24 Hours in Santiago
Posted on February 28, 2013 by sguese
Chile’s capital city of Santiago knows a thing or two about location. Spread out between the Andes and a coastal range, the city sets up with best of landscapes. Between Rio Mapocho and Rio Maipo, the benefits of perusing this scenic, cultural and historic city are endless.
Beginning in Santiago, a massive city, might take time to get used to. The best introduction is at Mercado Central. The imposing wrought iron building was actually constructed in England and brought to Chile, piece-by-piece, apple-by-apple. It was officially assembled for the National Exposition of 1872, but the market had staying power. Santiago utilizes the space as a market today, filling with produce, seafood and small food stalls. Mercado Central provides a look at local living and eating in Santiago, the perfect beginning to exploring this city.
Next, you will want to take your Santiago rental car into Palacio de la Moneda. Just imagine the criticism this space received in the beginning. Many believed it to be too lavish and ostentatious, but it grew on the city. Now it is considered a fine example of neoclassical architecture in Latin America.
To get to know Santiago a little deeper, you can get a nice overview at Museo de Santiago—Casa Colorada. Named for its rosy red paint color, the museum was once an important residence in colonial times. Today, it shows off the city’s rich history.
Once you have strolled Santiago’s streets, it may be time for a nice glass of wine. Due to the city’s location, there are a number of wineries to explore. Concha y Toro Winery is one of the most famous, founded by Melchor Santiago de Concha y Cerda in 1883. Just 27 kilometers south of the city, you can take in the scenic winery through tours and wine tastings. Viña Cousiño Macul is also worth a visit, family owned since 1856.
Close out the day at Cerro San Cristobal, the highest hill in Santiago. You ascend the hill via a funicular. The funicular ultimately drops you off to explore the zoo, Mapulemu botanical gardens, Japanese gardens and even a casino. However the true highlight is the panoramic view of Santiago. Cerro San Cristobal also holds a splendid statue of Virgen del Cerro San Cristobal, the site of an annual pilgrimage for devout Chileans.
From the snowcapped Andean peaks to the east and the smaller coastal range to the west, Santiago contains so much in between. While known for its pollution and noise, Santiago is still cultured, quirky and ambitious. Once you recognize this fact after a day, you might extend your visit well beyond 24 hours.
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