"Valparaiso" Top 5 Page for this destination Santiago Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel
Santiago Things to Do: 381 reviews and 820 photos
An hour and a half by bus from Santiago, Valparaiso is as different from the capital as you could possibly imagine. Built on steep hills around a wide and beautiful bay, this is Chiles’s second city and her most important port. Before the transcontinental railway opened up a short route from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast of the United States, and then the Panama Canal made the long sea route around Cape Horn unnecessary, Valaparaiso was a hugely important port and her safe harbour must have been a welcome sight indeed to those who had made the long journey right around the bottom of South America. The city expanded and grew rich during the Californian Gold Rush but a huge earthquake in 1906, followed shortly by the opening of the Panama Canal, dealt it a huge blow and it is only recently that the post World War 2 minerals' boom and industrialization have seen the city begin to thrive again.
Home to the Chilean navy , whose beautiful sail training ship the ‘Esmeralda” is often in port, the city has all the atmosphere and raffishness that make port cities so attractive. The city commercial centre, known as El Plan, is squeezed out along a narrow strip around the bay and then the hills rise steeply in series of terraces connected by steps and little funiculars. If you catch the bus from Santiago you will alight at Plaza O’Higgins. From here you can walk around to Plaza Sotomayor where you’ll find the handsome grey and white navy headquarters building. and the monument to Chile’s naval heroes. A walk across the square will bring you down to the waterside where colourful pleasure boats bob up and down waiting for someone to charter them for a cruise around the harbour.
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