El Centro: Santiago's Historic Heart
Non-stop action. That is Santiago's downtown, commonly called "El Centro" by the locals. Here you'll find charming fountains, sculptures, street-theater charlatans, and pedestrian walkways. It's in El Centro, the historic heart of Santiago, where Santiago evolved from a sleepy colonial town into Latin America’s most prosperous and modern capital.

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Santiago's Political and Social Hub

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Founded in 1540, Santiago's palm-shaded "Plaza de Armas" remains the city's social hub. Any time of the day, any day of the week there's always something happening there. Surrounded by the neoclassical facades of the city's most important buildings like the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Municipality of Santiago and the old post office, the plaza is bisected by two pedestrian malls, Ahumada & Estado. During the work week, there's a distinct, brisk bustle in the rhythm. Many of Santiago's museums and important sites like the Stock Exchange or La Moneda are a few blocks away.

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by Liz Caskey
AFAR Local Expert
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