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El Centro: Santiago's Historic Heart

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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, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile
The Plaza in downtown Santiago, or El Centro, offers striking juxtapositions of old and new. Neoclassical facades appear in the rectilinear glass towers of late 20th century skyscrapers. Children play in the fountain and men of all ages play chess...
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Santiago, La Pintana, Región Metropolitana, Chile
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...
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Huérfanos 769, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
"Café con piernas", or coffee with legs is an institution in downtown Santiago. Founded originally as Italian-style espresso bars decades ago, bar maidens serve steaming cups of frothy "cortados," pumped out by macho men manning the coffee...
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Bandera 347, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Every day 2,000 empanadas are freshly made at this historic food landmark on the corner of Bandera and Huérfanos in El Centro. Santiaguinos pop in for a gooey fried cheese empanada slathered in hot chili sauce, piping hot. Stand in at the counter...
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Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 933, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Chilean "completos" are hot dogs piled high with the works--usually mashed avocado, chopped tomato, optional sauerkraut, and an obscene amount of mayo (maybe 1/3 cup). Actually, eating them is a feat of gravity without the toppings winding up on...
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Bandera 361, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Just off the iconic Plaza de Armas, the main square, housed in the old customs building, is the Museum of Pre-Columbian art. The museum has a solid collection of Latin American art and history and an extensive collection of ceramics and pottery....
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San Pablo, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
If you’re aiming to see what last night’s catch looked like before it became your supper, head to Santiago’s Mercado Central, where every edible sea creature is up for sale. As boisterous as a stock market, the seafood exchange...
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Estación Central - Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 3349, Santiago, Estación Central, Región Metropolitana, Chile
The Planetario of Santiago will help you learn something new about the universe and the skies and stars of The City, without escaping from the lights of the capital. An oval roof theater serves as the canvas for this rotating projector that...
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Matucana 501, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
From 1973 to 1990, Chile was under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. During this period, many human rights atrocities were committed. After democracy returned to Chile, citizens stopped reeling and normalcy returned--but the question of what...