Santiago is a large and modern capital city of over five million people that sprawls across the wide fertile Central Valley plains with the majestic towering snow-capped Andes as a spectacular backdrop. There is an energy and vibrancy about downtown Santiago which is one of the safest and cleanest of all South American cities and has a number of bustling central plazas, fashionable shopping streets and a number of beautifully landscaped parks that stretch not only along the river, but close to the heart of the city.
• Hike to the top of San Cristobal Hill for stunning views of the Andes
• Wander around the courtyards of the beautiful Moneda Palace
• Enjoy 7000 hectares of Chile’s finest skiing at Valle Nevado
•Try a sensational fish stew at the historic Mercado Central
• Glimpse into Pablo Neruda’s romantic retreat at La Chascona
The Plaza de Armas dates back to the founding of the city in the 16th Century and has remained the symbolic heart of the city ever since. This beautiful plaza is also home to the 18th Century colonial cathedral, the Correo Central, palaces and pretty flower gardens whilst all about you are the faces of modern Chile with street performers, singers, old men playing chess, tourists, workers on their lunch break relaxing by the fountain – a perfect place to people-watch and soak up the flavour of the city.
Not far from the Plaza de Armas is the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, which is housed in the former Royal Customs House that dates back to 1807 and has recently been beautifully restored. The permanent exhibition is a vast display of pre-colonial artefacts covering ten thousand years of the continent’s artistic and cultural development.
The Palacio de le Moneda on the Plaza de la Constitucion is another of the city’s finest neo-classical buildings and built at the end of the 18th Century by the celebrated Italian architect Joaquin Toesca. Initially used as the Royal Mint, it later became the palace for the presidents of Chile up until 1958 and is now still the official seat of government with the inevitable and colourful changing of the guard ceremony. Other imposing civic buildings include the striking white old National Congress building and the Supreme Court.
Its superb location at the foot of the Andes is perfectly located for easy access to the best ski resorts in South America. Also, surrounded by fertile plains which are ideal for wine production, there are a number of wonderful vineyards within an hour or two’s drive of Santiago where you can stay for a few nights and see how the wine is produced and inevitably sample some that fabulous produce!