Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a captivating city. Nestled in the heart of a valley with the River Mapocho flowing nearby, its landscape is diverse. The initial impression of this intriguing city includes solitary hills, patches of greenery, neoclassical buildings, and narrow, winding alleys. Both the Andes mountain range and the Pacific Ocean are visible from Santiago.
As a modern metropolis, Santiago boasts a well-developed transportation system, numerous shopping centers, restaurants, theaters, and other entertainment venues, ensuring visitors have plenty of options for enjoyment.
In addition to its contemporary amenities, Santiago’s allure lies in its ability to preserve its rich history. Within the city limits, there are 93 heritage sites, including architectural structures, archaeological artifacts, and historical monuments.
Best Santiago Attractions
1. La Moneda Palace
Constructed in the neoclassical style with a distinct Roman Doric influence, La Moneda Palace is unique among Latin American countries for its purely Italian neoclassical structure. The rectangular palace features three patios: an entrance hall, a covered area, and a patio reserved for official ceremonies. Several statues decorate the square in front of the palace.
La Moneda Palace serves as the residence of the Chilean President and the seat of the Government of Chile. Visitors should not miss the traditional Changing of the Guards ceremony, which takes place here every two days.
2. San Cristobal Hill
Situated in the northern part of Santiago, San Cristobal Hill rises about 300 meters above the city. It takes approximately an hour to reach the top on foot. Alternatively, visitors can access the hill via a quick and inexpensive funicular railway.
An impressive 22-meter-high statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands atop the hill, in a sanctuary that also includes a small chapel and an amphitheater for religious ceremonies. The statue is an iconic city landmark, particularly stunning at night when illuminated. At the foot of the hill, visitors will find the National Zoo, a beautifully landscaped Japanese Garden, two public swimming pools, and Santiago Metropolitan Park, the city’s largest green space.
San Cristobal Hill is a popular family destination, offering numerous attractions and a breathtaking view of the city from its peak.
3. Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
Located in the city center, this museum boasts a remarkable collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and artwork from various parts of Central and South America, some dating back 10,000 years.
Exquisite pottery pieces from different regions and cultures of the pre-Columbian period are the museum’s main attraction. Also notable are the uniquely shaped wooden spatulas, ceramics, and gold and silver artifacts on display.
A separate textile gallery showcases an incredible range of textiles collected from Andean countries. A visit to this museum is both engaging and informative, providing insight into the diverse cultures that once thrived in Chile and neighboring Latin American countries.
4. Parque Forestal
Parque Forestal was created on land reclaimed from the River Mapocho, which runs through Santiago. Located in the city’s downtown area, it offers a vast parkland along the riverbank.
A pleasant stroll through Parque Forestal reveals rows of trees and numerous statues, making it an enjoyable experience for those exploring Santiago’s historic downtown area.
5. Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts
The National Museum of Fine Arts houses an impressive collection of art from Chile and neighboring South American countries.
The grand museum building, known as the Palace of Fine Arts, was constructed in 1910 as part of the city’s centenary celebrations. Its stunning neoclassical design is inspired by Baroque architecture.
The solid glass cupola above the central hall, designed and crafted in Belgium, is particularly eye-catching. The central doorway is also surrounded by glass, creating a mystical illusion as sunlight strikes the marble statues, making them appear ethereal. The museum building’s beauty must be seen to be believed.
6. Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago
Located in Santiago’s historic center, the Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Santiago de Chile and the center of the archdiocese. Its central position makes it the reference point for measuring distances to other locations in Santiago.
Built-in the neoclassical style, the stone cathedral boasts an impressive exterior. Inside, the grand and richly decorated altar adds to the cathedral’s overall splendor. A small museum of religious exhibits is situated adjacent to the church.
7. Araucano Park
Araucano Park is a large recreational space featuring a biking area, skating area, badminton and tennis courts, a gymnasium, and a playground with swings. The park also includes rose gardens and an aviary, adding to its universal appeal. Araucano Park frequently hosts various events throughout the city.
8. Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas is the main square in Santiago and serves as the city’s hub for various attractions. Surrounded by historic churches and government buildings, the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral dominates the western part of the plaza.
The square offers excellent shopping malls and numerous restaurants, making it a favorite spot for both locals and visitors. Plaza de Armas should be explored during the day and at night when it is illuminated and buzzing with activity.
9. Santa Lucia Hill
Located in the heart of the city, this small hill rises about 69 meters above the surrounding area. Santa Lucia Hill is the remnant of a volcano that existed millions of years ago. In the 19th century, the rocky hill was transformed into a beautifully designed park featuring intricate facades, stone stairways, gardens, and fountains.
A fascinating walk through a maze of trails and stone steps, passing terraces and churches along the way, leads to the Torre Mirador at the top. From here, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the entire city and the Andes Mountains in the distance.
For those who prefer not to navigate the network of trails, an elevator provides convenient access to Torre Mirador. Interestingly, a cannon shot is fired into the air from this location every day at noon.
10. Museum of Memory and Human Rights
Inaugurated by the President of Chile on January 11th, 2010, as part of Santiago’s bicentennial celebrations, this museum is dedicated to the victims of human rights violations during the Pinochet dictatorship. It displays memorabilia and torture devices used on innocent victims.
A poem by the well-known Chilean folk singer Victor Jara, “Estadio Chile,” spans the museum’s main entrance. Jara wrote this poignant poem just hours before his death during the 1973 military uprising.
A tour of the museum reveals newspaper clippings, letters written by prisoners, and survivor testimonies, depicting the inhumane treatment endured by hundreds of innocent victims. The museum contains 11 rooms, each focusing on topics such as the 1973 military coup, torture, the fight for freedom, and more. The first room bears the gripping title, “Human Rights, Universal Challenge,” while the final two rooms are aptly named “Return to Hope” and “Never Again.”
Dedicated to preserving human rights, the museum hosts events and exhibitions highlighting the injustices of tyranny and violations of basic human rights. A visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights is an eye-opening experience that underscores the suffering and inhuman treatment experienced by innocent victims during oppressive regimes.
No visitor to Santiago should leave without seeing this significant museum, as a trip to the city is incomplete without a visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
People also ask about Santiago, Chile
What is the primary architectural style of La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Chile?
The primary architectural style of La Moneda Palace is neo-classical with a pronounced Roman Doric pattern, making it a unique example of an Italian neo-classical structure in Latin America.
What are some of the attractions that can be found on and around San Cristobal Hill?
San Cristobal Hill is home to an impressive 22-meter-high statue of the Blessed Saint Mary, a small chapel, an amphitheater for religious ceremonies, the National Zoo, a Japanese Garden, public swimming pools, and the Santiago Metropolitan Park.
What types of exhibits can be found in the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino?
The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino houses a collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and works of art from Central and South America, including pottery, wooden spatulas, ceramics, gold and silver artifacts, and a range of textiles from countries around the Andes.
What is the significance of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago in the city?
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago is the seat of the archbishop of Santiago de Chile and the center of the archdiocese. Located in the historic center of the capital, it serves as a starting point from which distances to all places around Santiago are measured.
What can visitors expect to see and learn at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago?
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights is a memorial museum dedicated to the victims of human rights violations during the Pinochet dictatorship. Visitors can view exhibits such as newspaper snippets, letters written by prisoners, survivor accounts, and memorabilia of devices used for torture. The museum contains 11 rooms, each focusing on a specific topic related to the dictatorship and the fight for human rights.