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Things to do in Chile

  • La Chascona (Pablo Neruda's Home) La Chascona (Pablo Neruda' Home) Santiago, Chile
    Pablo Neruda was the pen name of Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, a famous Chilean writer and politician, who would eventually change his name legally to Neruda. Pablo's works were translated in numerous languages, and many consider him to be the best and most influential poet of the 20th century. He picked the pen name to honor the famous Czech poet Jan Neruda, since he himself was an accomplished poet in many styles; that included erotic love poems, historical epics, surrealist poems and political manifestos. In 1971, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Colombian novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez considered him to be the best poet of the 20th century in any language. In July, 1945, he would read to 100,000 people in honor of the communist revolutionary leader Luis Carlos Prestes, at Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. During his life, he would hold many diplomatic positions and for a period as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. President Gonzalez Videla, a conservative and the president elect, outlawed communism in Chile in 1948, Neruda had a warrant issued for his arrest. He was hid by friends for many months in the cellar in the port city of Valparaiso, and then escaped into a mountain pass by Maihue Lake and then made it to Argentina. Many years afterwards, he would become the close collaborator of the socialist President Salvador Allende, and after accepting his Nobel Prize, he came back to Chile, with Allende asking him to read at the Estadio Nacional in front of 70,000 people. Pablo was put in the hospital with cancer, when Chile had a coup by Augusto Pinochet; and passed away three days later. Since he was already a famous figure in the world of poetry, when he passed, it was a death heard around the world. Pinochet said that a public funeral would be difficult, so thousands of his fans went into the streets and disregarded his curfew.  Neftali was born in Parral, over a 1000 miles south of Santiago, but his mother, Rosa Basoalto passed away when he was two months old. His father, Jose del Carmen Reyes Morales worked for the railroad, and after Rosa died, they went to Temuco, where Jose married Trinidad Candia Marverde, who Jose had had a child with nine years before, named Rodolfo. Neftali was his mother's middle name, and as he grew up, he would be with his half-sister Laura, another woman's child that Jose had been with. Jose didn't care for his son's writing, but he did get encouragement from those around him, like the future Nobel Prize winner, Gabriela Mistral, who was the headmistress of the local girls school. He published his first article for the local paper, La Manana, when he was just 13, calling it, "Enthusiasm and Perseverance". By 1920, when he was 16, Neftali changed his name to Pablo Neruda, having by now published works in poetry, prose and journalism. He picked the name for various reasons like it was happening at the time, his father's dislike for the profession and he could become anonymous. He picked Neruda from the Czech poet and his Pablo from Paul Verlaine. In 1921, he moved to Santiago, to study French at the Universidad de Chile, hoping to become a teacher, like his mother, but he slowly slid into a writer's career. In 1923, his first book of verse, Crepusculario or Book of Twilights would be published and the next year published Veinte poemas de maor y una cancion desesperada, or "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair". The poems became controversial because of the heavy use of eroticism, especially since he was only 19, although they would be widely acclaimed and translated in numerous languages. Over the decades, the poems book would sell millions of copies and be his best work. His reputation was exploding within the country and without, but he still was living in poverty. He took an honorary consulship in Rangoon in 1927, which was part of Burma and someplace he had never heard of. He later worked in Colombo (Ceylon), Batavia (Java) and Singapore. While he was living in Java, he met and married a tall Dutch bank worker named Maryka Antonieta Hagenaar Vogelzang, all the time reading huge quantities of poetry and started experimenting with his own style. He would then write the first two volumes of Residencia En La Tierra, that contained numerous surrealistic poems.  During his last years alive, he would be nominated for the Presidency of Chile, in 1970, but he decided to give his support to Salvador Allende, who won and became the first democratically elected socialist head of state. Allende would later make Pablo the Chilean ambassador to France, but he had to come back to Chile two and a half years later because he was in bad health. In 1971, Pablo was finally awarded the Nobel Prize, after chasing it for decades, although it was a hard decision for the judges who hadn't forgotten his past praise of Stalin and his dictatorship. His Swedish translator, Artur Lundkvist, helped as much as was possible to get the poet his prize.

  • Plaza de Armas
    The Plaza de Armas is the main plaza in Santiago, Chile, that has many beautiful statues and monuments that symbolize the country's cultural history, and where the majority of the important buildings have been constructed. These include the governor's house, the main church, the Royal Audience and El Cabildo. The foremost religious festivals are held here each year, along with many national gatherings. The Correo Central, or main post office is located along the plaza, the Portal Fernandez Concha, that has been a major commerce center that was constructed in the 19th century. It is where many of the city's best restaurants are located, along with numerous boutiques, shops and other types of stores. The Santiago town hall is on one side; but the main attraction that can be seen over all the others is the Metropolitan Cathedral that was built in the 18th century, with Sagrario and the Arzobispado structures that are commercial in nature. It has been redesigned a few times, although the park and many benches are located for the people to sit and relax at lunchtime or any other time just to view the people walking around and shopping. The plaza has a few museums in between the many sidewalk cafes, that keeps the area constantly hustling and bustling. There is a wonderful pedestrian walkway called the Paseo Ahumada, and some ways off is the Paseo Huerfanos that have more restaurants and stores, but no vehicles are allowed here, so the flow of the pedestrians is constant and steady. The scenery is so beautiful, with the snow capped mountains behind the city, as a backdrop, and most people come here to photograph the magnificent architecture and the beautiful people that walk by. The people are very friendly, and when they learn where you are from will make an extra effort to make you feel at home in their great country.

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Local Restaurants in Chile >
  • Basko Delicias del Mar
    This restaurant in Vina de Mar, Chile is known for its romantic atmosphere, and the menus that include everything from appetizers to drinks; with the Basko Delicias del Mar offering three variations depending on the price you choose to pay. The service is excellent and attentive, with all the ingredients needed for a romantic getaway. First menu is; appetizer, pisco sour, pod or Kir Royal; Next course, assorted seafood and clam cream crepes with ham and gruyere; Main course, Pippin Lazano vinamarinos or crab or the Mushroom Steak; Accompaniment, salad & potato gratin; Dessert, Baska apple or raspberry cheese cake or Flan de Tres Leches; Wine and Drinks, Carmenere wines and Vignier Vina Sutil, served at the pleasure, be more or mineral bida; Hot teas, express coffee, tea or herbal water; Open Bar, champagne, Araucanian, Amaretto. Second menu or special menu; appetizer, champagne, Pisco sour, Pod or Kir Royal; Next course, crepes with ham, mushrooms and gruyere, breaded crab claws salmon carpaccio; Main course, Vinamarinos Pippin, Rosita salmon or Filet Novillo; Accompaniment, salad & potato gratin; Dessert, Baska apple, raspberry cheese cake or cognac figs; Wine and Drinks, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines of Vina Santa Ema, served at your leisure, more drink or mineral; Hot teas, express coffee, herbal tea or water; Open Bar, champagne, mint, amaretto, Araucanian, Pisco, Monzanilla. Third or top menu; appetizer, champagne, Pisco sour, Caipirinha, Pod, Kir Royal, Ballantine's, hors d'oeuvre; Next course, Serrano ham fruit gratin of Locos Machas; Main course, albacore, capers, Conger of Basko or fillet Novillo; Accompaniment, a la carte; Dessert, a la carte; Wine and Drinks, Santa Ema Merlot reserve and Leyda sauvignon blanc, chardonnay William Cole, drink or mineral, placer served; Hot Infusion, express, herbal tea or water; Open Bar, champagne, Ballantine's whiskey or Bailey's Cream.


Mushroom Steak Basko Delicias del Mar Vina Del Mar, Chile


Salmon Carpaccio Basko Delicias del Mar Vina Del Mar, Chile


Fillet Novillo Basko Delicias del Mar Vina Del Mar, Chile

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  • Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino) Museum of Pre-Colombian Art Santiago, Chile
    In the 1970s, Sergio Larrain Garcia-Moreno began to realize that his collection was very important and in dire need of a permanent home for his collection that would preserve and care for it. He started by contacting the local universities and the government, in hopes that he could donate his collection to one of the institutions that were their direction. Sergio's only response came from Santiago mayor, Patricio Mekis, who enthusiastly started looking for a building to house the collection. In the meantime, Sergio contacted a lawyer, named Julio Phillipi, who could create a legal framework that would set up a viable institution that would protect the museum's relics and their integrity, essentially setting up a foundation that would guarantee a future for the works, as long as they continued to honor his guidelines and principles. The Fundacion Familia Larrain Echenique was created, so that the family, and not Sergio himself, would become the donor in order to create a museum for their study, public exhibition and conservation. Working with the city, the foundation let them find a suitable location to house the collection, and the city would be responsible for the care, management and operating expenses of the museum. With this agreement settled, the museum opened in 1981. In the permanent collection, there are categories that contain various media of art, like the Mesoamerican Hall, southern Andes region, central Andes region, Caribbean, Amazonian and Intermediate. Within these categories there are many different types of artworks, that include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, works on paper and others. In the Mesoamerican Hall, there are stone statues from Costa Rica, a pedestal condenser, The Gran Nicoya, jade and the prestige, the ball game, stonework from western Mexico, women and fertility of the land, shamanism in Mesoamerica, Mesoamerican works, shamanism in Mesoamerica, civilization in central Mexico, warrior king, standing people, the faces of Mesoamerican art, the Olmec: origin of the civilization, companions in death, the Xipe totec cult, the sun god in the world of the dead, and men and women in Mesoamerican art.

  • Red House (Casa Colorada)
    The Casa Colorada is called the red house, and is made of ashlar stone, with beech beams, that the roof sat on, plus the mezzanine used canelo wood, and the framework is bamboo, with Joseph de la Vega building the house, in 1769. It was the home of Mateo de Toro y Zambrano, until it became part of the city's responsibility, with numerous collections coming here to be housed, as well as scale models of the colony and the life of the people living there. The Chilean Declaration of Independence was signed here in 1810, and it is still unique with its stone covered courtyard, brick facade and two stories. The courtyard was the first of successive backyards, one is paved, another is a walking trail and another is which ever way you choose to go. The main central area in the courtyard is the area where the family did their business or commercial activities, that also had a cuadra and lobby, as well as a rest, all separated by a patio that would be used for both public and private areas. The interior courtyard contains beautiful ornate vines of flowers, trees and corridors.

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  • Palacio CousinoPalacio Cousino Santiago, Chile
    The Cousino Palace was constructed between 1870 and 1878 by French architect Paul Lathoud for Dona Isidora Goyenechea, the widow of Louis Cousino, who was a rich mine owner. His family owned the mines of Lota, which was coal, Chanarcillo, silver and Vina Cousino-Macul, that still is owned by the family. In 1940, however, the palace was in default on its debts and had to be sold at auction. When the first round of bidding was over, the mayor, Pacheo Sty, came to the family offering to purchase the mansion for the city, which would then use it for distinguished visitors to the city when they held their 400th anniversary. The price was $3 million which seemed a small price to pay for the magnificent mansion and all its land and belongings. The palace was used for important guests of the city until 1982, when a fire broke out on the second floor during one of its gala functions. It thus kept Queen Elizabeth II from coming to the city which she had done every year. The mayor of Santiago, Patricio Mekis opened it as a museum in 1977, and in 1981, declared it a national monument. The first floor had 12 rooms, that were used for various functions, the Golden Hall for the ballroom, the music room with its original grand piano, the Hall of Receipt, the Grand Dining Room, the Tea Room, the Central Hall, the Hall of Arms and an art gallery. The furnishings had been brought over from France by ship, and consisted of such luxuries as velvets, hand carved walnut, brocades, Serves porcelain, mahogany, ebony, American oak, German hand embroidered curtains, Limoges and Maissen, paquet furniture and Italian majolica ceramics for the floors and many walls.

  • Museo de Artes Visuales
    The MAVI opened in 2001, and contains a wonderful collection of over 1400 artworks, that represent the art of Chile, from the 1960s up to the present, that includes prints, photography, paintings, drawings and sculpture that represent the works of over 400 artisans. The paintings are represented by such notable artists as; Cristian Abelli, Fernando Allende, Ernesto Banderas, Augusto Barcia, Ciro Beltran, Ruperto Cadiz, Ximena Cristi, Pablo Domingeuz, Omar Gatica, Sandrea Guiloff, Claudia Kemper, Jose Ignacio Leon, Catherine Prado, Raul Sotomayor, Patricia Valle, Ulrich Welss and many others. Sculptures include works by Sergio Ceron, Carlos Frenandez, Soledad Omenaca, Osvaldo Pena, Paula Rubio, Rosa Velasco and more.  The expositions going on right now include; Beuys and Beyond-The Teaching as Art and This and Lightning: Gonzalo Rojas. 

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  • National Museum of HistoryNational Museum of History Santiago, Chile
    The National Museum of Natural History is one of the three national museums that can be found in the nation of Chile, the other two being the Museum of Fine Arts and the National History Museum. It is located in Quinta Normal, an area of Santiago, Chile, and is one of the oldest museums in the Americas, starting in September, 1830, by the French naturalist Claudio Gay, and commissioned by the government. The original concept was to contain the artifacts and records of the biology and geography of the country, but with a concentration of the mineral and crop resources. In 1889, the museum established departments of mineralogy, botany and zoology, with the National Museum Bulletin being published in 1908, and today is known as the Bulletin of the National Museum of Natural History. There were massive earthquakes in 1906, and April 1927 that damaged the museum extensively, but have since been repaired as can be seen by the photo to the right. The museum houses 12 permanent exhibits, that include; the uses of copper, that contains a collection of Codelco, the country's mining corporation; the biogeography of the nation, set in a long tunnel that almost fills the entire first floor; cultural anthropology, that spans the Mapuche, Selk'nam, Yamana, Kaweshar, Ayomara and Rapanui, and holds the best public collection of rongorongo artifacts in the world; interactive children's games for terrestrial ecosystems; Juan Fernandez Islands; the Central Hall exhibits, that include a spectacular 40 foot skeleton of a blue whale; Chilean archaeology, minerals, that contain much information about the nitrate boom of the early 20th century; Chilean timber; insects that include huge fossil dragonflies; Mesozoic era vertebrates, that have a specimen of Carnotaurus sastrei and mollusks. There are four departments in the museum now, the paleontology, zoology, anthropology and botany. The botany section contains a herbarium of 3700 specimens that date from 1830, and almost 90% of the specimens of Chile are housed here. The zoology section houses 14 holotypes, that are a majority of Chilean freshwater fish and marine fish. The anthropological section highlights the archaeology of Central Chile through the Inca Empire, that include the relics of modern or recently extinct peoples of Easter Island and Chile; and it is here that the Plomo mummy is laid.

  • Enchanted Valley (Valle del Encanto)
    The Petroglyphs of Valle del Encanto is just outside of La Serena, Chile, and has been an archaeological site for many years. It is more like a ravine, with an underground river coming up to the surface and in the centuries before probably was an oasis of considerable value, in this sub-desert region. It is believed to have people living here during the 2nd to the 7th CE. by a people called La Cultura Molle; which is thought to be the ones that carved these magnificent images into the rocks and boulders. There are a great number of petroglyphs, tacit rocks and some pictograms. Among the petroglyphs, there seem to be three distinct types of drawings; round headed figures with headdresses, square headed figures and various designs. The tacit rocks are slabs of stone that have had holes drilled in them that may have been used for grinding corn or other grains, and the pictograms were painted in red or orange hues that highlighted the activities of people, water and serpents.

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  • Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of ValparaisoHistoric Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso, Chile
    Valparaiso, in Spanish means Paradise Valley, and is called Valpo in the city, which is located in central Chile, and is one of the most important seaports in the nations; as well as becoming one of the most important cultural centers in the Pacific southwest. It is the capital city of Valparaiso region, and even though Santiago is the official capital, Valparaiso has the National Congress housed here. The city has played a prominent geopolitical part during the second half of the 19th century, when it was a main stopover for the ships that would travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans going through the Straits of Magellan. It appears to be one of the favorite destinations for Europeans, and the city has grown during its golden age, as the city became known by its international sailors as the Little San Francisco and the Jewel of the Pacific. Some highlights of its past glory days, it contains Latin America's oldest stock exchange, the first fire department in the South American continent, the nation's first library, and the oldest Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication in the world. When the Panama Canal opened, the city saw a drastic loss of shipping, and trade, that was a difficult event for the city, but has been coming back through a renaissance in the last few decades. It was named a World Heritage Site because of its urban design and special architecture. In 1996, the World Monuments Fund stated that the city unique system of funicular elevators, or really steep cable cars, one of the world's 100 most endangered historical treasures, and in 1998, the Chilean government was convinced to apply for the special UNESCO status for the city. It was made a World Heritage Site in 2003, due to the historical importance, the magnificent natural beauty, which included the marvelous hills that surround the beautiful harbor and very unique architecture; with a great mix of 19th century types of buildings. The city was constructed on dozens of steep hills that look out onto the Pacific Ocean and a marvelous harbor. The city is home to a great labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleys that pertain to a wonderful architectural and cultural legacy.  There are almost a dozen landmarks that showcase the city and its glorious history, full of magnificent architecture, and variations of structures that have disappeared in many countries of Spanish origin. The many statues and monuments that line the plazas and streets have been here for centuries and are great to see and take pictures of. There are many older homes that have been converted to museums, and some of the these awesome mansions feature many works of art that have been hidden here for centuries. The city has almost 50 international cruise ships coming here every summer for four months, and still is a wonderful center for trade and shipping.

  • Fonck Museum
    In the latter 1800s, Dr. Francisco Fonck Foveaux, a German doctor, came to South America to practice medicine, and while he was here, he traveled a lot through the area, going into Patagonia. Here, he learned about the early civilizations that were living in central Chile, as well as cataloguing numerous botanical species that he discovered there. The extensive collection that the doctor found, inspired the city of Vina Del Mar to begin a museum that was named after him, showcasing the many marvelous specimens and relics that he found and recorded during his stay in the area. The museum also has a magnificent exhibit of archaeological artifacts that were discovered on Easter Island; as well as relics and items acquired from Rapa Nui, that is located some 2100 miles off the coast of the country. Another display includes the numerous natural history pieces discovered, that include mammals, butterflies and insects; which are exhibited on the top floor of the museum. The fantastic exhibit from Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has some of the best relics in the museum, with enough information about the culture and history of the people that came to live there. There are spectacular wooden sculptures, called moai, that are showcased, with one marvelous example sitting at the entrance to the museum. The complete history of the island and its inhabitants is narrated, with accompanying artifacts, taking the visitor from the earliest arrivals to the modern day, with numerous examples of hand crafted relics from the island also.  The doctor became known as Dr. Fonck, which explains how the museum got its name, had a favorite pastime of exploring the regions of Chile and Patagonia, studying the people, flora, fauna and animals that lived and thrived in this jungle region. His expansive curiosity and passion for botany would take him to many areas where he was able to uncover fantastic archaeological treasures that helped him create a great understanding of the early civilizations that traversed these regions so long ago. The displays have been completely organized to create a seamless timeline of the numerous tribes that lived in the region, with outstanding relics like pottery, tools, weavings and various fragments of life that includes a well preserved mummy. On the top floor of the museum, there is a great natural history display, especially the pin boards that showcase the butterflies and insects found in the region that have some educational information for students of all ages. There are displays of mammals, reptiles and birds that have been acquired from other areas of the world, plus many whale bones and fossils; with a special display of shrunken heads from the Amazon cultures.

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