|GRAFFITIS/ STREET ART in Cerro Polanco- VALPO|
|Polanco Graffestival, Chile’s first festival for street artists, transformed the community of Cerro Polanco into Valparaíso’s newest tourist attraction.|
Street artists from around Chile and Latin America converged on Valparaíso in November 2012 to transform a lower economic neighborhood into the city’s newest travel destination.
Cerro Polanco already stands out for having the city’s only vertical ascensor, the UNESCO World Heritagelisted trolley cars that carry commuters up Valparaíso’s colorful hills, or cerros. But few tourists go beyond the lookout of the distinctive tower-shaped Ascensor Polanco – which offers one of the most commanding views of port city – preferring instead to wander the streets of the more affluent areas of Cerro Alegre and Concepción.
That’s set to change now, thanks to Chile’s first ever street art festival, the Polanco Graffestival, 2012.
Drawing more than 77 artists from all over Chile and Latin America, the three day event saw the creation of more than 30 works of art, literally turning the cerro into an open air gallery, and cementing Valparaíso’s reputationas an international capital of street art.
You get there by taking any bus going to Argentina Avenue and get off at Simpson street. You can tell the driver to leave there. Then just walk towards the hill and you find the entrance ( 150 mts tunnel) of the vertical ascensor. You can also do this tour with Natalislang's extra activities.
|MIL TAMBORES ( A Thousand Drums) 2014|
( Here a video of Mil Tambores carnival last year)
This weekend, October 3th to October 5th, the bohemian port city of Valparaíso will come alive with music, dancers and general revelry in the annual festival of Mil Tambores – a thousand drums.
The "Mil Tambores" (Thousand Drums) Carnival has established itself as a traditional carnival in the port city of the Chilean coast since 1999 as a protest against the apparent lack of public spaces for cultural artistic expression by "Porteños"- people born in Valparaíso.
Today , Valparaíso is a bomb of artistic expressions everywhere 365 days a year. However , this carnival " Mil tambores" remains as a symbol of protest to show the authorities the powerful presence of artists in the city and the strength of their joy, freedom, and dreams about a better society.
Every year, Mil Tambores is related to a different topic. In 2013 the topic was "Por El Derecho a la Felicidad"(For the right of happiness). This year the theme is " YO CUIDO VALPARAISO" (I take care of Valparaíso) .
Come to experience this beautiful celebration of three days of colors, music and dance.
Check the full program and schedule on www.miltambores.cl
If you need some help or advice about transportation , accomodation, security and more, email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will help you FOR FREE.
|Plaza Echaurren to Torpederas|
|Summary: This section can be combined with section 1 to make a wonderful 2 ½ hour stroll.|
Estimated Walking Time: Approximately 90 minutes.
How to get here: By car, park at the underground parking at Sotomayor Square and rewalk the three blocks back to the Plaza Echaurren. Or take any bus or trolley that says Aduana and ask to be advised at Echaurren Square.
Degree of difficulty: Easy
Tourist infrastructure: Barrio Puerto should not be walked alone at night, but by day is basically safe. Lost of cheap restaurants adorn the market place. The best restaurant on this route is probably the Castillo, at mid route, just up the hill across from the Membrillo wharf. The Castillo offers spectacular views. The Membrillo Wharf offers inexpensive food, folk singers, and an informal atmosphere.
One of Valparaíso’ most exquisite urban historical sites, this was originally the beach where Spanish explorers landed when they discovered Valparaíso in the 1500’s. Later, it became a bustling commercial center, with many century-old family-owned businesses as the Echaurren Emporium, the Sethmacher Sausage factory, and the Knop Pharmacy. Other impressive buildings include the Market Place and the Aztoreca Palace.
The Market Place
This dilapidated historical monument is worth visiting to imagine what it must have been like in its prime. The facade was recently restored, but the interior still requires massive investment.
Architecturally, the central stairway is a wonder. From here we continue down Cochrane Street, flanked by sailor’s bars, to the old Plaza Wheelwright, which features the Custom’s House, the Artillery Elevator, and the institutional headquarters of the Port of Valparaíso.
The Custom’s House
Considered Valparaíso’s most valuable example of colonial architecture, the custom house’s most famous functionary was the great Nicaraguan modernist poet Rubén Darío. The architect was the American John Brown Duffin, who made a significant fortune in Valparaíso. At his death, he left a statement, administered by his wife Isabel Caces, which provided for the founding of what would become the Catholic University of Valparaíso. This noble building has survived many earthquakes.
Calle Errázuriz Echaurren
Named after a former Chilean President who died in Valparaíso, this is one of several trademark streets in this section of Playa Ancha Hill. At the pentagon-shaped intersection you will head down Federico Echaurren Street, starting off with a steep slope that seems to slip straight off into the ocean. At the end you will find a fine restaurant, “El Castillo” with an exceptional terrace and several dining environments. If you don’t want to visit the restaurant, you will access, via the public stairway, the Quince (Membrillo) Wharf, returning to ocean level once again.
Membrillo fisherman’s Wharf
This fisherman’s wharf enables visitors to learn about the lifestyle of the artisan fisherman in Chile. These humble, dignified folks preserve centuries-old traditions of working the sea. The restaurant is not elegant but the fish is fresh. This is also an excellent place to witness the colorful Procesión of Saint Peter, the patron saint of fisherman, celebrated every year at the end of June.
Valparaíso’s longest current stretch of walkable coastline is named after beloved regional governor who played a key role in the beautification of Valparaíso. In the old days, this was a very fashionable area frequented by elegant trolley buses ad cable cars. Today, the promenade is not good condition, but when the tide is high, the water crashes along the black rocks with impressive fury. As the road turns around Carvallo Beach, you can glimpse the Angels Point Lighthouse, which will serve as your backdrop all the way to Torpederas.
The starting point of the bicentennial route, Torpederas Beach is located at the end of Altamirano Avenue. Currently a hotspot for every day folks, this was once Valparaíso’s most fashionable hang-out for the hobnobbing elite in the 1930’s.
|Lord Cochrane Square to Echaurren Square|
Summary: This outstanding section is recommended on its own or combined with section 3 to make a circular route that starts and finishes at Plaza Sotomayor. Section 9 features many countless attractions, such as the Turri Clock, El Mercurio, the Bank of London, the Stock Exchange, and many, many others.
Estimated walking time: Approximately 90 minutes.
How to get here: By car, park under the Lord Cochrane Square. Enter the city on Pedro Montt, follow traffic as it sidesteps Victoria Square and merges into Brasil. Near the British Arch, you will begin to see blue signs with arrows indicating how to access the underground parking garage. By bus or trolley, get off at the Líder Supermarket on the corner of Brasil and Bellavista.
Degree of difficulty: Easy
Tourist Infrastructure: Lots. The traditional German eatery, Hamburgo, is highly recommended, but so is the century-old Café Riquet just around the corner on Aníbal Pinto Square. Across from the Riquet, the Cinzano is attractive for late diners, not so much for the food, but for its charm. Also try one of two newer Italian options on Esmeralda Street, Terra Nostra and Michelango. If you’re looking for the perfect combination of history and good eating, and you weren’t tempted by the Hamburgo or the Riquet, try the Old English Bar, across from the Turri Clock. At Prat Pier, the Bote Salvavidas is also excellent.
|Italian Park to Plaza Lord Cochrane|
Summary: This section is short. Take time to see the museums and other attractions. Highlights include the Sacred Hearts School, the Plaza Victoria, the Natural History Museum, city hall, the Severin Library, the old Spanish Club, and the German Club.
Estimated Walking Time: Approximately 90 minutes.
How to get here: By car, enter Valparaíso on Pedro Montt Street and park near the Hoyts Multicinema Complex. There is the Italian Park. By bus, take any of the buses in front of the bus station and get off after about 10 blocks, in front of the Cineplex.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Tourist Infrastructure: Plenty of eating opportunities at the low and medium range along Pedro Montt Street. For health food fanatics there is a great juice bar on Victoria Square (Bogarin) and a decent vegetarian restaurant on Condell Street (Bambu). At the end of the route, the traditional German eatery, Hamburg, is a must.
At Bellavista and Brasil, the childhood home of Matriarch Juana Ross is another national monument. This is now the German Club, complete with restaurant, a very important ethnic heritage site worth a visit. Brasil Street culminates in a lovely civic plaza in front of the regional government building, where many cultural activities are held. The Hamburg is Valparaíso’s premiere German restaurant.
|Baron’s Pier to Italian Park|
|Summary: You’ll zigzag through the old Almendral. The Catholic University, the Cardonal Market Place, and the old Huche Cookie Factory make up some of the highlights.|
Estimated Walking Time: Approximately 90 minutes.
How to get here: Ride the train to Baron Station, or take a bus or taxi to Viña, stepping of at the Baron Train station. A small pedestrian entrance leads to the Cruise Ship Terminal and Pier.
Degree of difficulty: easy
Tourist Infrastructure: There is a café in the Baron’s pier and another in the cruise terminal. Many inexpensive restaurants adorn the Market Place. On Pedro Montt Street there will be an infinite amount of soda fountains and inexpensive restaurants. This section begins at the Baron’s Pier, takes you past the Simón Bolivar warehouse and towards the Catholic University of Valparaíso. The immense concrete warehouse, the longest industrial building in all of Chile and now home to the most modern cruise terminal in the South Pacific, will form the centerpiece of the futures waterfront renovation project in Valparaíso.
Catholic University of Valparaíso (PUCV)
The Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso begins the college-town strip along Brazil Avenue, which also includes the University of Valparaíso and Duoc. The origins of PUCV, like that of the Santa María University, can be found in the generosity of born architect John Brown Duffin, who arrived from New York, forming part of the bustling US community in Valparaíso in the 1850’s. He left his fortune for philanthropic causes.
His widow Isabel decided on the creation of this university, built by architect Ernesto Urquieta in 1925. The first chancellor was Ruben Castro. The building is stately and noble, including lovely interior plazas and passageways. One of only a handful of Latin American University’s whose excellence is validated by the Vatican, PCUV’s legacy includes Chile’s first television station and the experimental city of Ritoque (Amereida), north of Viña on the coast.
Cardonal Market Place
An important fruit and vegetable market, this attractive market place exemplifies the industrial architecture developed in Valparaíso in the last days before the Panama Canal. The architect was Eduardo Feureisen and the building dates to 1912. Several blocks, you will find the stunning ex-Hucke factory (currently Chilquinta Energy), which is a second example of the same industrial architectural style.
Municipal Theater and Plaza O’Higgins
Via Uruguay Street you will access the Plaza O’Higgins, flanked on one side by the imposing congress and on the other by the Municipal Theater. On the weekends, this is the site of a fine antique market.
Pedro Montt Street
This street lost much notable architecture in the 1906 earthquake. Still, some valuable buildings remain. The Old Spanish Fire House is worth a visit. The Greek and Italian Schools also offers a glimpse into the city’s ethnic diversity.
Italian School and Italian Park
The influential Italian School dates to 1942. Many prominent intellectuals and public servants have studied here. A few blocks later, we arrive at the Italian Park, flanked by wonderful architecture, the Sacred Hearts School, the Turkish bath house, and several residential neighborhoods. During the mid 1800’s, the park was originally known as the Abadie Gardens, named after the French aristocrat, Paul Abadie who brought to Valparaíso seedlings from Europe. The area quickly became the hubs of the burgeoning social scene. City hall purchased the place in 1870 and in 1912 renamed it General Cruz Park, later settling for Italian Park. The city began to erect many fine statues, especially the monument to the Italian community of Valparaíso. During the Popular Unity Government of Salvador Allende, this area was renamed, “The Plaza of the People.” The idea never took off, and today nobody seems to complain that it has returned to Italian Park.
|Bellavista Hill to Lastra Street|
|Summary: If you only have time for two walks in Valparaíso, this makes an excellent compliment to Section 3. Highlights include the Valparaíso Foundation, Pablo Neruda’s House, La Sebastiana, the Open Air Museum, and the painted facades of Bellavista Hill. In addition, the route takes you to charming Prefecto Lazo Street and the surprising Florida Funicular.|
Estimated walking time: Approximately 2 hours.
How to get here: You can walk up the Pasteur Stairway to Valparaíso Foundation headquarters. The stairway is located behind the Ripley Department Store in the Plaza Victoria. Otherwise, take the Espíritu Santo Funicular elevator or take a taxi from the Plazuela Ecuador to Foundation headquarters.
Degree of Difficulty: The most complicated spur of this section is the three block uphill climb from the Open Air Museum to Pablo Neruda’s museum home, La Sebastiana. Very steep.
Built in 1906, this is one of Valparaíso’s most photographed funiculars, due to an exquisite pedestrian footbridge that crosses over the funicular path. Thousands of blossoming wildflowers accompany the short ride. If you don’t want to ride down, Murillo Street is an attractive alternative, offering great views and crossing over the previously mentioned footbridge.
|Pantheon Hill to Bellavista Hill|
Summary: An interesting walk with many important sites and many surprises. Major historical sites include the historic Dissident’s Cemetery, the Saint John’s Hill National Historic District, the Yungay Hill, the Eden Passageway, and Bellavista Hill.
How to get here: Take a collective taxi or bus from the Plazuela Ecuador to the old prison site.
Degree of difficulty: Look out; this is a killer with several treacherous climbs, ideal for urban hikers with a hearty spirit of adventure. Not recommended for the weak!
|Queen Victoria Elevator to the Old Prison|
Summary: A highly recommended walk through the upper sections of the Pleasant Hill National Historic District, winding along the elegant German Avenue to Bismark Square, and down Cumming Street to the old prison, now an active cultural center.
How to get here: Leave your car in the underground parking at Lord Cochrane Square (Regional Government Building) and walk 3 blocks up through the Plazuela Aníbal Pinto up Cumming Street to the Queen Victoria Funicular. Any bus outside the bus station will take you as well. Get off at Bellavista Street in front of the Líder Supermarket. From there, walk the same 3 blocks across the plaza, through the Pazuela Aníbal Pinto, and up Cumming Street to the Queen Victoria elevator.
Degree of difficulty: Strenuous, especially the first stretch from the Queen Victoria Elevator up to Avenida Alemania. The rest is flat or downhill.
Authorities have struggled to find the right plan to transform this historic penitentiary. The Guggenheim Foundation studied it as a finalist for their Latin American museum, but a large donation from a Brazilian industrialist ended that dream, in favor of Sao Paulo. Since that time, regional authorities have battled with government authorities in Santiago over a definitive restoration plan scheduled for the near future. In the meantime, the old cells can be visited during working hours. A series of old limestone tunnels located beneath the cellblocks and dating back to the early Spanish settlements, constitute one of the site’s most unique archeological features. Take a break.
|El Peral Funicular to Queen Victoria Elevator|
Summary: For tourists with limited time in Valparaíso, this is the walk you want to take. The Pleasant Hill and Concepción National Historic Districts constitute one of the most stunning and breathtaking cultural heritage sites in the world. The neighborhoods are well preserved and tourists friendly.
Degree of difficulty: There is a slight climb up Miramar Street from the Yugoslavian Promenade to Lautaro Rosas Street. The rest is flat or downtown hill. You may need to catch your breath, but in general, this is an accessible walk for healthy people for all age.
|Artillery Elevator to Justice Square|
|Summary: This section zigzags through much of the older section of Valparaíso’s historic quarter, declared a UNESCO world heritage site. The area around the Echaurren Square and the base of Santo Doming Hill, surrounding the Church of the Matriz constitute outstanding cultural heritage sites. Still, hikers should aware this is the poorer section of the historic quarter (section three is much better preserved) and a certain spirit of adventure is recommended.|
Estimated Walking Time: 90 minutes to 2 hours.
How to get here: take any of the buses on Errázuriz or Pedro Montt Street that says “Aduana”. Better yet, take a trolley. Get off at the Aduana and ride the funicular to the top of Artillery Hill.
Degree of Difficulty: This section features two significant climbs: one in Santo Domingo Hill and one in Cordillera Hill. The first can be avoided by shortcutting from the Plazuela Santo Domingo directly to Cajilla Street via Ullyses, eliminating the ascent. Still, wear comfortable shoes and avoid heels at all cost.
Tourist Infrastructure: There are cafes, restaurants, artist stands, and public bathrooms around the 21st of May Promenade at the beginning of the route. Once you get started, you may not find another clean bathroom until the Plaza Sotomayor, so start with an empty tank! There are a numbers of “picadas” (cheap, unglamorous restaurants recommended only to the most adventurous) around the Market place in Echaurren Square. At the end of the section you will find yourself at Sotomayor Square. At the end of the section you will find your self at Sotomayor Square, in the heart of the Valparaíso Financial District, with many amenities and fine restaurants galore.
Built in 1893, the Artillery Funicular is the second oldest in Valparaíso and was once the busiest, actually possessing four cars that moved up and down on two parallel tracks. The wooden cars, together with those of the Baron Funicular, are the largest in Valparaíso. Originally, this elevator worked on coal.
In the ex-machinist’s house you’ll find the Café Mirador. The café’s owner is Danilo Bruna Tello who has adorned the place with antiques, photographs, paintings, fluted bottles, keys, and old sewing machines, all brought together by attractive woodwork and a distinct maritime motif. At the end of the dining area you can actually gaze into the wheelhouse and see the machine work of the funicular in action. The café specializes in shrimp and cheese empanadas. He also sells a couple of specialty coffees, including cognac and chocolate, amongst others. “I’d always imagined a café like an anchored boat,” he says.
The House of the Artillery Hill:
The Grand Legacy of Barrison & Schiavon
One of the most photographed houses in Valparaíso is the stunning Victorian hanging from the precipice of Artillery Hill, just outside the station house of the Funicular. The house is inspired by the Harrington style and was one of the last homes of that period after the edification of the passage of the same name. This particular home was built between 1908 and 1909 for Don Wenseslao Campusano, a high level functionary at the custom’s house. The architects were two Italians, Arnaldo Barrison and Renato Schiavon; two architects recently arrived from Genova inspired by the thought of putting their expertise in historic restoration to work after the earthquake of 1906. Barrison and Schaivon brought to Valparaíso knowledge of European art Noveau, which had to be adapted to the conventional tastes of the porteños. They also needed to learn to adapt their constructions to the steep hillsides.
Barrison was born in Venice in 1883 and was educated in a family of artists and musicians. He studied architecture in Trieste and it was there where he met Schiavon who would become his inseparable friend and partner. These two architects later worked with José Smith Solar, author of the Santa María University. Barrison’s most noted work in Valparaíso is, without doubt, the Baburriza Palace in Pleasant Hill, whose spectacular Art Noveau styling could only have come from an expert.
Constructed in 1916, the Baburriza Palace was completed the same year that his two years Chilean wife, Mercedes Gonzalez, passed away. Other important works by this famous architects cited in this book include the Severín, La Casa Peraga, and the spectacular Rivera Palace with its notable onyx stairway.
Later, Barrison and Schiavon would go their separate ways.
Barrison’s later works would include the Rivoli Theater on Victoria Street (1921), the Monumento de los Caídos (Monument to fallen Italian heroes), the restoration of the San Juan Bosco School, the Hotel O’Higgins in Viña del Mar, the Carrera Theater in Quilpue, and numerous elegant homes in Viña del Mar and Recreo. He was buried at the Playa Ancha cemetery at the age of 87. His partner, Schiavon, was born in Pola in 1887. After meeting Barrison in Trieste, he decided to try his luck in Valparaíso. He worked as an artist for various newspapers and magazines. He married in the Italian Valparaíso community and became a professor of architecture at the Catholic University of Valparaíso. Schiavion’s major later works included the Banco de Chile on Prat Street, The Pompei Theater in Villa Alemana and the Municipal Theater of Viña del Mar. He passed away in 1945. Barrison and Schiavon will always be remembered for their priceless legacy in Valparaíso.
Artillery Passage to the Custom House
From the 21st of May Promenade the route extends down the stairway past noble, but dilapidated houses until arriving at Carampangue Street, which leads us to the Custom House. Carampangue Street was originally named “The Ravine of Juan Gómez” in honor of one of the city’s first police chiefs. In 1871, it was change to Carampangue in honor of a famous military battle. In one of these old houses Chile’s first professional soccer team, “Santiago Wanderers,” was founded in 1892. Why is called Valparaíso’s professional soccer team Santiago Wanderers? Simple. At the time of their founding, there was actually an amateur club team called Valparaíso Wanderers. That team has disappeared, and Santiago Wanderers of Valparaíso is now the deacon of Chilean soccer. The rout heads down Carampangue until Custom House Square, also known as Plaza Wheelwright in honor of the great Bostonian venture capitalist who financed the Chilean railroads and founded the mythical Pacific Team Navigation Company.
The Custom’s House, a national monument, constitutes a rare example of colonial architecture in the city. The most celebrated functionary was Rubén Darío, a great Nicaraguan Poet considered to be the father of modernism in Latin America. Darío rented an apartment off the Atkinson Promenade in Concepción Hill and wrote, in Valparaíso, the book “Azul” (blue), a masterpiece in Latin American literature.
From the Custom’s House, our route continues to via Bustamante Street, entering a neighborhood that once was known as Valparaíso’s “Chinatown.” Curiously, there is nothing Chinese about Chinatown in Valparaíso. Such a “politically incorrect” moniker actually refers to a zone historically associated with sailor bars and bordellos. The most famous bars included the now defunct American Bar and Roland Bar, often frequented by sailors, college students and Nobel laureates (Neruda). The only remaining bar echoing its forefathers today is the Flamingo Rose. Hungry? Try the Sethmacher Sausage Shop, a family business making homemade cured meats for more than 60 years.
This is the historic birthplace of Valparaíso and contains many notable buildings including the historic Market Place. The dilapidated marker offers cheap seafood for adventurous travelers. The more hygienic of these ma and pa eateries are located on the first floor and across the street, such as the “Marisquería Las Porteñas,” which at least offers some clean bathrooms and a bit more acceptable ambience for more conservative tourists.
Most buildings around the plaza date to the mid-19th century, including old emporiums and pharmacies that are worth a visit. The “Emporio Echaurren” is one of the most legendary old groceries in Valparaíso and has a fanatically faithful clientele that enables the owners to stock some fine premium wines and many European gourmet products that may, at first sight, seem out of place in such a working class neighborhood. Along the sidewalks, street vendors hawk cinnamon, oregano, paprika, and old fashioned stove toasters. Many of the stores in this neighborhood supply ships during their stays in the port of Valparaíso. As you gaze upon the bustle of this historic center, you will inevitably discover various eccentric personages such as the organ grinders or old ladies feeding the pigeons. It’s hard to imagine that what is now a chaotic urban center once was a sandy beach and that it was precisely in this spot 480 years ago, that the wooden schooner, Santiaguillo, captained by the Spanish explorer Juan de Saavedra, touched ground as the first European to set foot in what later would became Valparaíso.
The Church of the Matriz
A hundred or so meters behind the Echaurren Square stands the noble and stark steeple of the Church of the Matriz. The church and its tiny plaza serve as the gateway into the Santo Domingo Hill National Historic District, a labyrinthine hodgepodge of alleys, tiny pedestrian plazas, and almost vertical stairway with some exquisite old houses left among what is today one of Valparaíso poorest neighborhood. The most peaceful time to stroll in this neighborhood is early morning, especially Sunday, around mass at the church.
The Church of the Matriz, declared a national monument in 1971, is possibly Valparaíso’s most significant icon. The original version of the church was built in 1554 and in 1578 was sacked by the legendary corsair Sir Francis Drake. In 1615, it was sacked again by the Dutch pirate George Spilbergen. Earthquakes eventually did away with the church, obligating the community to erect a replica in the 17th century. That version too, was downed by earthquakes. In 1837, work began in the third version of the church, which remains in tact today. The finished church was originally baptized “Our Lady of Mercedes of Clear Port,” but later was changed to “The Parish of the Savour of the Matriz.” The austere elegance of the church contrast with its current use as a social center that attends to the poorest and neediest of Valparaíso’s impoverished.
Nonetheless, many Catholics from around Chile enjoy celebrating mass here, independent of their social standing, due to the quaint ambience and historic relevance of the parish. The neoclassical adobe facade with three doors and the octagon-shaped steeple of this church have become icons, not only in Valparaíso, but all over Chile. A row of quaint wood and adobe houses, with exquisite balustrades and balconies, complements the plaza and serves as the entrance into Santo Domingo Hill.
Inside the church, constructed in three naves, you can find an important 17th century Spanish caving, dating to the School of Seville and donated by the King of Spain. The sculpture was intended for a church in Santiago, but, as a legend has it, the Christ refused to leave the Church. When they finally got it out, the oxen refused to budge an inch to initiate the trip to Santiago. Neighbors considered this as a sign from God and the statue of the Christ has not been moved since. From the Church we continue down Santo Domingo Street toward a tiny plaza known as Santiago Severín. The beautiful Building on the corner originally belonged to the Company of Jesus, and in 1767 was transferred under the title Temple Santo Domingo. In this building civic leaders met to form the first town meeting, and in the first years after the Chilean Independence the building also served as meeting place for the provisional national congress. Several years ago, the building was taken over for use as a police station.
Looking back from the Plaza Severín toward the tower of the Church of the Matriz, the writer Augusto D’Halmar once wrote, “With its ancient gallery of stone, its old steeple, its cobbled streets and balconies, its pigeons and its bell tower, one almost feels as they are in Rome. Although when I was in Rome all I could think about was my old parish in Valparaíso.”
Photo: Courtesy of Apart Hotel La Matriz, www.visitvalparaiso.info
Santo Domingo Hill National Historic District
The climb up to Santo Domingo Hill can be done in car via Marquez Street or by foot on Echaurren Street. Both eventually lead to the Camino Cintura (Beltway). The climb by foot is one of the most surprising and fascinating in all Valparaíso, although one should be alert and accompanied. From the Severín Square we continue along to another small plaza called Santo Domingo. From the picturesque cobbled street we can detect numerous stairways taking off in every conceivable direction. The route guides you up the right stairway, toward Juvenal Street.
Juvenal is a small passage midway up this stairway. The alley is famous for the spectacular colonial house with wooden balconies constructed in such a way as to form a natural tunnel. Unconfirmed folklore has Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile’s first President and leader of the Battle of Independence, taking his summer vacations here. Regardless of the veracity of such lore, the house is beloved by photographers in all of Valparaíso.
For those who want to avoid the impeding climb, we recommend doubling back to the entrance to the Plazuela Santo Domingo, taking the first stairway to the left (Ulysses) until it empties out into Cajilla Street. This will save you half an hour and sore calf muscles.
But for the more adventurous climbers, we continue up the stair and turn uphill at Pueyredon Street, which is actually another picturesque alley. At this point, we are winding through some of the most startling vernacular architecture available in the city. When Pueyredon ends, we wind around the corner and start down the “Calle del Ministro.” The first thing we discover on our way down is the abandoned Santo Domingo Elevator. This is one of the 12 disappeared funiculars dispersed around the city and coming up it evokes so much melancholy and solitude that one sense they have stumbled upon an archeological ruin. The Calle del Ministro zigzags down among adobe houses toward the Plaza Santo Domingo, but the route veers off via Ulysses Street en route toward Toro and Cordillera Hills.
At the intersection of Ulyses and Cajilla Streets, the route doubles back toward Echaurren Square, but you may want to turn right and walk up Cajilla 2blocks to get a better view of the abandoned old elevator. If not, one of the first houses you’ll see features spectacular balconies and is registered to the architect Cabaude.
As we return to the Echaurren Square area, the route offers two interesting alternatives for scaling Cordillera Hill: by foot via Castillo Street or by funicular elevator via Serrano Street. Either way, you will arrive at a small plaza known as Eleuterio Ramirez. The funicular was built in 1888 and is the third oldest in the city.
The small plaza outside the upper station house is named after a Lieutenant who died in the Battle of Tarapacá in 1879. Victor Hugo and Merlet Streets feature wonderfully noble old buildings, including the old San José castle, known today as the Lord Cochrane Home, administered by city hall as a museum. From 1820-1860, these homes once housed some of Valparaíso’s most opulent families, such as the Purcells, yhe Zhars, the Peragallos, the Weigands, the Consiglieris, the Lunds, and the Frugones. Hence, today most of these homes are subdivided and sublet into tiny apartments.
The Lord Cochrane House
At the end of Merlet Street you will come upon the Lord Cochrane House. Originally, this was the San José Castle built in 1692. Later, it was destroyed. An English watchmaker, John Mouat, built his home, known as “the observatory,” on the same spot between 1840-1843. The current house features Chilean colonial architecture that differs markedly from other European homes in the port. This colonial style, featuring low adobe buildings with oak pillars, iron work on the windows, Spanish tile, and handsome inner patios, is typical of the haciendas in the Chilean countryside. The house’s most outstanding features probably the exquisite balcony with cannons overlooking the Sotomayor Square and the bay. The view is one of the best in all of Valparaíso. The house was built for the renegade British noble, Lord Cochrane, but the fact is the house was not finished when he was living in Valparaíso.
Continuing Up Castillo Street
The route continues up Castillo Street past facades much more impressive than those in Santo Domingo. The route then turn’s right toward Canal Street and the San Agustín Elevator, the least known funicular in Valparaíso. Nonetheless you may want to detour several more blocks up Castillo Street to take in two historic sights: The Capilla Santa Ana and the Workers Cooperative Building.The Capilla Santa Ana was built in 1882. Its tower was fallen in the earthquake of 1985. On the other side of the same block is fascinating Workers Cooperative Building, the first social housing project in Chile. The building was built in 1898 by one of Valparaíso’s leading philanthropists, Doña Juana Ross de Edwards. Accessed by a small entry on Castillo Street, visitors are welcome inside the central patio which shows evidence of structural damage of 5 earthquakes. Many families living here are direct descendants of the original families sponsored by Mrs. Ross. At this point, you can return to the San Agustin Funicular. You will end up on Tomás Ramos Street, quickly arrived at Justice Square.
|Torpederas to Artillery Hill|
|Summary: This attractive walk winds through historic Playa Ancha, home to several important universities, the Chilean navy, and some of the city’s most interesting architecture from the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.|
Estimated walking time: 90 minutes.
Degree of difficulty: Easy. There is a single uphill incline at the beginning of the route, climbing about two blocks from the sea level at Torpederas beach to the campus of Playa Ancha University. The rest of the walk is flat and relaxing.
Tourist infrastructure: At the end of the section, in the general area of the 21st of Mary Promenade, you’ll find a bustle of tourist vendors, street musicians, organ grinders, and artists selling water colors and craftwork. There are several cafes and restaurants, as well as public bathrooms. At the beginning, specifically around the two universities, you may find several soda fountains catering mostly to college kids. They lack amenities for modern tourists, but young backpackers may enjoy stopping in for a visit. If it’s necessary, you may be able to use the bathrooms at the University of Valparaíso or at the Playa Ancha University.
Our route begins at Torpederas Beach, on the Western extreme of Valparaíso, situated at the end of Altamirano Avenue. The road is named after Valparaíso’s regional governor in 1884. You can get here from the center of Valparaíso by taking any bus along Errázuriz Avenue (the closest street to the ocean) which says Torpederas or Cementerio Playa Ancha.
This area was Valparaíso’s principal beach resort, fancied particularly by English elites, until the 1930’s. Over the years, Torpederas started to degenerate because wealthier patrons abandoned the area for Viña del Mar, Reñaca, and Con Con. In the old days there was a spectacular cast iron trestle pier that resembled those of elite European resorts, but all of that is gone now. The word torpederas means “torpedo launcher.” The name evokes the presence of 6 old navy vessels -the Guale, the Quidora, the Janequeno, the Fresia, the Rucumilla, and the Sagent Aldea- all of which fought in the War of the Pacific, only to rest in berths along this side of the bay.
The area was originally a fishing wharf. Later the fashionable folks arrived in the early 1900’s, attracted by the spectacle of cliff divers practicing their craft while wealthy patrons sipped tea to a piano player sounding waltzes such as “The sleeping beauty of Antofagasta” and “The Terrance”
Playa Ancha Avenue
As you begin the hike up Playa Ancha Avenue, the first complex of buildings introduces you to the central theme of this area: the college town. Playa Ancha University and the University of Valparaíso are the principal protagonists. The Alejo Barrios Park, in front of Valparaíso Municipal Stadium (home to the mythical Wanderers soccer team), is used for numerous parades and celebrations, including the bacchanal associated with Chile’s 3 –day independence celebration in September.
Here you’ll find a beautiful building designed by the French architect A. Dublé in 1918 on the corner of General Holley Street. The house is painted violet with attractive bargeboard, balconies, and balustrades. Another house across the street signals the same intentions and begins to suggest the architectural prototypes that we will later find it the heart of Playa Ancha.
The Vacation Houses of Playa Ancha
In other times, this sector of Playa Ancha was place of celebration and relaxation. Vestiges of the past remain today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the area featured horse racing, cricket fields, and amateur soccer fields where people could celebrate the victories of their beloved “Wanderers”.
Several traditional vacation houses remain; including one entitled “New Mermaid” on Playa Ancha Street and General Holley. It is worthwhile dropping just to admire the old oak tables and shelves from 1918, displaying an impressive array of antique candy flasks and old wine bottles. The specialty of the house is the pork loin sandwich and the chorrillana, a feast of chopped beef, eggs, fried onions, and potatoes that forms the typical repast for college students and the nighttime bohemia of Valparaíso. The New Mermaid also features an attractive old Wurlitzer. The place tends to be packed during soccer games.
At the entrance to historic Gran Bretaña Street, you’ll find the Harrington Passageway, featuring a series of English–style constructions that helps define the neighborhood. The passage is named after the architect Esteban Orlando Harrington, born in Valparaíso in 1873. He was the son of an American, William Harrington, and his Chilean wife Protasia Arellando.
Harrington was the architect of several notable buildings in Valparaíso, including the old Hotel Royal, the Palace, the Luis Cousiño Building, and others. Most of these homes were built in the first years after the 1906 earthquake, specifically between 1908 and 1910.
Harrington’s trademark is handsome woodwork and ornate use of bargeboard which inspires the spectacular houses upcoming on Gran Bretaña Street. Tragically, Esteban Harrington was run over by a trolley in Valparaíso in 1936 at the age of 63. Almost 100 years later, these houses continue to surprise us with their elegance and charm. The last home on the left belonged to the architect himself, and may be the most attractive of the lot. It features a marble stairway, a full American style basement (unusual in Valparaíso) and delicate woodwork. The houses also have small gardens where you can glimpse lemon tree, laurel, jasmine, and Chilean papaya.
The Houses of Gran Bretaña Street
Gran Bretaña Street is one of the most famous in all Valparaíso. We first glimpse the Maipo Regiment, belonging to the Chilean Navy. In the same area you will find the Naval Geography Institute, where most of the country’s maps are made. Next, on Amunátegui Street, you’ll find one of the most interesting houses in the area. Painted cinnamon and ochre, this three-story house features more of the decorative bargeboard so characteristic of the finer houses in the area.
House number 761 was constructed by the architect Carlos Federico Claussen in 1904 by the petition of Don Einar Resenqvist, the consul of Norway during this period in Valparaíso. Since Einar had 5 children and 3 servants, he built a place big enough to house guest of the embassy. The house has 4 floors and 15-foot-high ceilings. Other notable works by Carlos Claussen in Valparaíso includes the Banco of Chile in the Almendral and the Valparaíso Stock Exchange.
In front of the Rosenqvist house, you’ll find a series of neo-gothic homes that reflect the best of Playa Ancha. Almost all were edified after the 1906 earthquake, with Douglass Fir, that came down in ships from the US west coast. Number 766 originally belonged to the Peruvian Santiago Sologuren and was built by Esteban Harrington himself.
The houses alongside were decorated with a Chilean wood called “lingue.” These row houses have come to symbolize the architecture of Playa Ancha with their characteristics towers known locally as “witch’s hats.” One of these homes, with delicate tones of gray and cerulean blue, originally belongs to a Dutch couple who has faithfully restored the home to its original style.
This street has some very singular wooden homes, easily distinguished by they guillotine windows. Earthquakes have shifted the street, causing the homes to settle and adapt.
Crossing Errázuriz Street you’ll find some imposing, but deteriorated homes. Then you arrive at Waddington Plaza. Joshua Waddington, born in York, was one of the wealthiest patrons of Valparaíso before his passing in 1873. He made a fortune in mining and shipping, possessing large swaths of land not only in Playa Ancha but also in Concepción Hill and the area now known as Avenida Argentina. Many of the family’s holdings were later donated to the city and converted into parks and plazas. This plaza was once home to a handsome theater, the Iris.
The route continues along a curve in Gran Bretaña, highlighted by a spectacular walnut tree, from which we can appreciate an interesting angle of the bay. This is one of the better places to glimpse the spectacular and unusual topography of Valparaíso. Many of the cobblestones in this area were brought from Norway in the 19th century in the same boats that brought Douglass Fir and the zinc covering for the typical houses of Valparaíso. When referring to this area, a porteño living in Paris once wrote: “I love that Valparaíso, which I have walked a thousand times and which every time a different city emerges. At times it seems a cubist vision, a collage of hills, houses, and sea. This is our city, contradictory, variable, strange, and elusive, but always beautiful.”
In front of this curve, we find a stairway named Capitan Whiteside. Who was Capitan Whiteside? We don’t know. We only know that Valparaíso has some stairways that seem to go round and round without taking you anywhere in particular.
The Home of the First Mayor
At the foot of this mysterious stair we find an Automobile Museum. At the house numbered 313 we find a gorgeous house with a stair-step garden. It possesses an ancient palm, a gallant entryway, a rich facade, and interesting balconies. The house was built in 1907 by the French architect Arturo Sthandier for the Gonzalez Canales family. Originally Luis Alberto Gonzalez worked for Tello and Gonzalez, an importer of European clothes and other French goods. In 1909, Mr. Gonzalez officially moves into the house with his family, about the time he was designated the first Mayor of Valparaíso.
The House of the “Gypsy” Rodriguez
On Mutilla 309, you’ll find the childhood home of Osvaldo Rodriguez Musso, poet, artist, songwriter and author of one of the Valparaíso most melancholy anthems, “Valparaíso,” a waltz that has come to symbolize the city. The house was frequently visited by artists and intellectuals, amongst them the great Violeta Parra. Located on the corner of Gran Bretaña and Taqueadero Street, the house leads to a stairway that opens into the gorgeous 21st of May Promenade, Valparaíso’s most famous public park. This is a back entrance into the park and an alternative for those who want to shortcut to the end of section 1.
In 1996, when “The Gypsy’s ashes were repatriated from Italy, a federation of college students left an honorary plaque that read:
“Whoever enters your poems will find you from head to toe
With your voice and your words and your native soil unearthed”
The lines are from the famed Argentinean novelist Julio Cortazar.
Past Taquedero Street
The stroll along Gran Bretaña Street continues past the intersection with Taquedero Street, the ravine that separates Playa Ancha from Artillery Hill. The name Taquedero refers to weapons tests that used to be conducted from the Navy’s War Academy on the hill. At Gran Bretaña 255, we find another mansion worthy of noting. The home was constructed in 1908 by the surgeon Rafael Viancos Polanco. The house was designed by the doctor’s son-in law, the French architect René Raveau. Tragically, his father-in law died a few years later and the family was forced to sell in 1913.
René Raveau was another significant architect in Valparaíso. He built the Union Building in Victory Square, a real gem, and the tower of the Sacred Hearts School, among others. Gran Bretaña Street ends at Artillery Street, which leads us to the spectacular 21st of May Promenade.
The houses along Artillery Street are a good example of the use of the undulating zinc facades had a characteristic patina that rusted with age. Others have been painted bright colors that fade over the years.
The 21st of May Promenade
This is the most visited of Valparaíso’s famous “paseos” or hilltop promenades. You’ll find a bustle of tourist vendors, street musicians, organ grinders, and artists selling water colors and craftwork. The Victorian style vantage point offers one of the best views of Valparaíso, and the 300-meter-esplanade, accompanied by jacaranda trees and lovely gardens, offers a spectacular view of the bustling commercial port, including cruise ships and the full spectrum of the horseshoe shaped bay all the way to Viña del Mar. In the old days, this was the pick up point for a trolley bus that took passengers around Playa Ancha. This is also a vantage point for two of Valparaíso’s 15 funicular elevators.
From the far side of the esplanade, you can make out the Villaseca elevator, built in 1907, with its elevated rail structure rising over Antonio Varas Street. If you look carefully, you can see the elderly flagman waving cars through and around the blind curves. To the right of the esplanade, the Artillery Hill Funicular takes you down to Wheelwright Square and the Port of Valparaíso. Behind this splendid setting rises the old Naval School, today converted into a fine Naval Museum. The museum houses important relics of Chile’s military and maritime heritage including sections of the original Esmeralda rescued from the Battle of Iquique (the historic battle in the War of the Pacific to which this beautiful park owns its name)
Just down the hill from the funicular, you’ll find one of Valparaíso’s most lovely Victorian homes. This was the home of the writer Victor Domingo Silva, winner of Chile’s national literature prize in 1954. He shared the home for a brief time with another noted writer, the poet Carlos Pezoa Véliz, who died tragically soon after the earthquake of 1906.