A Perfect Day in Santiago

Take the pulse of Chile’s vibrant capital, Santiago, in a day. Rise and shine near the Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s civic heart, with a “coffee with legs”. Visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. Have lunch in the capital’s oldest restaurant. And sip frothy pisco sours with a view from Cerro San Cristobal at sundown over the Andes.

S/N Moneda
The ornate, neoclassical government palace, headquarters for the President’s offices, was originally constructed in the late 18th century as the country’s mint. During the 1973 military coup, La Moneda was nearly destroyed. The ceremonious changing of the guard is held every odd-numbered day and always draws a large audience. Moneda, between Morandé and Teatinos (Metro La Moneda)
501 Avenida Matucana
There’s something within these walls—perhaps simply the silence—that helps visitors imagine the real-world horrors that once took place in Chile. A visit to Santiago’s Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos is a trip through the darkest hours of Chilean history, those surrounding the military dictatorship that ran from 1973 to 1990 which left behind thousands of victims and unsolved “disappearances.” The museum is a modern, almost 54,000-square-foot (5000-square-meter) facility that recounts the sickening history, soberly, in the form of survivor testimonies as well as in displays of victims’ correspondence and personal items. There are also radio reports, press clippings, drawings and literature, alongside other artifacts of a past from which often only fragments remain. A prominent mural shows the faces of those no longer with us. On the third-floor, screening booths play related documentaries. The museum is a must for anyone looking to understand today’s Chile.
445 Calle Pio Nono
Floating over 2,500 feet above Santiago is the gleaming white statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción atop Cerro San Cristóbal, St. Christopher’s Hill—the highest point in the capital that is not the Andes. One of the most fun, and easiest, ways to get to the top is via the old funicular train, constructed in 1925. As it steeply ascends the hill, the city and its valley spreads out below with sweeping views. Cerro San Cristóbal, Bellavista, Santiago Phone: 56 (2) 2730-1300 Park daily 8:30 am--9 pm. Funicular Mon. 1--8, Tues.--Sun. 10--8
Las Condes, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
Pueblito Los Dominicos, an artisan village in eastern Santiago, is named after the church bearing the same name. This quaint center offers many quality handicrafts, from leather goods to lapis jewelry, Mapuche silver, and textiles. The setting is picturesque and if the hunger overcomes you, there are tasty empanadas de pino (beef empanadas) to hold you until dinner. Apoquindo 9085, Las Condes (Metro Los Dominicos)
Providencia, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
This beautiful fountain in Santiago is nestled in a long park in Providencia that follows the Mapocho River with views of towering San Cristóbal hill. It touts a sophisticated timing system to create a series of elegant arcs with water. At night, the fountain is lit up in a rainbow of colors. Local lovebirds always are sitting on the benches to admire its beauty, and catch a kiss or two. Avenida Providencia between Puente Arzobispo and Huelén
Región Metropolitana CL - Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Founded in 1879, Confitería Torres is Santiago‘s oldest restaurant still functioning, and a popular lunch destination. Housed in the Palacio Íñiguez on the stately Alameda avenue, the restaurant was saved from closing nearly a decade ago and completely restored to its former glory, with green-and-white hand-painted tile floors, lace curtains, and elegant waiters. It’s located near the government palace, and frequented by many politicians and presidents; former president Barros Lucos always ordered a steak and cheese sandwich here (the sandwich was christened with his name). The menu sticks to traditional Chilean cuisine and the bartender whips up some delicious pisco sours. Crowded at lunch time so reservations a good idea. Alameda 1570, Santiago Centro Phone: 56 (2) 2688 0751
Costanera Sur Poniente
The newly opened Parque Fluvial Renato Poblete was once a garbage dump and squatters’ before the nearly 50 acres were taken by the government and transformed into this handsome park. Dividid into two areas, “El Cauce” (The Channel) is 17-acre flood plain with three water mirrors. The second, known as “Brazo del río” (River’s Arm), covers 32 acres and boasts a lagoon formed by the Río Mapocho, now a place for water sports. Like in most Chilean parks there are soccer fields and a cycling path that belongs to part of a circuit covering over 20-miles and multiple neighborhoods. On the weekends, Santiago families congregate here under the sun for a pinic. Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Avenida Presidente Balmaceda 2800, near Costanera Sur, Quinta Normal
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