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Travel Tales of Argentina
Santiago, the capital of Chile, has a varied and enormous tourist offer, with attractions for all ages and tastes. Numerous cinemas and theaters offer a wide range of possibilities. Likewise, a large number of museums offer visitors from archeology to nature visits, to plastic arts andthe history. In addition there are numerous squares and parks, some of them of great beauty. The city also offers entertainment and rides for children.
About a hundred buildings have been declared National Monuments, including public and private buildings, churches and cathedrals, industrial and commercial establishments, railway and military installations and even some remains of constructions that no longer exist.
The Palacio de la Moneda is the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic of Chile and also houses the offices of the Ministry of the Interior, the General Secretariat of the Presidency, the General Secretariat of the Government and the Ministry of Social Development.
The design of the majestic palace was made in the Italian Neoclassical style, by the Italian architect Joaquín Toesca, who placed special emphasis on the quality and beauty of the construction. As a result,many thought that the building exceeded the purposes for which it was intended, the minting of coins.
The Plaza de Armas is a good starting spot to explore the history of colonial Santiago. On its northwest side is the architectural complex of the Cathedral, with the Chapel of the Sagrario and the Archbishop’s Palace. The north side features three important buildings that housed the main dependencies of the colonial government. Today, in its place travelers can find the Central Post Office, the National Historical Museum and the Municipality of Santiago.
The Cathedral of Santiago, also called the Metropolitan Cathedral, is the main Catholic Church of the Chilean capital, it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and is located on one of the sides of the Plaza de Armas, in the same place chosen by the conqueror Don Pedro de Valdivia, when he founded the city in 1541.
The construction of the current Cathedral began after the great earthquake that struck Santiago in 1730, since the original buildings were constantly destroyed by battles with the natives and by natural disasters. The design of its neoclassical façade was made by the Italian Joaquín Toesca, who also designed the Palacio de la Moneda.
The building known as the Former National Congress is a true architectural marvel and one of the most beautiful buildings in Santiago. It was the seat of the National Congress from its inauguration in 1876, until the coup of September 11, 1973, when Parliament ceased to function. With the restoration of democracy, Congress moved to its new headquarters in Valparaíso, although the building has now returned to the hands of Congress and houses the offices of the Deputies and Senators.
With a history dating back to colonial times, the Church of San Francisco is the oldest existing architectural monument in Chile.
The land where the church is located was destined by the Cabildo in 1541 for the construction of a hermitage that would house the image of the Virgen del Socorro that arrived in Chile in the hands of the conqueror Pedro de Valdivia. Although the hermitage was originally in the hands of the Order of Mercy, it switched to the hands of the Franciscans in 1544,who began the construction of the first temple in 1575.
The current Church of Santo Domingo was built between 1771 and 1796, the work of the architects Juan de los Santos Vasconcellos and Joaquín Toesca, who was assigned with the last phase of the construction.
The place where the Church and the Convent can be found today has been owned by the Dominicans since 1557. The Dominican order was one of the first religious orders that arrived in Chile in the 16th century, but the three buildings that were originally raised were destroyed by the successive earthquakes that have affected Santiago throughout its history.
Although the current construction of the Basilica de la Merced dates from 1760, the origins of the first church of La Merced date back to 1566. The place to build La Merced was a donation received by the Mercedarians from Juan Fernández de Alderete, a member of the founding expedition of Chile.
Because Santiago was devastated by two major earthquakes in 1647 and 1730, the church had to be rebuilt on both occasions, so the current Basilica de la Merced is the third construction that rises on the same site. It was also designed by the Italian Joaquín Toesca.
The majestic building that today is the headquarters of the National Library of Chile, located in the historic center of Santiago, was built especially for this purpose between 1913 and 1925. It is an elegant neoclassical style building, with wide stairways, large columns and marble floors, facing Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins also known as Alameda.
The Municipal Theater of Santiago is the largest theater in the city and the oldest cultural center in the entire country. It is also the main stage for the representation of opera, theater and ballet pieces, as symphonic and chamber concerts.
The neoclassical style was designed by the French architect Claudio Francisco Brunet del Baines. The theater was inaugurated on September 17, 1857, with the staging of Verdi’s opera “Ernani”, performed by an Italian company.
Founded on July 8th, 1864, the Club de la Union de Santiago was created by a group of aristocrats as a space for political and social meetings. Following the philosophy of English clubs, it was reserved exclusively for male members from the beginning, a tradition that lasted until 2006 when the first woman was accepted as a member.
Calle Compañía, in the heart of Santiago, hides what pretends to be a small replica of the fabulous Alhambra Palace in Granada (Spain), a Moorish-style building constructed by the wealthy miner Francisco Ossa Mercado in 1860 and inspired by the Nasrid palace from the 13th century.
The project manager was the Chilean architect Manuel Aldunate, who traveled to Spain to learn about the Islamic architecture of the original Alhambra Palace and the Alcázar of Seville. On his return he brought with him not only notes and drawings, but also craftsmen specialized in plasterwork.
If what you want is to get to know one of the most traditional buildings in the city of Santiago, where you can also get in touch with the true character of Santiago and learn about its main culinary traditions, a visit to the Central Market is the right thing to do. It is a true museum of natural flavor and not only for the fresh products found there but also for the gastronomy which is offered by the restaurants located inside.
Although in general, the people of Santiago know the place by as Plaza Italia, the current name of this central and, above all, symbolic square is Plaza Baquedano, a name that was given in 1927 after the remodeling and placement of the monument of General Manuel Baquedano, hero of the war of the Pacific.
Apparently, the square was called Plaza Colón until 1910, when on the occasion of celebrating the centenary of Chilean independence, the government of Italy gave the country a statue of a winged archangel with a lion that was installed in the center of the square. From that moment, Placa Italia was borned for Chileans.
It is a temple for worshiping the Bahá’í Faith. It is located in the Peñalolén commune, in Santiago de Chile. The Bahá’í House of Worship of South America joins the other 8 temples of the Bahá’í Faith that exist around the world located in Samoa, Uganda, Germany, India, Australia and the United States. This temple is a meeting point that promotes unity through free participation in acts of prayer and service.
The Bahá’í Faith is one of the youngest independent religions in the world. It emerged in the mid-19th century in Iran, and its followers believe in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, its prophet and founder.
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