The visit to La Ligua and Catapilco is a beautiful trip to the fertile valley of the Ligua river (río Ligua) and to La Ligua with its textile industry. You will also get to travel along the lands that produced the most amount of gold in Chile. It’s a circuit of 50 miles round trip, from Zapallar, on a paved road. Restaurants and services are available in La Ligua.
La Ligua means place of the fortune-teller. It has a population of 17,048 and an altitude of 131 feet. The town grew from a miner settlement in the mid XVII century, in the lands that belonged to an “encomienda” (trusteeship) granted by Pedro de Valdivia to Gonzalo de los Ríos, grandfather of “La Quintrala”. It was founded under the name of Villa Santo Domingo de Rozas, on June, 21 of 1754, by the governor of that time, Domingo Ortiz de Rozas. It’s designed was implemented in 1789.
La Ligua is a town of beautiful country houses enclosed by adobe walls. Its climate and land are privileged and its nuts, pawpaw, cherimoyas , avocados and eggfruits are a delight for many. La Ligua is, however, more known by its industrial character. Almost all houses have a store open towards the street. There’s an active life in the streets of La Ligua which is full with wholesalers, retail buyers and sellers of raw materials, going from house to house.
In La Ligua there’s a commercial center around the square and the Portales, Ortiz de Rozas and Uribe streets; they also sell items on the side streets. One important industry in la Ligua is sweet-making. People dressed in impeccable white suits with baskets offer sweets in the streets, square and along the main road. It stands out the thick two sweet biscuits (alfajores) filled with white caramel.
The main local industry of La Ligua is the traditional and industrial textiles, specially standing out the town of Valle Hermoso that calls itself the “Textile Royalty”. They offer weave textiles (blankets) and machine-made textiles plain or with patterns. They make blankets, sweaters, scarves, gloves and socks using alpaca, angora, cashmere and merino wool, cotton and, mainly synthetic or of dralon.
- Nearby sites:
- In the Valle Hermoso -1.8 miles to the north of La Ligua-, in the area of Tres Esquinas, by the hills, you will be able to visit the workshop of the Chaparro sisters, with their traditional looms; occasionally, you will be able to appreciate the weavers spinning in a wood spindle. You can visit the Archeological Museum (Museo Arquelógico), which houses an important archeological collection of the Province, at Polanco street. Visiting hours are from Tuesday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 p, and from 3:30 pm to 7 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. The admission ticket is $250, and for children is $50.
To return, go back to the Pan-American road, now going South. At Catapilco (there’s a sign) turn right on the route towards the coast to Catapilco. Its name comes from the mapudungun (Mapuche language) “catan” that means to drill, and “pilco” that is a hole; both words together mean an enclosed valley. From the times of the aboriginal people, gold was extracted from its marsh using an old system of “batea” or hen’s crop. This consisted of having the birds peck on the sand and ingest the gold nuggets, which they kept on their crops. Then the birds were sacrificed to recover the valuable metal. The gold deposits are located bordering the marsh, from where runs the road to the coast. In 1877 the company “The Catapilco Mining Co” came and constructed a big channel through three tunnels, to take water from six leagues away to its headquarters in the town of La Laguna, next to the ocean. Using vapor pumps fed with firewood, 10,000 tons of stone fragments were pulverized each 24 hours with the pressure of water spurts. That also caused the over exploitation of the native woods. The mining industry had a great commercial success and stopped functioning by the end of the XIX century.
The road bordering the Catapilco marsh comes out to the coastal route by the La Laguna, from where you can go back to your seaside resort.
The church Santo Domingo Parochial (Parroquial Santo Domingo) offers masses from the 2nd week of October to the 2nd week of March, on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 8:30 am, 11 am and 8 pm. From the 3rd week of March to the 1st week of October, there are masses on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 8:30 am, 11 am and 7:30 pm.
Local Holidays and Festivals:
In January and February there’s a Textiles Fair (Feria del Tejido) held in La Ligua, where textiles are exhibited and sold, and there are artistic spectacles, in the Recreational and Cultural Park (Parque Recreativo y Cultural) in the Rayado area.
The Loom Festival (El Festival El Telar) is a festival of inéditas songs with the participation of national and international shows, held at the Recreational and Cultural Park.
In May the Cruz de Mayo Festivity (Fiesta de la Cruz de Mayo) [1st Sunday of the month]) is held in the area of the Hermoso Valley.
In October the Virgin of the Hermoso Valley Festivity (Fiesta de la Virgen de Valle Hermoso [1st Sunday of each month]) with Chinese dances and chants to the divine is held in the square of Hermoso Valley.
The Virgin of the Hermoso Valley Festivity (2nd Sunday of the month) in Placilla de La Ligua, with Chinese dance and chants to the divine is held from 12 am, and also there’s a big produce fair.
** Information related to Hours, Rates and Dates might change without any previous notice **