Santiago greeted us with a beautiful, sunny, 72 degree day – perfect for our self-styled walking tour. We were staying in Barrio Brasil at La Casa Roja – an old mansion turned hostel. Barrio Brasil is just off of downtown, which made it the perfect location to start our walk. We passed through the central business district, with its pedestrian streets and kiosks selling snacks and philosophy books, on our way to the other famous barrios of Santiago.
We ran into Plaza Moneda, the location of the presidential palace, or La Moneda. We looked on as a protest took place. We didn’t yet know that this was a major site of the 1973 military coup.
From the downtown we headed toward Bella Vista, one of Santiago’s most popular neighborhoods. Just before reaching this barrio is the National Museum of Fine Art, where the collection of sculpture particularly moved and intrigued us.
From the Art Museum we headed to San Cristobal Hill, which took up an enormous green area on our tourist map. The hill is extremely steep, so we took the San Cristobal “Funicular” up instead. The Funicular begins and ends in matching castles at the top and bottom of the hill – with one intermediate stop at the Santiago Zoo.
When we got off the tram, we could see the true expanse of Santiago. Seventy-five percent of Chile’s population lives in cities – and Santiago is by far the largest. The view was amazing.
Looking up, we could see the Chilean flag with the statue of the Virgin Mary behind it. We weren’t at the top yet!
The path to the top wound through gardens and various sections of an enormous outdoor church, including an outdoor altar and amphitheater. Finally, we reached the Virgin Mary.
The Funicular was less crowded on the way down. This old-timey tram made me a little nervous in all its Industrial Revolution glory. Can you spot my anxious grip on the rail post? Will loved it.
On the way back to La Casa Roja, we took particular notice of the street art in Barrio Bella Vista. Here are some of our favorites.
Our one day walking tour in Santiago was blessed with beautiful weather for exploring. A quick recap of the the highlights: the National Museum of Fine Arts, San Cristobal Hill, and street art in Bella Vista.
Santiago is a complex, intellectual, passionate, and reserved city. It leaves you wanting to know more about it, and feeling completely at home at the same time. I would go back any day.