Santiago Landmarks Walking Tour (Self Guided), Santiago

Santiago offers amazing views of beautiful mountains that surround the city. The hills that lie within the city have became landmarks due to the magnificent view of Santiago they offer and because of the monuments that sit upon them. This self-guided tour will lead you to the most popular landmarks of Santiago:
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Santiago Landmarks Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Santiago Landmarks Walking Tour
Guide Location: Chile » Santiago (See other walking tours in Santiago)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.5 Km or 4 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Santa Lucía Hill
  • Pre-Columbian Art Museum
  • Catedral Metropolitana
  • National History Museum
  • Santo Domingo Church
  • National Museum of Fine Arts
  • Patio Bellavista
  • La Chascona
  • Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristóbal Hill)
Santa Lucía Hill

1) Santa Lucía Hill (must see)

Most of the time, hills are not seen as tourist attractions, but the Santa Lucia Hill in downtown Santiago veers away from this cliché as it features several beautiful sights, including fountains, a castle and stairways. Though it was originally called Huelen, which means “melancholy”, it brings smiles to the faces of many travelers who are awed by its beautiful facade. Its current name commemorates Santa Lucía day which is the date when Pedro de Valdivia conquered the hill in 1541.

The current beauty of the hill can be attributed to the efforts of Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna, who remodeled the hill by developing a road across it, building a chapel and introducing different varieties of trees and vegetation which did wonders to the hill's appearance. This he achieved with the help of Manuel Aldunate, Enrique Henes and Andres Staimbuck. Fountains, as well as several lookout points, have been connected by paths and stairways, and this has made the hill one of the best places for a leisurely walk.

In December 1983, Santa Lucía Hill was declared a Chilean national monument and currently, a lot of events in the Castillo Hidalgo take place there, including weddings. It is also one of the best spots to get a scenic view of the city of Santiago.

Why You Should Visit:
Can be a great addition to any sightseeing walk involving Santiago's central area, as it is right between Barrios Lastarria and Bellas Artes, two of Santiago's most charming artsy areas.
If you're in the market for souvenirs, you're in luck: the hill is located directly across from the Santa Lucia artisan market, where you can find a wide range of reasonably priced Chilean items.

It is best to visit on the weekend, as there is less traffic in the city and therefore less pollution.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-7pm; Free entry
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pre-Columbian Art Museum

2) Pre-Columbian Art Museum (must see)

Art enthusiasts in search of Pre-Columbian art should definitely make a stop at the Pre-Columbian Art Museum in Santiago where some of the finest collections in this category are housed. For more than half a century, architect and passionate art collector, Sergio Larrain Garcia-Moreno, dedicated his time to collecting artifacts, most of which are currently located in the museum, opened in 1981.

The historical scope of the art displayed in this museum is about four and a half thousand years and each of the art pieces presented has a beauty that evokes emotion and exhibits the passion that the collector obviously had. Art from Mexico, Central America and the Amazon are featured in this museum, and they have a lot of aesthetic value, though most of them are not popular.

The museum is a testament to the diversity that existed in the Americas before the 16th century, in terms of culture and heritage, and outlines the daily activities of the indigenous people – architecture, music and war. The museum also contains an audiovisual library that has a lot of music files available to the public. One has to be a member of the museum, though, to borrow any of them.

Groups that wish to tour the museum can email their request up to one month in advance; the tours are available in Spanish and English.

Why You Should Visit:
To feel transported in time by walking through the halls, particularly the display in the basement of true primitive and pre-Columbian art.
There are also 3 galleries housing temporary collections that are equally well displayed, and with information also available in English.
The accent is more on the aesthetics of the artifacts and the museum really succeeds in carrying that through.

Try to arrive before lunchtime, as it is usually packed.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Catedral Metropolitana

3) Catedral Metropolitana (must see)

Santiago's Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the largest and most impressive churches in Chile. It was erected between 1748 and 1775, and its facade received its present neoclassical look from Joaquin Toesca. In 1879, towers were added to the structure and other modifications were made to the offices, the palace of the archbishop, and the cathedral’s façade.

The interior of the cathedral is magnificent with its three naves and splendid ceiling. Several urns in the nave, at its right, are said to contain the remains of Chilean cardinals, while the central nave features altar seats made of mahogany, and the main altar made of white marble in 1912 in Munich. The pulpits date back to the 16th century; the organ – to the 18th.

The third nave, to the left of the cathedral, has altars dedicated to St. Michael the archangel, and Santiago the Major, the city’s patron. The Holy Sacrament Chapel within the church is similar to Saint John's Chapel in Rome.

The Museum of Sacred Art is located close to Plaza de Quintana and was founded in the 19th century. The tomb of St. James was discovered on the very spot, on which the altar was built. There are also several paintings and sculptures, as well as religious ornaments.

Why You Should Visit:
Quite a majestic edifice indeed, with the solemnity that was sought after.
Well decorated inside, grand and massive from the outside – a good place to observe Catholic culture in Chile.

Go early before most of the crowds arrive so that you can get some good photos (also the light is generally much better).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
National History Museum

4) National History Museum

The National History Museum of Santiago would appeal to history buffs from all over the world, much as to lovers of art who would also find plenty of interest in its corridors and one of the eighteen exhibition halls. The museum, located right opposite Plaza de Armas, is a historical marvel which recounts the nation’s illustrious history from the time of early explorers and discovery by Europeans to about 1973 when the Junta coup plunged the country under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

The layout of the museum makes it very easy for a visitor to navigate through its halls, easily transporting themselves in time from the era of Chile's first discovery to the colonial period, the independence time through to the modern days. There is so much to learn about all these periods and the traveler will definitely have a lot to take in. Practically everything that has molded Chile into the country it is today, including railroads, wars, conflicts, industry and expansion during the colonial era, is on display.

Paintings in the National History Museum are nothing short of impressive, too, with original portraits of individuals who have gained a foothold in the history of the country.

Remember to ask for an audio guide at the "tickets". They're good!
You can also ask to visit the clock tower and see Plaza de Armas from above.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm; Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santo Domingo Church

5) Santo Domingo Church

This religious edifice in the downtown area of Santiago is a solid proof that the most beautiful structures can also be the simplest. Its architectural marvel lies in simple lines, dominated by two towers at the top, featuring the Bavarian Baroque style. The church shows a mixture of architectural elements and artistic diversity that may be another reason why it looks so beautiful. The outside appearance reflects neoclassical influence with a touch of Creole. The church was built by Juan de los Santos Vasconcellos, who laid its foundation in 1747, before Joaquín Toesca took over the construction in 1796.

The interior is quite spacious and adorned with several paintings from the colonial era. Visitors can learn much about Santo Domingo in whose honor the church is named. The building has withstood several earthquakes and fires which partially damaged the structure; the interior had to be refurbished, though. In 1951, the church was declared a national monument of Chile.

Why You Should Visit:
Bears the signs of surviving many events and has a largely unadorned interior, the main point of beauty and attraction being the statue of the Madonna and Child dressed in white with a rich royal blue and golden cape.
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Fine Arts

6) National Museum of Fine Arts

Lovers of Chilean and South American art should make a stop at the Chilean National Museum of Fine Art, which is the oldest fine arts museum in South America. The museum was established in 1880 but the building itself dates back to 1910 and was designed by Emile Jecquier, an architect of French and Chilean descent.

The building features a mixture of Neoclassical and Baroque Revival styles with the hints of structural architecture. It is very instrumental in the exhibition of visual arts and some of the most famous artists have displayed their works here since the museum's inception.

Apart from being an exhibition space, as of 1974 the National Museum of Fine Arts has been actively involved in the restoration and conservation of art, after a pertinent agreement was signed with UNESCO and the Organization of American States. The museum is currently home to more than three thousand works of art created by illustrious masters from Chile and other countries. It also holds an extraordinary collection of Oriental art, featuring works from China and Japan, as well as African sculptures.

Why You Should Visit:
Light, airy, cool, pleasant space in which to escape the heat of the day.
Even though it's not a huge museum and even though it has a limited permanent collection, the architecture is amazing and there's a different changing exhibition every week.

Check out the MAC (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo) which is on the back half of the same building and boasts a generous exhibition space for installations as well as a rather cozy little café.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6:45pm; Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
Patio Bellavista

7) Patio Bellavista (must see)

A traveler searching for a one-stop place where culture, art and cuisine combine should make their way to Patio Bellavista in the heart of Santiago. This beautiful patio is a meeting place with numerous delights: wine shops, restobars, restaurants, art, crafts, an ice cream parlor and art gallery. More than fifty shops, featuring the best quality of art souvenirs and handicrafts, can be found here, with jewelry, artwork, pottery, fine leather products, textiles and books all finding a home.

The place can be accessed from various major tourist destinations, including La Chascona, El Mercado Central and Cerro San Cristobal. This is a top destination for a nocturnal traveler who fancies some night entertainment, whereas those more active during the day could relax and enjoy this patio visiting its various shops and restaurants. There are usually several events on the go that are sure to catch the traveler's eye, including historical and cultural exhibitions, as well as traditional dances that will give you a better peek into the life and culture of the natives.

Why You Should Visit:
Despite being in the middle of a very busy and dynamic area, it has a bohemian atmosphere (especially in the afternoon or early evening), with a mixture of souvenir and craft shops, excellent restaurants (Asian, Italian, Spanish and Chilean cuisines – some have a 2nd floor with a view to the whole patio), bars, pizzerias, pubs, as well as plenty of dessert spots for crepes or the rolling ice cream that's all the craze at the moment. Great place for first-time visitors.

Plan your trip to allow time to visit one of the open-air restaurants on the patio.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Tue: 10am-2am; Wed: 10am-3am; Thu-Sat: 10am-4am
La Chascona

8) La Chascona (must see)

La Chascona, the home of Pablo Neruda, a celebrated Chilean poet, was built in 1953. It is named in honor of the poet’s third wife, Matilde Urrutia, who was famed for her abundant red hair. Neruda and his future wife had used this property as a romantic getaway for years before they actually tied the knot. The house is located at Bellavista, at the foot of San Cristobal Hill.

It features a unique style, with one of its most outstanding features being the library with a wide collection of paintings from Chile and around the world, as well as the books that once belonged to the poet. The house also accommodates the headquarters of the Pablo Neruda Foundation.

Replete with winding stairs, paths and bridges, La Chascona has a secret passageway and a bedroom at the top of the tower. Various collections of seashells, butterflies, wine glasses and many other different objects allow visitors a glimpse of romantic inspiration that was responsible for Neruda's poetic creations. The building is a house-museum and those who wish to see the books in the library or the poet’s collection will have to pay an entry fee.

The property was vandalized after the coup of 1973 that overthrew president Salvador Allende, but Matilde did her best to preserve the property and lived here until she passed away in 1985.

Why You Should Visit:
Very interesting mix of architecture and history of Neruda's life that will not leave you disappointed. The house itself can be both elegant and flamboyant at the same time, reflecting Neruda's unique tastes in furnishing and design. Besides, you get an interesting look not only at a brilliant creative human being but also a general overview of the 20th century with a little Communism, Socialism, gender equality, machismo, dictatorships and human rights all part and parcel...

Take the tour with an audio device, as it is really essential for understanding the layout.
Also, make sure to see the movie *before* embarking on the tour – you won't be able to see it after.
Note that you're not allowed to take pictures inside the house, but you can certainly take them outside.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristóbal Hill)

9) Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristóbal Hill) (must see)

Those who seek the best view of picturesque Santiago de Chile should make their way to the majestic San Cristóbal Hill in the northern part of the city. The hill rises to about 880 meters, which is approximately 300 meters higher than most of the sites in Santiago. It is the second highest spot in the city, and the view it affords is quite spectacular.

At the very top of the hill stands the statue of Virgin Mary, inaugurated in 1908. There is also a church which became well known after Pope John Paul II served a mass there in 1987. The largest park in Santiago, a vast urban expanse of green space with varied landscapes and roads for vehicles, is also found on the hill.

The most stunning view of the city opens shortly after it's rained and the smog cleared off, on a sunny summer day. Then, you can see virtually everything, from the high-rising towers of Santiago to the Andes mountains far beyond.

Why You Should Visit:
The "must-see" big hill in Santiago, hands down. Many things to do in the park, like hiking its many trails, cycling, going to the pool in the summer, riding the funicular and the recently renovated cable car, visiting different corners (Japanese Garden and/or different playgrounds), etc.

Make sure you get Mote con Huesillo at the peak! Most refreshing (made with a dried peach, husked wheat and sugar syrup) traditional drink plus an 'empanada de pino'!

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