Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of day one in Santiago; of La Moneda; of Plaza de Armas;

La Modena - Santiago, Chile From Chile W12 Santiago1

This last weekend I decided to go to the big city of Santiago. All of my Chileans friends were saying that it is a dirty dangerous city, but I felt I had to see the capital city of Chile. It the city where pretty much all of the history of the nation took place. The history of centuries of presidents, soldiers, protests, and coups are in this city. It was the first city founded in Chile in 1541, has a population of about 6.5 million people or about 1/3 of the total population of the nation, and truly is the heart of Chile. In my 3 days in Santiago I found that the city is nothing like the dirty overcrowded city my friends described.

I left Valdivia late thursday night by bus to go north. It is about an 11 hour bus ride so I got into the big city at about 10am friday after a good movie on my laptop and a good sleep on the bus. After taking the metro-subway into the city center I made my way towards my hostel.

The first big site I came across in Chile was the Moneda which is like the Chilean version of the White House. It is the palace where the president does his work.

From Chile W12 Santiago1

Una Parada Militar frente a la Moneda
It is an old building. This photo is of the palace in the late 1800s.

incendio declarado, vista de la Plaza de La Libertad.
Over the years the the Moneda has been restored several times. The building was bombed and burnt during the 1973 coup to rid Chile from their democratically elected Marxist president.

pleno incendio
President Salvador Allende was found dead in the Moneda after the bombardment. The other week in Chile his body was exhumed to determine if it was suicide (which was has been the general belief for years) or if he was shot and the suicide was staged by the forces of the overthrowing dictator.

Panorama 2
I made my way to Hostel Plaza de Armas. It is on the 6th floor of a building looking out over the historic central plaza of Santiago. The hostel has the most amazing view of the plaza from their patio. Being in Plaza de Armas it is very close to all of the tourist attractions of Santiago, but a good distance from the discotheques.

From Chile W12 Santiago1

La plaza de Armas y la calle catedral
This photo I'm guessing is from the 1940s. You can still see these buildings in the plaza.

The plaza de armas was created in every Spanish city in the new world. It was the center to the town where every one would run to grab weapons when natives or other forces attacked. Around the plaza you could find all of the colonial Spanish institutions: church, governor's house, political buildings, and the courthouse. The Plaza de Armas in Santiago still has many of these buildings, but most have been converted into other things. The cathedral is still religious and chimes throughout the day, but the governors house is now just a good looking post office.

The cathedral is still in the plaza de armas is more than 200 years old.  From Chile W12 Santiago1

vista oriente de la Catedral de Santiago 1900
The Cathedral in 1900.

Santiago is a sort of dirty city. Lots of graffiti around and there is always some smog, but it isn't that bad. It wasn't as bad as I expected. They also had some rain a few day before I got in so that cut down some of the smog in the city.

This is the river that runs through the city. Not that great of a site to see.  From Chile W12 Santiago1
Not all of Santiago is 200 year old elegant buildings. There are a lot of boring buildings around too.  From Chile W12 Santiago1

From Chile W12 Santiago1
I found a little reminder of home.  From Chile W12 Santiago1

My first day in town I did a lot of exploring. A took a good walk through the city and then took a walking tour. It was a tour that took as all around the city. Our guide was an English speaking Chilean who knew his city well. There were about 10 of us on the tour: people from Canada, Australia, Holland, Brazil, England, and me from the states. It is just known as "Free Tour" and supports its self on tips which I know my guide sure deserved.

Our guide.   From Chile W12 Santiago1

A gift from Germany for Chile's centennial in 1910. Everyone wonders why they didn't get anything for last year's bicentennial.  From Chile W12 Santiago1

So many amazing buildings in Chile. From Chile W12 Santiago1

It is also a good walking city. Lots of pedestrian only streets. From Chile W12 Santiago1

This is the Bellavista area where all the bars and nightlife in Santiago is found.  From Chile W12 Santiago1

My first night I went out to do some salsa dancing. I don't have any pictures because I didn't want to have any thing of value on me. People had told me that Santiago can be dangerous so I was prepared with only my cell and the money I would need for the night. I didn't have any problems. I went to get a bit to eat and drink before going out dancing and my waitress was able to recommend a place to dance salsa. She even called up her taxi friend so I could get a cheap and safe ride there. The place where I went, Havana Salsa, started with just some people singing salsa tunes and then professional dancers came out all dressed up in Cuban salsa style and put on a show. After that, around 1 or 2 in the morning, everyone was able to dance. It was a good night in the big city.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like I was just tricked into reading the history of Santiago. Hahaha. Who's the girl posing for you? Did you dance with everyone? I want to hear about the dance scene!