Recoleta Walking Tour, Santiago

Recoleta Walking Tour (Self Guided), Santiago

Established under the rule of Pinochet, Recoleta is perhaps the most famous of all the Santiago communes. It is undeniably one of Chile’s most multicultural places, replete with historic and architectural attractions: churches, parks and more.

The Franciscan Church and Convent of Recoleta – built in 1843, this Neoclassical complex with Tuscan influence was declared a National Monument in 1973. The bronze fountain in front of it was the focal point of Plaza de Armas until 1838.

Patronato Street Market – known for its clothing stores: mostly small, independent shops. The gastronomic options here are also diverse: from Lebanese falafel restaurants to Korean chicken diners. If you seek a break from the typical Latin American grub, Patronato is the place to go.

Parroquia de Santa Filomena (Parish of Santa Filomena) – is a Neo-Gothic church built in 1884; named after Santa Filomena, a saint and a martyr. La Vega Central Market – the city’s largest fruit and vegetable market offering the best choice of fresh produce – from locally-grown avocados, tomatoes and blueberries to imported Peruvian corn. Foodies will also enjoy the many local restaurants – small, pop-up eateries with a few tables and chairs outside.

The Dominican Church and Convent of Recoleta – declared a National Monument in 1974; inspired by the design of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Cerro Blanco (White Hill) – a place where indigenous festivals, workshops and ceremonies take place. General Cemetery of Santiago – one of Chile’s largest and most important cemeteries. Marxist president Salvador Allende and other prominent figures are among those buried here.

For a closer acquaintance with the most notable sights of Recoleta, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Recoleta Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Recoleta Walking Tour
Guide Location: Chile » Santiago (See other walking tours in Santiago)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Church and Convent of the Franciscan Recoleta
  • Passeo Patronato (Patronato Street Market)
  • Parroquia de Santa Filomena (Parish of Santa Filomena)
  • La Vega Central Market
  • Church and Convent Recoleta Dominica
  • Cerro Blanco (White Hill)
  • General Cemetery of Santiago
Church and Convent of the Franciscan Recoleta

1) Church and Convent of the Franciscan Recoleta

In the seventeenth century, dedicated Christians of Santiago, who wished to stay away from secular pleasures and lead a life of sacrifice, would find refuge in the historic Franciscan Recoleta Convent. During the colonial era, travelers stopped here for compulsory prayers prior to heading up north of the country. Recoleta also has attracted many followers of the Franciscan friar Andresito who died here in 1853 and was attributed with miraculous powers.

The earthquake of 1730 did a lot of harm to the church and the convent, both of which were restored completely in 1811 and 1848, respectively, courtesy of Fermin Vivaceta, who also added decorations to the buildings for the sake of pleasing future generations. The restored church features neoclassic style and has a central nave and two lateral vaulted ones. The altar has been made in a Baroque style of unique, polychromatic wood.

The church, dedicated to the Virgin of the Summit, has an outstanding Baroque image of the Virgin featured on the altar. The church and convent of Franciscan Recoleta was declared a national monument of Chile in 1973.
Passeo Patronato (Patronato Street Market)

2) Passeo Patronato (Patronato Street Market)

If you ever need new clothes, while in Santiago, consider Patronato Street Market a prime destination. Specialized in clothing and accessories, the market comprises labyrinths of roads lined with stalls, outlets, and shops, sometimes crowded, particularly on weekends, but overall exciting to explore.

Patronato is rightfully regarded as one of the most cosmopolitan spots in Santiago where the local culture collides and blends with the Asian and Middle Eastern. The tremendous choice of goods on display caters to any style, fabric, or color preference and, what's more appealing, at bargain prices - equivalent to 2-10 euros apiece. All of this makes Patronato a definite must-visit place.
Parroquia de Santa Filomena (Parish of Santa Filomena)

3) Parroquia de Santa Filomena (Parish of Santa Filomena)

The Parish of Santa Filomena can be found in the Patronato district of the Recoleta municipality in Santiago. Its origins trace back to a period of persecution against non-profit organizations following the issuance of the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891. This encyclical addressed the plight of the working class and the exploitation they faced.

Named in honor of a Christian martyr and saint, the church was originally constructed in 1884 by Eugenio Joannon, who utilized donations from some of Santiago's wealthiest families. Overseeing the construction was the priest, Ruperto Marchant.

The church boasts an exquisite Neo-Gothic design, making it a captivating sight with its grand exterior and lavishly adorned interior. Within, numerous magnificent paintings, some sourced from France, add to the splendor and create a breathtaking chiaroscuro effect. In its early days, the church served as a place of worship for the congregation of Josephite fathers who had arrived in Santiago from Italy.

Despite enduring damage from multiple earthquakes that have struck Santiago since the 19th century, the church has managed to remain standing. One of the most devastating earthquakes occurred in 1985. After undergoing extensive repairs and restoration to recapture its original beauty, the church was rightfully designated as a national heritage site in 1995.
La Vega Central Market

4) La Vega Central Market

La Vega Central Market is a lively market with more than 500 stalls selling fresh fruit, meat, seafood and various merchandise. The structure was built in 1895, and then expanded in 1916.

Those who don't want to shop should still stop by the market to have an experience that is uniquely Chilean. Thousands of people pass through La Vega Central Market every day. Visitors will see tourists and locals alike loading up their bags with traditional food.

Shoppers should bring their own bag to the market. It is very crowded, so a cross-body bag that can be easily held in front of the body is recommended. Tourists can also stop at a small restaurant in the market where they can find Chilean and Peruvian food along with pizza, Thai cuisine, seafood and ice cream.

La Vega Central Market is located on Davila Baeza in the Recoleta region of Santiago.
Church and Convent Recoleta Dominica

5) Church and Convent Recoleta Dominica

The Church and Convent Recoleta Dominica have been around since the 18th century. The Dominican congregation arrived in Chile in the 16th century and 200 years later, in the lands donated to the congregation by the authorities, established the Convent of Recoleta Dominica, one of the most important ones in terms of religious observance of that period.

The construction of their first house of prayer, very simple in design, started in 1753. The initiative to build a new church came in 1853, when a new altar for the old church was commissioned. The project was designed by Italian architect Eusebio Chelli, but it was Manuel Aldunate and Avaria who effectively led the work to completion and designed the dome crowning the central nave. In 1886-1888 the convent was remodeled to its present appearance.

Today, the complex represents an architectural and historic monument, and accommodates the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Dominican Historical Museum, and the Recoleta Dominica Heritage Library.
Cerro Blanco (White Hill)

6) Cerro Blanco (White Hill)

Cerro Blanco stands as both a hill and a significant historical landmark. This geographical wonder proudly rises 89 meters (292 feet) above the surrounding terrain, spanning an impressive surface area of 28 hectares (69 acres). Bounded by Recoleta Avenue to the east, Santos Dumont Avenue to the south, and La Unión Street to the north, this remarkable site finds separation from the Cementerio General de Santiago by the latter street.

In times past, stones extracted from a quarry on Cerro Blanco were instrumental in constructing some of Santiago's remarkable historical buildings, including the esteemed Santo Domingo Church. The name "Cerro Blanco" (translating to "White Hill") holds a fascinating origin—it harks back to the colonial era when Dominican landowners, who adorned white clothes, owned the land upon the hill.

Nestled on the lower southeast flank of Cerro Blanco and consecrated to Our Lady of Montserrat, the Church of the Small Vineyard, a marvel completed in 1840, adds to the allure of this already captivating location.
General Cemetery of Santiago

7) General Cemetery of Santiago

This eighty-five hectare expanse is a final resting place for all but two Chilean presidents as well as many notable Chilean citizens, including political leaders and poets. The area abounds in spectacular mausoleums and tombs, some of which were crafted by the greatest sculptors in Chile, and is surrounded by gardens, lanes, leafy trees and beautiful sculptures. The monument to a suffering sculptor, by Carrier Belleuse, is found at the entrance to the cemetery, with more elaborate tombs lying further afield. Victims of the 1863 Iglesia de la Compania (Church of Companion) are buried here.

A memorial to the late president Salvador Allende makes this cemetery one of the top visited sites in the country. Reportedly, Allende committed suicide during the coup of 1973 staged by General Augusto Pinochet. The coup led to the establishment of Junta regime. After Chile returned to democracy in the 1990s, the remains of Salvador Allende were exhumed from the Santa Ines Cemetery and placed at the General Cemetery of Santiago. Also, there is a memorial to those who disappeared during Pinochet's rule.

The land on which the cemetery is laid out was set aside by Chilean independence leader and founding father Bernardo O'Higgins in 1819, after the country proclaimed independence. To date, there are over two million burials on the ground, making it the one of the largest burial sites in Latin America.

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