"Birthplace of a hero" Top 5 Page for this destination Chile Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Chile Things to Do: 351 reviews and 652 photos

  Chillan Cathedral
by TheWanderingCamel
  • Chillan Cathedral - Chile
      Chillan Cathedral
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Suffused with light - Chile
      Suffused with light
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Local boy made good - Chile
      Local boy made good
    by TheWanderingCamel

Chillan's main claim to fame is that is was the birthplacve of the country's greatest hero -Bernardo O'Higgins - the illegitimate son of an Irishman and Isabel Riqielme- the daughter of an old Spanish family. The town has another famous son, the pianist, Claudio Arrau, but more of him in another tip. Bernardo's statue takes pride of place in the Plaza de Armas and, a short way from the centre of town, on the road to Concepcion, there's a park with a large mosaic depicting his life and the tiny chapel where his mother and sister are buried.

Despite being founded in 1550, there's not much that's old or historic in Chillan. Indian attacks and earthquakes have seen to that. The most recent, and most devastating big quake was in 1939, and there's very little here that survived that devastation. Dominating the central Plaza Bernardo O'Higgins are the curves of the city's cathedral roof and the gigantic cross in front of it that is dedicated to the 30,000 people of Chillan who lost their life in the earthquake.

The cathedral is stunning in its simplicity. A series of high parabolas built in grey concrete, from the outside it is striking enough. Inside it is suffused with light, but you can't see any windows as you walk into the great space that made me think of an enormous ribcage. Turn back to face the door and you realize all that light is coming from windows set around the curves of the roof. It's enormously effective - and reputedly earthquake proof.

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 10, 2007
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