Santiago Museums Tour (Self Guided), Santiago

Santiago, the capital of Chile, was founded by Spanish conquerers. As most other capitals, the heart of Santiago is full of museums rich in the culture and history of the city and of Chile. This self-guided tour will lead you to the most visited museums of Santiago:
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Santiago Museums Tour Map

Guide Name: Santiago Museums 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: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • La Chascona
  • National Museum of Fine Arts
  • Museum of Visual Arts
  • Museum of Sacred Art at Cathedral of Santiago
  • Pre-Columbian Art Museum
  • Palacio de La Moneda
  • Palacio Cousiño Museum
La Chascona

1) 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
National Museum of Fine Arts

2) National Museum of Fine Arts (must see)

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
Museum of Visual Arts

3) Museum of Visual Arts

Museum of Visual Arts is actually a gallery of modern arts. It is a very popular place that has works of Chilean and other artists from various South American countries.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm.
Museum of Sacred Art at Cathedral of Santiago

4) Museum of Sacred Art at Cathedral of Santiago (must see)

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 displays of religious works of fine silver left behind by the exiled Jesuits, as well as an ensemble of religious paintings, sculptures & furniture. The museum is free and reached through the bookstore neighboring the cathedral.

Don't miss the ethereal courtyard, a paradigm of faded grandeur.
Pre-Columbian Art Museum

5) 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
Palacio de La Moneda

6) Palacio de La Moneda (must see)

Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda ("Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center") is a cultural facility located in Santiago, Chile, under the Citizenry Square, in the southern façade of the Palacio de La Moneda. It is intended to place the Chilean capital in the international cultural circuit, allowing participative and formative access for all citizens to the cultural and audiovisual richness of the nation. It was built between November 2004 and January 2006 and was designed by Chilean architect Cristián Undurraga. It contains 7,200 m², with two main exhibition halls, each 620 m² in area. Also, this center houses other minor exhibition halls: the Centro de Documentación de las Artes ("Arts Documentation Center", with information and resources concerning modern and contemporary art), and Cineteca Nacional ("National Film Archive"). The museum also has a Digital Laboratory (for film restoring and digitalization), restaurants, a café, and a small shop. There is a new art and technology exhibition room, a parking garage under the space with room for 564 cars on 4 levels, with pedestrian and vehicular access on Morande street and Teatinos street. If you plan ahead, you can get a free guided tour of the museum. On the weekends only the general public can receive the tour. On weekdays, social organizations, students, and companies can organize a guided tour, as well as the general public.

Why You Should Visit:
The tour is interesting and lasts a little over 1h, and includes the chance to see the changing of the guard and various interesting rooms & artifacts important to Chilean history.

You will need to take your passport or ID card for the tour. Don't forget to make your tour reservation at least few days in advance.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-7:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palacio Cousiño Museum

7) Palacio Cousiño Museum (must see)

Any history and art lover, who would also like to spice up their trip with a look at some awe-inspiring and elegant fortune, should make their way to one of the biggest museums in Chile, the Palacio Cousiño Museum. Built in the late 19th century by Luis Cousiño of the wealthy Cousiño Goyenechea family, who had made a fortune on silver and coal mining, as well as wine production, this building stands as a testament of the local rich's lifestyle of that period.

The building was dedicated to the aristocrat's wife, Isadora Goyenechea, and abounds in wood, iron railings, as well as silk wall coverings. Most of the furniture in the museum is made of the Chinese cherry tree; the cutlery are of solid gold and there are some unique Italian ceramics, all of which display the immense wealth that Mr. Luis Cousiño had immersed for himself.

Starting 1940, the palace has accommodated important guests of the city. It is recognized as a Chilean national monument.

Why You Should Visit:
To get an idea of what it was like to be rich in the 19th century.
Breathtaking floors and rooms, exquisite works of art and furniture.
Affordable entry price for everyone looking to enjoy a different afternoon alone or with company.

Tours in English are available approximately every 15min.
Take advantage of your visit here by also walking the nice Parque Almagro to the East where you'll meet with the spectacular Iglesia de los Sacramentinos, a copycat of the Sacre Coeur.

Opening hours:
Tue-Fri: 9:30am-1:30pm | 2:30pm-5pm;
Sat, Sun, and holidays: 9:30am-1:30pm

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles

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