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An introduction to valparaiso, Chile
Santiago Valparaiso Chilean Slang

An introduction to Valparaiso.

As it became the most important harbor in the South Hemisphere, Valparaiso reached the top of its development in the nineteenth century. This city became an attractive destination for European and American immigrants, due to its natural and architectonical beauty, and the efforts of its inhabitants. Nevertheless, when the Panama Canal was inaugurated, Valparaiso was no longer a obligatory path for sailors around the world. Therefore, the flow of ships and its commercial activity, which gave Valparaiso its urban magnificence, diminished.

Due to its particular founding, Valparaiso is considered a unique city, from an urban point of view: this city did not undergo the violent conquest which Chile suffered at that time, since the immigration took place gradually and with no initial project. In that sense, the sailors were the ones who started to discover the potential of this “rough diamond”, and it was their endeavor which drew the first lines of its urban silhouette. Hence, the charm of its geography set the grounds of “The Pearl of the Pacific” as many travelers called it.

So, the idiosyncrasy of its inhabitants is that of an unconquered town, of a city not planned from its very beginnings. Valparaiso is creative and free as the color of its hills. With this, the city started to take shape as sailors, travelers and merchants construed the contours of its hills; eventually, they settled and created a real Pandora’s box called Valparaiso. Thus, European and American people contributed to the social and economic development of the city (which became even more financially active than Santiago during the twentieth century) with their adventurous spirit and feeling charmed by a land practically untouched by men. Thus, in the twentieth century, the main technological advances- like the telegraph, the railway and the electricity- were developed in Valparaiso first, before any other Chilean city.

Therefore, to go through the hills of Valparaiso is like going back in time, and (with some imagination) feeling what its first settlers and adventurers felt. They were the ones that put themselves out for this city in a relentless discovery of a beauty offered by a unique geography. Such charm goes hand-by-hand with the particular form of its streets, drawn in an ever-flowing invention of monuments, buildings and houses. They are all part of a fickle urban geography which invites the travelers to dive into its history.

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