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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Chile > Santiago

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Things to see in Santiago

Attractions

Iglesia de San Francisco (Church of St Francis)

Just off Santiago's hectic main thoroughfare, the thick walls of the Iglesia de San Francisco, with the adjacent Franciscan Monastery, provide a peaceful haven from the downtown traffic. The church was originally built in the late 16th century by Chile's conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, and it has survived regular earthquakes (although its tower has gone through several incarnations). It is one of Santiago's oldest buildings and the adjacent former monastery houses the Museo Colonial San Francisco (Colonial Museum of St Francis), which contains a collection of ecclesiastical art dating from the colonial era.

Address: , Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2638 3238
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 1100-1300 and 1500-1800, Sun 1000-1300.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art)

This museum is closed until late 2013 to undergo an extensive expansion project adding 1,000 square metres of space and increasing the exhibition space by 70 per cent. When it opens again it will improve on its world-class collection of artefacts from Latin America's pre-Hispanic civilisations. Located in a handsome colonial building, the Palacio de la Real Aduana (Royal Customs House), it exhibits intricately crafted artwork in ceramics, metals, textiles and wood. Tastefully presented and meticulously cared for, the items on show give a unique insight into the lost cultures of the Maya, Aztecs, Incas and other groups which once dominated this vast continent.

Address: , Bandera 361, Santiago,
Telephone: +56 2928 1500.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1000-1800.

Website: http://www.precolombino.cl
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Palacio de la Moneda (Moneda Palace)

Once the official mint, la Moneda became the presidential residence in 1846. While Chile's head of state no longer lives on site, the building's presidential offices are still used. The bombing of Moneda Palace by air force jets during General Augusto Pinochet's coup against Salvador Allende's Marxist government in 1973 remains an enduring image of the 20th century. Allende took his own life in this building with a gun given to him, according to local legend, by Fidel Castro. Visitors can stroll along the courtyard that runs through the middle of the building, and can arrange to visit the interior with an advance booking. On the south side of the Moneda Palace, on (or rather under) Plaza de la Ciudadanía, is the modern Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda, which has a series of exhibition spaces and some first-rate exhibitions. There is also an excellent shop selling traditional Chilean handicrafts.

Address: , Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins (Alameda), Santiago, ,
Telephone: +562 22690 4000.
Opening times:

Tours need to be arranged in advance.

Website: http://www.gobiernodechile.cl/la-moneda
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Plaza de Armas (Arms Square)

Since colonial times, Santiago's focus has been its spacious main square, the Plaza de Armas. Surrounded by grand colonial public buildings, most notably the Metropolitan Cathedral and the ornate Correos Central (central post office), it acts as a haven from Santiago's often oppressive traffic. A central corral of Chilean palm trees shades courting couples, vendors and tourists. Local artists display their latest canvasses and on weekday evenings the square is the scene of a thriving Santiago institution when locals set up trestle tables and pit their wits against each other in fiercely contested chess matches.

Address: , Plaza de Armas, Santiago, ,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Cementerio General

Until recently, this has been one of Santiago's hidden treasures, but it is now growing in popularity. This is no ordinary burial ground, more a mini-metropolis of extraordinary tombs. Some are extravagant, some are beautiful, almost all are striking in one way or another. It's also of great historical interest – several leading politicians are buried here, including Salvador Allende, and there is a memorial to all those who disappeared during the Pinochet years. As a necropolis, it rivals those in Buenos Aires.

Address: , Profesor Alberto Zañartu 951, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2637 7800.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1730.

Website: http://www.cementeriogeneral.cl
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Parque Por La Paz Villa Grimaldi (Peace Park)

Villa Grimaldi, the former headquarters of General Pinochet's notorious secret police force, reopened in 1997 under a new guise as a memorial park to the victims of Chile's military dictatorship. An estimated 5,000 political prisoners were detained and tortured here between the 1973 military coup and 1987 – and 226 of these 'disappeared'. The park opened in March 1997, marking a crucial step in Chile's reconciliation with its bloody past, and was the first government-sanctioned memorial to Pinochet's victims. It houses an oral archive, a museum that provides context for place and to promote human rights. There's also a wide programme of guided and self-guided tours.

Address: , José Arrieta 8200, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2292 5229.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1800.

Website: http://www.villagrimaldi.cl
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)

This fine arts museum, housed in a turn-of-the-century copy of Paris' Petit Palais, shows the city's aspirations to lift itself out of the cultural wilderness. It occupies an entire block in the Parque Forestal area and has Chile's best collection of painting and sculpture. It regularly hosts exhibitions by contemporary artists from Chile and abroad. Perhaps the most interesting displays are from the early colonial artists charting the growth of the modern nation. There's a comprehensive programme of temporary exhibitions. Recent exhibitions have included retrospectives of Guillermo Brozález and Celia Castro. It's also worth checking the website for the concerts it hosts.

Address: , Parque Forestal, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2249 91600.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1100-1845.

Website: http://www.mnba.cl
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo Casa La Chascona (La Chascona House Museum)

Nobel-Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda's Santiago pied-à-terre is situated in the lively Bellavista neighbourhood. He built the house himself for a lover and also hosted his distinguished friends including the Mexican artist Diego Riviera there. A series of small buildings, rather than a single house, La Chascona has been meticulously restored since it was vandalised by supporters of General Pinochet and now houses a collection of Neruda's possessions. Visitors are taken on a guided tour (Spanish, English or French) through the house, where the history behind the furniture and possessions is explained – there's no self guided tour. The Fundacion Neruda also look after the marvellous nautically-themed for home of the poet Isla Negra in El Quisco on the sea and La Sebastiana in Valparaíso.

Address: , Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2777 8741.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1000-1800 (Mar-Dec); Tues-Sun 1000-1900 (Jan-Feb).

Website: http://www.fundacionneruda.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo Histórico Nacional (National History Museum)

The colonial Palacio de la Real Audiencia houses the absorbing Museo Histórico Nacional, which has a fine series of chronological exhibits on Chile's development from the colonial period through to independence and the modern era, ending abruptly with the military coup in 1973. There is a small exhibit on Chile's indigenous culture. In addition to the permanent exhibitions it also plays host to temporary exhibitions, concerts and workshops. Guided visits are available throughout the day and if you have children it's worth joining one. Even if their Spanish isn't up to much, they'll enjoy dressing up. An excellent destination.

Address: , Plaza de Armas, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2411 7010.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1000-1800.

Website: http://www.museohistoriconacional.cl
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (Salvador Allende Museum of Solidarity)

This museum, which has changed locations several times in recent years, houses works of art donated by artists from around the world. The collection began in 1971 when a group of artists and thinkers decided to bring together contemporary works of art to show their sympathy with the socialist policies of the Salvador Allende government. During Pinochet's military dictatorship, exiled artists continued the project and the collection now includes donations by artists from over 39 countries such as Joan Miró, Roberto Matta, Antonio Saura and Yoko Ono. From the 500 works gathered by 1973, there are now more than 2,650. There's also a brilliant programme of temporary exhibitions across all media.

Address: , Avenida República 475, Santiago,
Telephone: +562 2689 8761.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1000-1800.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Tourist Offices

Servicio Nacional de Turismo - SERNATUR (National Tourism Board)

Address: , Avenida Providencia 1550, Santiago,
Telephone: +56 227 318 336.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1400.

Website: http://www.sernatur.cl

SERNATUR has another office in the arrivals hall of the airport's international terminal and in the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral located on 227 Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins.

Oficina de Turismo Municipalidad de Santiago (Santiago Tourist Office)

Address: , Plaza de Armas 2, Santiago,
Telephone: +56 2 2713 6745.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat-Sun 1000-1600.

Website: http://www.municipalidaddesantiago.cl

The tourist board has another office in the arrivals hall of the airport's international terminal.

Featured Hotels

SEE MORE

W Santiago

Starwood Hotel's W chain has landed in Santiago, with a blaze of imaginative lighting, colourful fittings and quirky furnishings. Compared with many of the W hotels around the world, this is tempered slightly by Chile's conservative tastes – no bad thing. The 168 rooms are well appointed. The level of service is unsurprisingly high. The rooftop pool is an interesting place to spend a few hours relaxing, and the bar is excellent.

Hotel Foresta

This beautifully located hotel (right by Cerro Santa Lucía) has been around for a while. It has kept its old style, which means it is chock full of character, although sometimes this spills over into a slightly cluttered feel. However, the service is very attentive and with the arty district of Lastarria right next door, it is one of the best and most affordable options in town.

Ritz Carlton

Setting the standard for hotel opulence in Santiago, this is where the service is impeccable, Egyptian sheets adorn your bed and there is just about every luxury you could possibly desire within the hotel's walls. Gyms, swimming pools, three restaurants and an internationally renowned sommelier are all available to those lucky enough to stay here.

Happy House Hostel

A superb, ambitious renovation makes this colourful converted Barrio Brasil mansion the place to head to satisfy your old bohemian instincts - even though you now have more cash in your pockets. With everything from a games room to a delightful patio with views right over the city, this lovely relaxed place is for former backpackers who can afford to indulge themselves a bit more.

Hotel Plaza San Francisco

This smart hotel has gleaming wood panels and courteous staff. Comfortable (sometimes luxurious) and efficient, it has a central location particularly convenient for business professionals. It is located on Santiago's busiest road, but the hotel's double-glazing shields the guests from noise.

NOI Vitacura

Overlooking the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, NOI Vitacura provides a sanctuary from the urban bustle of the capital. This sleek high-rise hotel oozes style through its contemporary design and sophisticated suites. The rooftop terrace offers a late night bar, pool and unbeatable views of the Andes on a clear day.