Santiago is a huge city with over six million inhabitants. The long straight drive down the central artery, Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins, to where I was staying in Providencia, seemed to go on forever. On the way through the Centro Historico my taxi passed squads of armoured riot police and paintbomb-spattered water canon refilling from fire hydrants in preparation for the next round of student protests.
Although Providencia is very safe and modern (which is why my employer puts us there), it’s also pretty sterile and soulless, so whenever I could I jumped on the downtown train for some culture. For the Centro Historico, get off the train at Plaza des Armas; the buzzing central square with lots going on.
There are a few fountains and statues in the square. I particularly like the old Monumento a la Libertad Americana fountain with it’s water-spouting monitor lizards.
On one side of the square is the Cathedrale Metropolitaine de Santiago de Chile which I find to be quite a dark and ugly building as cathedrals go, but then I’m generally not a fan of baroque architecture.
Just around the corner is the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Calle Bandera 361). I took so many pictures here that I had to dedicate a whole post to it (see slideshow in the next post).
A lot of people get their photo taken in front of the Palacio de La Moneda, the presidential palace. It was formerly the colonial mint hence the name “La Moneda” or “the coin.”
As you’d expect, there are plenty of banks nearby.
Somewhere exciting for architecture buffs is the tiny Barrio Paris-Londres. The fin-de-siecle mansions on its two streets have renaissance, neo-Classical, baroque and colonial influences. Technically the neighbourhood is just outside the Centro Historico but I had nowhere else to put these pics and it’s just on the other side of Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins.
You’ll find all these places on my map.
No doubt I’ll be adding to this post in the future, but after all that walking, it’s time for some food. Please see my Eating in the Downtown post by clicking on the Santiago link below.