Gadabout's Corner

Bird of passage

VALPARAíSO: Chileans’ Capital of Culture

For those who are interested in going to Chile, you are more likely to be visiting its capital, Santiago. The city is enclosed in a circle of the Andes and there are many things to do. But not far from Santiago, only about 2 hours, there is Chile’s Capital of Culture, Valparaíso.

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Valparaíso has been given many names due to its characters, such as “The Ocean’s Sweetheart” or “The Jewel of The Pacific,” but “Valpo” is how it is being called by locals. You can’t really give this city one domain character. It is a port city, with hills, with colorful houses, with graffiti walls and small lanes.

It’s an old town, with great modernization. There are modern industries and malls inside the conserved buildings. Among modern cars, trolleybuses are running around, sharing the roads. However, these trolebuses are not the only old-fashioned transportation service in Valpo. There are lifts and funicular railways taking pedestrians from flats to hills in which both are referred to as ascensor in Spanish.

Ascensores
  • Ascensor Polanco
    • Cerro Polanco
    • Simpson street
  • Ascensor Artillería (ar-ti-ye-ri-a)
    • Cerro Artillería
  • Ascensor Reina Victoria
  • Ascensor El Peral

The only lift in Valpo is Ascensor Polanco. It’s the only ascensor that goes vertically up and down inside a tower. It’s still working, carrying people from Simpson street to Polanco hill. To enter the lift from the ground level, you have to go through a tunnel in Simpson street and the lift will carry you up, stopping twice. The higher stop is at the top of the tower, which gives the best city view to commuters.

Apart from this ascensor, few others are still working as well. Ascensor Artillería is one of the big landmarks of Valparaíso. It’s a 2-lines funicular railways that takes people to the Cerro Artillería, with the view that allows you to look down to the busy port area.

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Ascensor Reina Victoria is also a great place to see the vibrant arts and color of the city. Its location is in a perfect corner of Cerro Alegre. It’s noticeable by the vibrant yellow tower that stood tall among many other colors of the neighbour. Also, the path on the higher level gives the best access to the hill and its view.

For one of them that wasn’t working when I was there is the Ascensor El Peral. However, it’s open now and offers you the great view from the little corner of the town. It must be a fun ride.

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Hills (Cerros)
  • Cerro Barón
    • San Francisco church
  • Cerro Florida
    • La Sebantiana
  • Cerro Lecheros
  • Cerro Bellavista
  • Cerro Alegre
  • Cerro Concepcíon
    • Hotel Brighton
    • Hotel Casa Mirador

To see Valpo in as many perspective as possible, you will have to go to as many hills as possible. Believe me, there are more than enough for you to climb and explore.

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Cerro Barón is one of the hills that gives you a panoramic view of Valpo, with the Pacific Ocean. On the hill, sits the San Francisco church, which is one of the historical place that has been affected by few major fire incidents of Valparaíso.

Cerro Florida is the location of La Sebastiana. It’s a museum that used to be a house of Chileans’ most beloved poet, Pablo Neruda. The house offers an amazing view and decorations. There are also great collections of Neruda’s treasures. There are a total of 3 houses of Neruda in Chile. The other is La Chascona in Santiago and the one in Isla Negra. If you can, try visit all of them and try to understand his creativity and romanticness that portrayed through his arts, poems and ideas. Because it’s not allowed to take photos of how these houses look like inside, the only way to experience is to personally go there. It’s so hard to explain and visualize something unbelievable like Neruda’s diplomacy.

The other hill is Cerro Lecheros. It has big, tall and vibrant buildings to offer. Some of them are even in the middle of the junction.

The most colorful spot in town is at Cerro Bellavista. You can’t miss this place. Apart from colorful houses, there are painted steps, colorful murals and graffitis. One of the very special things about Valparaíso is how these scenes can be changed under a matter of days. These colors could be repainted and covered the next time you return to see it again.

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For more colorful houses, you should visit Cerro Alegre. This is one of the more artistic area of the city. It’s filled with art shops by locals, nice cafés, restaurants and it also has Viña del Mar curving in the background.

If you are looking for nice hotels that have great ocean view, then you should visit Cerro Concepcíon. One of the major hotels that stands elegantly on the top of the hill is the Hotel Brighton. The other one is the Hotel Casa Mirador. When I was there, it has cute pastel color and a great ocean view.

Valpo does not only looks great from the height, it’s also very classy on the ground, especially at the Historic Quarter, one of the major part that makes Valparaíso a UNESCO site.

The best way to explore and take some awesome pictures of Valparaíso is by walking. This could gain you some muscle but it’s worth it. Give yourself a good amount of time to see everything, walk into every mews and lanes. Remember to take as much pictures as what the city offers. One thing though, you gotta be careful in some areas, especially with stray dogs. Also, you gotta be careful with your belongings.

Lastly, if you are keen on trying the amazing Chilean food, then here is the place. There are various restaurants for you to try local food like pastel de choclo, cazuelaempanadas and my favorite completos. But if you are in Valparaíso then you should try fresh seafood at the market by the fishermen pier. There are restaurants close by that cook for you from fresh ingredients, recently out of the sea.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    I always follow her report ,it never make me disappointed.
    I wish to read again.

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