.

Spring falls between September to November making the climate pleasant. The mountain range of the Andes is at its greenest in this season and the beautiful jacarandas blooms across the city. 

March to May witnesses the Fall season making it another ideal time to visit Santiago. Foliage blankets the city in its lap by April and wine season and its events commence at the start of Fall.

December to February marks the summertime and the days are sunny and dry. Even though the tourism is high, the streets are quiet and you get to enjoy the outdoor activities.

June to August marks the winter season. If you want to enjoy snow and winter activities, then this is the time for you to plan your vacation.

Exploring the Rich History 

Santiago de Chile: A Fusion Between History and Modernity | The Enterprise World

The city of Santiago was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia. It was named Santiago del Nuevo Extremo (Santiago of New Extremadura), in honor of a patron of Spain Apostle James, near Huelén, which he renamed Santa Lucía. 

The early years of its establishment were marked with hardship and conflicts, as Spanish settlers clashed with tribes. Despite the war, the city started taking shape and in the coming years, it grew and evolved as immigrants started settling in the city. 

Today, the city is marked as cosmopolitan and adheres to the beauty of modern society with a rich history not only in books but also in its streets and architecture.

If you want to know about more Latin American history, you should visit these historic places.

1. Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

Founded by Chilean architect and antiquities collector Sergio Larraín García-Moreno, this museum is dedicated to the study and display of pre-Columbian artworks and artifacts from Central and South America. It was first opened in December 1981.

2. Cerro Santa Lucía

Located 629 meters above sea level, it is an urban park that is closely related to the city. It is this site from where Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago. You can absorb the nature and learn more about the city’s history here.

3. Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral

It was built during the second half of the 18th century and is known for its beautiful neo-classical architecture. In the 19th century, more embellishments were added to the building, making it one of the most beautiful buildings in Santiago. 

4. La Moneda Palace

It is a presidential office of Chile with amazing architectural design. It was created by an Italian architect in the 18th century. It was subjected to a missile attack and was reconstructed. You can take a tour of the palace or attend a show at its cultural center.

5. Centro Artesanal Pueblito Los Dominicos

It is a historical site located at the foothills of the Andean mountains where the small village was found. Some of the best artisans of Chile live in this village. You can witness how they craft articles from wood, leather, baked mugs, and other materials.

6. Plaza de la Constitucion

It was built in 1935 on the grounds of the former Ministry of War. It is surrounded by many important buildings like the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, and Banco Central de Chile among others. You will always find locals taking casual walks here. 

7. Cementerio General De Santiago

The general cemetery or Cementerio General De Santiago is the resting place of some of the most notable personalities of Chile. It has several sculptures that imitate melancholic emotions. 

Diving Into Their Culture

Santiago de Chile: A Fusion Between History and Modernity | The Enterprise World

The city of Santiago de Chile has a rich culture and heritage. Its history is deeply intertwined with indigenous tribes, mostly the Mapuche and Aymara. The majority of the population follows the religion of Roman Catholicism followed by Christianity. While the official language of Chile is Spanish, in Santiago people speak Chilean Spanish, slightly different from the normal Spanish and sometimes English as well.

Being a cosmopolitan city, you will find diverse cultures on every street and corner. Here are some ways to enjoy Santiago’s culture to the fullest.

  • The Museum of Fine Arts – It is located in the forest park of Forest Inn and showcases over thousands of artistic heritage. It has a lot of national paintings and Chilean sculptures. If you enjoy immersing in art, this is the perfect spot for you.
  • Santiago Baháʼí Temple – It is a Baháʼí house of worship that was designed by Canadian architect Siamak Hariri and was opened in 2016. The temple is open to all regardless of their religion and is an architectural brilliance. It is circular in shape and composed of nine arched “sails” made from marble and cast glass.
  • Plaza de Armas – It is the city’s center square where you can see cultural performances like street dance, comedy, music, and cultural events. You can also enjoy the European architecture of the city Hall, Correo Central as these are the overlook of the plaza.
  • Wine Tours and Tasting – Fan of wine? Then this is definitely for you as wines produced in Chile are some of the most regarded wines around the globe. Santiago is surrounded by renowned wineries so you can take a trip to know about the history or for a delicious wine tasting. 
  • Cultural festivals – Cultural festivals are held throughout the year in Santiago. One of the most famous ones is Fiestas Patrias which is held in September of every year. It is a week-long celebration that celebrates Chile’s independence. Other festivals are Semana Santa, La Tirana, and many other musical and religious festivals. 
  • Street art – The walls of Santiago’s street aren’t plain. They are rich with colorful and vibrant street art that isn’t just beautiful but also depicts their history and story. 

Other than these, you can always explore their local shops, experience the nightlife, and go on neighborhood walks that aren’t far away and provide you with calm and beautiful views.

Savor the Chilean Cuisine in Santiago

Chilean Cuisine includes a mix of traditional Spanish cuisine, Chilean Mapuche culture, and local ingredients. Chilean cuisine is mostly known for its variety of flavors and ingredients because agriculture is its main economy. 

Here are some of the dishes you can try when in Santiago –

  • Pastel de choclo – It is the city’s most iconic dish and is made from a variant of corn called choclo. It’s made in a clay pot and served as a side with salads. 
  • Empanadas – These are a famous street food/snack of Santiago and come in many varieties – savory, sweet, with all non-vegetarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. 
  • Machas a la Parmesana – Served as an appetizer, it is a dish made of razor clams topped with parmesan cheese quickly broiled together in the oven.
  • Alfajores – It is the favorite sweet dish of the Santiago people. Made with two light crispy biscuits which are stuffed with a type of caramel and coated with dark chocolate or coconut powder. 
  • Mote con Huesillo – It is a drink made from the dry peach that is put back in its juice and mixed with water, caramelized sugar with a hint of cinnamon.

Activities To Partake In

Santiago de Chile: A Fusion Between History and Modernity | The Enterprise World

While there are so many places for sightseeing to divulge in Santiago’s diverse history and culture, do not forget to free your adventurer side and participate in activities that are mentioned below.

1. Hike in the Andes

The mountain range of Andes is known to be the longest continental mountain range in the world. It is in the east of Santiago and is partially visible from the city. You can go on a hike in the Andes and explore its beauty.

2. Take a Walking Tour

The walkability of Santiago is quite impressive so you can take a free walking tour around the city and explore its cafes, local shops, and food stands.

3. Skiing and Snowboarding

If you’re visiting in winter, don’t forget to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Some of the best ski resorts in Chile are within the reach of the city including El Colorado/Farellones, La Parva, and Valle Nevado.

4. Visit Gran Torre Santiago

Gran Torre Santiago is 300 meters high and offers a 360-degree view of the city. Located in the heart of Santiago, it is the symbol of the city’s modernity and progress. 

5. Relax at Cajón del Maipo

Located in Rio Maipo, Cajón del Maipo is a massive gorge 15 miles away from southeast of Santiago. You can come here to relax, hike, camp, and do numerous activities.

Find Your Perfect Place To Relax

Confused as to where to stay in the cosmopolitan city of Santago? Here are a few recommendations.

  • The Singular Santiago, Lastarria 
  • Hotel Cumbres Lastarria
  • Plaza El Bosque Ebro, Lastarria
  • Hotel Boutique Castillo Rojo, Bellavista
  • Hotel Loreto, Bellavista
  • Hotel Gran Palace,Centro
  • Novapark, Centro
  • Hotel Diego de Almagro Santiago, Centro
  • Ladera Boutique Hotel, Pedro de Valdivia Norte
  • Hotel Los Españoles Plus, Pedro de Valdivia Norte

Tips For Travelers

  • Adjusting in Santiago may take some time as they mostly speak Chilean Spanish. You may find very less people who speak English. Having a basic knowledge of Spanish may come in handy.
  • The evening can be cool, even in summer, so pack basic winter essentials with you.
  • Santiago people eat their dinner late, as late as 10 PM, so make sure to have snacks in the evening time. 
  • The currency used is the Chilean Pesos. Make sure to carry some cash to pay in local shops and cafes.

An Ideal Vacation Spot

Surrounded by the majestic mountains and beautiful Pacific Ocean, the city of Santiago has a lot to offer and can be your next destination for a perfect vacation. Leave the stress behind and explore the rich culture and history of Santiago city and have fun while doing so.

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