Need Tour at Cathedral Metropolitan
Alejandro Gonzalez to host a free tour this thursday!
Tour includes: translator/expert in the history of the field
About the tour!
A group of public buildings have been swapping locations on the north side of the Plaza de Armas since the 16th century as a result of successive earthquake devastation. Bordering Calle Rosas is the Correo Central or Central Post Office, standing at the former site of the city governors’ residence. This eye-catching building was made using the remnants of a previous construction and adding a façade and roof with a dissonant rococo style. Further down Calle Rosas is the Cuartel de Bomberos, headquarters of the city’s oldest Fire Brigade and the first ever public building in the capital to incorporate private commercial outlets in an effort to generate a more stable income for the firemen, who continue to serve on a voluntary basis even today. At the eastern end of the plaza stands the Municipalidad de Santiago or City Hall for the municipal authority of Santiago Centro. On its doorstep stands the equestrian statue of Pedro de Valdivia, founder of Santiago and top figure of country’s early colonial history. Squeezed between the Correo and the Municipalidad is the clock towered Real Audiencia, which these days houses the Museo Histórico Nacional, displaying a range of archaeological collections, paintings, artefacts and a random assembly of objects that attempt to eloquently narrate the complexities of Chilean history. It may not be the most exhilarating museum of the capital, but you shouldn’t dismiss it too quickly either. There are curious pieces to be seen, and if Spanish American colonial history happens to be your thing, this museum could be an unexpected treat.
Facing the Plaza from the south is the cheap and cheerful Portal Fernández Concha, a kasbah of eateries and quick snack shops with few delicacies to be found, but with stacks of chatty waiters and friendly regulars. Stretching out of the Plaza de Armas in direction of the Alameda are two pedestrian walks, the Paseo Ahumada, Santiago’s unrivaled main drag and Paseo Estado, a less iconic version of the Ahumada, but almost identically busy. The Paseo Ahumada, like the Plaza de Armas, has endured controversial transformations in recent years; the fountains that used to beautify it were placed elsewhere and its original cobblestones were removed in favour of modern paving stones. But you’ll find it hard to even notice this because you’ll be struck by the sheer amount of people that parade on this street at any time of the day. Raising your head above the crowds, you’ll realize that the Paseo Ahumada has some truly beautiful architecture as well as its fair share of modern eyesores. If it all becomes a little too much for you, take cover in one of the hundreds of Galerías (arcades) that crisscross the busy streets, which create something of a parallel network of thoroughfares. You can enjoy a delightful view of some of their decadent ornamentation before resurfacing on the streets of the pulsating centro histórico.