Chile is the longest country in South America, thus, it boasts varied and amazing landscapes all over the Pacific Coast and the Andes Mountain Range. But historical places in Chile can be found almost everywhere, and they are as stunning as Chilean natural highlights.
However, the question you should ask is not where to find these historical places but which of them are the must-see destinations you need to read about before your next trip to Chile.
From the Atacama Desert to the Southern Fjords
Chile features the driest place on Earth and also the most secluded, Patagonia. In the middle, if you travel from north to south you’ll pass by the central region, where Santiago de Chile, the capital of the country, is located, and the Chilean lake district.
Let’s imagine that you’re about to start a road trip from north to south, which are the historic places to stop by? This is your travel itinerary.
This charming village was declared National Monument. Here you can visit its typical XVII Century stone church, wander between the adobe houses and learn about the native weavers and their millenary art.
Where? In Parque Nacional Lauca, Arica, north of Chile.
The Missionary Route
This route will take you to travel along 40 kilometres from the village of Socorama to Esquiña and discover 30 Colonial churches. You’ll be usually accompanied by a local native that will share with you the chinchorro culture, a group of fishermen that inhabited the Atacama coasts in 1500 B.C.
Where? Arica, north of Chile.
Valparaíso: The Historical Neighbourhood
The Valparaiso historical neighbourhood, built around the XVI century, is still a successful example of Victorian architecture adapted to hostile territory. This is a true labyrinth of multi-coloured houses perched on the hill and overlooking the Pacific. To climb from the port of Valparaíso, one of the most important of Chile, you can take cable cars! In 2003, this historical place in Valparaíso was declared Human Heritage by UNESCO.
Where? Valparaíso, central Chile.
Santiago de Chile
Plaza de Armas
Located at the historical centre of Santiago, the capital of Chile, from this square you can see the Cathedral and the National History Museum and the imponent Post Office Building, all of them were built between the XVIII and the XIX century. The Plaza de Armas was founded in 1541, first as a military training hub (Plaza de Armas can be translated as “Armament Square”) but quickly it became the administrative centre of Santiago. Near the Plaza de Armas you can visit the Palacio de la Moneda, the Government house.
Where? Santiago de Chile, central Chile
Isla Negra -Pablo Neruda’s House & Museum
Follow the steps of the most important poet of Chile, Pablo Neruda, and visit the village that stole his heart forever. Visit the house that the Litterature Nobel Price built overlooking the ocean and learn about his history, obsessions and peculiar objects that built the imaginary world of the writer. The sea is a corner subject on Neruda’s literature and can be found all over his house on the figureheads, replica boats in bottles and sperm whale teeth that the poet treasured in life.
Where? El Quisco, central Chile.
Cueva del Milodón
The milodón was a type of giant ground slot, and in this group of 3 caves located in Chilean Patagonia, you can visit mylodon fossils dating from 10.000 ago. At the entrance of the Cueva Grande where you can follow an interpretation path, meet a real-size statue of the mylodon, and a rocky formation called by locals the Silla del Diablo (Evil’s Chair). The legends say (depending on the version) that the giant ground slot or the devil used to sit in this chair. The Cueva del Milodón is an obliged stop on the Ruta del Fin del Mundo, which features different natural monuments of the Magellan and Antarctic region.
Where? Puerto Natales, south of Chile
Historical places in Chile’s most famous island
The famous Rapa Nui Island, known as Eastern Island, it’s located 3600 kilometres away from Chile. However, if you are really into exploring the historical places of Chile this is a destination worthy of appearing on your travel bucket list.
The Ceremonial Village of Orongo features 53 houses made of flat rock. In this archaeological site, you will find petroglyphs, rock carvings, usually from the prehistoric era, and a powerful cultural symbol. Orongo was built on the summit of the Rano Kau volcano, and inside the houses, you can see rocky paintings that represent the god Tanga Naku which means in the native language “bird-man”.
Where? South of Easter Island
People travel to Ranu Raraku to meet the mythical Moais, the big stone heads that represent the most important archaeological treasure of Eastern Island. In Ranu Raraku there are 400 of the 1000 Moais that can be found on the island, the only ones that are still straight, the others have been tumbled at the time of the wars between clans. Fun fact: The moais aren’t big head statues, the heads are only the visible side of much larger figures that have been buried by successive sediment layers. And the head is only a third part of the statue!
Where? Northeast of Eastern Island