Viña del Mar

The city garden of Viña del Mar in the Chilean coast

The city garden of Viña del Mar in the Chilean coast

The city of Viña del Mar is located in the V Region, 69.5 miles north of Santiago, forming a conurbation with Valparaíso, the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the Marga Marga marsh. It’s also known locally as the “Garden City”.


Viña del Mar is a popular tourist and industrial destination with one of the most famous beaches in Latin America
. It is also home to the International Song Festival of Viña del Mar. (Festival de la Canción Internacional de Viña del Mar).


At Viña del Mar many of the main roads come together on the Seaside Highway (Autopista del Mar), which unites many of the local agricultural populations. Its industrial activities include sugar refinement, vegetable oil, fruits and petrochemical production, as well as wine, textiles and soap.


The city has beautiful mansions, luxurious hotels, parks and gardens, social clubs, a gambling casino, a municipal theatre, sporting facilities (such as the horseracing track and the famous Valparaíso Sporting Club) as well as ample beaches. The palace on the Castillo Hill (Cerro Castillo) is the summer residence for the Chilean president.

The beaches of Viña del Mar are:

The Abarca Creek Beach (Playa Caleta Abarca) is a much visited beach and the closest one to Viña del Mar. This enclosed bay borders the Recreo Hill (Cerro Recreo) to the South, and the Capuchinos convent and church over the cliff to the North. The Hotel Miramar used to be Hotel Miramar over the rocks, and on the background there are many beautiful buildings on the Castillo Hill. It’s an area full with gardens.

The Miramar or Los Artistas Beach (Playa Miramar o de Los Artistas), located by the bay, was the only beach visited at the beginning of the century in Viña del Mar. The Bathing Therapy Facilities of Doctor Von Schroeders (Baños del Doctor Von Schroeders) were installed there. Later in 1953, the beach started to disappear due to the change of the marine currents caused by the construction of the Protection Wall (Molo de Abrigo) at the Valparaíso Port.

Viña del Mar in Chile

Viña del Mar in Chile

The Casino Beach (Playa Casino) is located at the mouth of the Marga-Marga Marsh (Estero Marga-Marga).


The Acapulco Beach (Playa Acapulco) is located at the corner of Avenida San Martín and 8 Norte.


The El Sol Beach (Playa El Sol) is located at Avenida San Martín between 11 and 14 Norte.

The Blanca Beach (Playa Blanca) is located at the corner of Avenida Jorge Montt and 15 Norte.


The Los Marineros Beach (Playa Los Marineros) is located at Avenida Jorge Montt.

The Las Salina Beach (Playa Las Salinas) is located at Avenida Jorge Montt, by the Las Salinas Country Club (Club de Campo Las Salinas).


The Las Cañitas Beach (Playa Las Cañitas) is located at Avenida Borgoño, by Jardín del Mar.


The Reñaca Beach (Playa de Reñaca) is located at Avenida Borgoño, in front of the Long Beach Restaurant.


The El Encanto Beach (Playa El Encanto) is located at Avenida Borgoña.

The Cochoa Beach (Playa Cochoa) is located at Avenida Borgoña.

Recreational places in Viña del Mar:

Sausalito Lagoon Tourist Complex (Complejo Turístico Laguna Sausalito)
The Sausalito Lagoon
is part of the old “La Hacienda” dam, belonging to the Vergara family. It was built at a time when the water supply was short and threatened the vine crops around the area. Currently is a big tourist complex offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beaches, motorboat trips, aquatic ski, tennis fields, swimming pools, and much more entertainment for adults and kids.


The place also has a replica of a steamboat from Mississippi, utilize as a discotheque some time ago.


The complex is open daily between 10 am to 5:30 pm. An admission ticket must be paid in order to use the facilities.


Valparaíso Sporting Club. In January 1, 1882, the seventy nine members attending the “Valparaíso Sporting Meeting”, an institution that sponsored English horse racing on the plains of Placilla since 1864, decided to expand their activities and set up a corporation with the name of “Valparaíso Sporting Club”, whose main aim was to motivate the love for equestrian sports in the city of Viña de Mar.


The English tradition carried by their founders inspired the organization to create the Chilean “El Derby”, a 2,624 yards horse racing for three years old horses. The first race was held on October, 22 of 1885.


The Valparaíso Sporting Club on its 306 acres of land has racing and training tracks, barnyards and provides equestrian trips, facilities for its members, general public and staff, sport fields for practicing soccer, rugby, polo, cricket, hockey, athletics, biking and “bochas” (traditional ball throwing game), and others sports practiced and enjoyed by the people in the area.


The Granadilla Country Club is located at the road to Granadilla without number in the area of Sausalito. It’s a big sports center and private club, with excellent golf courts, pool and tennis fields.


Sunset in Viña del Mar, Chilean Coast

Sunset in Viña del Mar, Chilean Coast

The fields were officially inaugurated on August 15, 1992 and have gone through major changes. Today it’s a Country Club offering modern and comfortable facilities. Its golf courses are considered the best in Chile.

The Palaces of Viña del Mar

The Valley Palace (Palacio Valle) is located at the end of Paseo Valle 396 and is accessed through a long stair. This Venetian style palace was built by the architects Barison and Shiavon in the year 1916 by the request of Mr. Juan Valle. Later, in 1923, he sold it to Mr. Patricio Achurra Plaza, who in turn transferred it to Mr. Emilio Domínguez Rielo in 1935. In 1964, it was acquired by the Binational Institute (Instituto Norteamericano de Cultura) and in 1985, it went to the hands of the Catholic University of Valparaíso (Universidad Católica de Valparaíso), where the Institute of History, belonging to the university’s Philosophy and Education Department, is located now.


The Municipal Council (Consejo Municipal) in Viña del Mar declared it a historical and architectonic construction on Tuesday, May 9 of 2000.


The Rioja Palace (Palacio Rioja) is located at Quillota 214 street. In 1906, Mr. Fernando Rioja, a rich Spanish banker living in Valparaíso, bought 131,233 square feet in this area and asked the architect Alfredo Azancot to build his residence. This palace stands out for its volumes, the large dining room, and the Imperial Room. They are also remarkable, the music loggia with two inner balconies, the Boulles Room, the pink room, the light blue room and the library.


Mr. Fernando Rioja passed away in 1922. His family lived at the state until his widow Ms. Sara Ruiz passed away in 1950.


Taking into consideration the cultural and esthetical value of the Rioja Palace, the Municipality of Viña del Mar bought it in 1956 with its furniture and 2.4 park acres.


Currently the state is the ceremonial palace of the municipality, and at the same time a museum depicting that period, which is a testimony of the architecture and furniture used at the beginning of the XX century, and the life style of the rich commerce men of those years as well. The museum exhibits furniture with fine finishing brought from Spain and France with imperial baroque, rococo and chesterfield styles.


The Municipal Council declared it a building of historical and architectonic interest on Tuesday, May 9 of 2000 and on May 14 of 1985 it was declared Historical Monument.

The Vergara Palace (Palacio Vergara) is located at Errázuriz 563-596 street in the Quinta Vergara Park (Parque Quinta Vergara). The construction was requested by Ms. Blanca Vergara de Errázuriz, daughter of the city of Viña del Mar’s founder, Mr. José Francisco Vergara. Its construction started in 1906, and ended in 1910, under the close supervision of Ettore Petri. It could be said that its style is predominantly Venetian, with the exception that instead of using marble, stone and bronze materials, like in the far away Italian city, it was built with light materials.


In this museum there’s a room dedicated to the founding family. Here you can see a portrait of Ms. Dolores Álvarez, painted by the French artist Raimundo de Monvoisin.

The Municipal Council in Viña del Mar, declared it historical and architectonic construction on Tuesday 9, 2000.

The Carrasco Palace (Palacio Carrasco) is located at Avenida Libertad 250. In 1903 the rich nitrate industrial Mr. Emilio Carrasco bought the entire block. And in 1912 asked the French architect Alfredo Anzacot, who lived in Valparaíso, to build his residence.

This French style palace had 4 floors topped with a mansard roof with an entry balcony. The Carrasco Palace was bought to be used as the Municipality headquarters in 1930, which functioned there until 1971. Currently it houses the Cultural Center (Centro Cultural), The Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna Library (Biblioteca Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna) and the Historical Archive (Archivo Histórico) of Viña del Mar.


The Carrasco Palace was declared National Monument by the Ministry of Education on August 8, 1986. The Council also declared it a construction of historical and architectonic interest on Tuesday, May 9 of 2000.


It’s open from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 7 pm. Saturday it opens from 10 am to 1 pm.


The Presidential Palace (Palacio Presidencial) is located at Callao 398 street over one top ending of Castillo Hill (Cerro Castillo). It was built in 1929 by Luis Browne and Manuel Valenzuela. It was inaugurated at the beginning of the 30’s by “General Ibáñez.” It took a bit more than one year and a half to build the famous Presidential Palace at Castillo Hill.


The Presidential Palace style is colonial-modern and the attendant works for the Government’s Presidency.


The Municipal Council of Viña del Mar, declared it a historical and architectonic construction on Tuesday 9, May of 2000. The Presidential Palace opens once a year, the last Sunday of May.

The Ocean Viewpoints

In the beautiful Chilean city of Viña del Mar there are two beautiful viewpoints:

The “Father Alberto Hurtado” Viewpoint (Mirador Padre Alberto Hurtado), inaugurated on 1994, is located at the road that connects downtown with the city, starting from Avenida Los Castaños and the corner of 7 Norte, towards the Miraflores Hill. After winding on the Sausalito Lagoon (Laguna Sausalito), you’ll get to the viewpoint, where you can appreciate the entire city. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and it’s an ideal place for tourists looking to discover new corners in Viña del Mar.

The Agua Santa Viewpoint (Mirador de Agua Santa) provides the tourist with a beautiful view of Viña del Mar, since at night you can appreciate the downtown’s bright signs. It was exclusively designed as a pedestrian walk and counts with green areas and benches that allows visitors to appreciate the Garden City and the Valparaíso bay at its best.

The Vista Hermosa Viewpoint (Mirador Vista Hermosa) is a beautiful viewpoint located at Vista Hermosa street at Castillo Hill where a beautiful panoramic view of the city can be seen.


The Los Lobos Marinos or Cochoa Viewpoint (Mirador de Los Lobos Marinos o Mirador Cochoa) is located at only 1.8 miles away from Reñaca and allows seeing the sea lions resting on the rocks. The marine fauna of the nearby areas is a tourist attraction.

The Municipal Theater (El Teatro Municipal) was inaugurated on October 11, 1930 with the presence of the President Carlos Ibáñez Del Campo. This amphitheater is part of the artistic and cultural history of the Garden City.


Many celebrities have performed on its stage, such as ballet companies, operas and the most diverse spectacle shows. The construction of the Municipal Theater started in 1925 during the period of Mayor Unzurrunzaga. The building plans were elaborated by the architects Aquíles Landoff and Renato Schiavon.


The final construction of the Municipal Theater ended up in a classical Greco-Roman style. You can appreciate its simple, however very elegant, style from the very entry with steps enhancing its façade. Its ample windows and elegant fences, the Greco-Roman doors sparking with the inner and façade lights, the theater enhancing the acoustic, the very deep blue velvet curtain brought from Milan, the Presidential and Mayo boxes and the rest of them, all add distinction and class to this amphitheatre.

The Municipal Council of Viña del Mar, declared it a historical and architectonic construction on Tuesday, May 9 of 2000. The Municipal Theatre is located at Sucre Square (Plaza Sucre) without number.

The Vergara Dock (Muelle Vergara) is located at Avenida San Martín between 10 and 12 Norte. The Vergara Dock is an engineering piece of work built in 1910 with the aim of serving the Sugar Refinery Company industry in Viña del Mar, CRAV. An old crane, used for ships loading and unloading, can still be seen here.


The Vergara Dock was restored in 1983 becoming a beautiful tourist attraction. It provides a pedestrian walk, viewpoint and a restaurant, and fishing can be practiced as well. The Valparaíso bay and Viña del Mar coastal surroundings can be appreciated.

It’s a safe place to visit and counts with a restaurant with a piano bar, cafeteria, craft sales and ice cream stores.


The Municipal Council of Viña del Mar, declared it historical and architectonic construction on Tuesday 9, May of 2000.

Viña del Mar and its surroundings

Reñaca

Reñaca is a seaside resort of Viña del Mar located 4.3 miles to the North.

Thanks to its active life during summer time, it can be said that Reñaca has risen as an independent and thriving community. It has important hotel facilities, restaurants and houses and apartments for rent. Reñaca is the most visited place along the coast.

Its beach comprises 0.8 miles, bordered by a beautiful oceanside avenue. During summer it’s a meeting place for thousands of young people and visitors from many places. By night, life continues at the many places for entertainment available such as discos, pubs and cafeterias.


From Reñaca you will be able to visit the Concón seaside resort, the Cocha Beach (Playa Cocha), The Higuerilla Creek (Caleta Higuerilla) and the Amarilla Beach (Playa Amarilla).

The origins of Reñaca go back to 1905 when the heir to the Viña Ranch (Hacienda de Viña), Salvador Vergara Álvarez, sets up the real state corporation Montemar in order to urbanize Reñaca. Nevertheless, just in 1912 the plan that comprehends the flat surface around the marsh is formalized. A little bit later, the first houses are built along the Vicuña Mackenna and Balmaceda streets, both running parallel to the marsh.

These were houses of local people, built on lands of more than 16,404 square feet and all located the furthest away from the beach, since it was considered a sandy, inhospitable and windy site. Toward the end of the gore and behind a high wall you can see the magnificent park with a pavilion, created by Agustín Edwards MaClure, the founder of the newspaper El Mercurio de Santiago, where he used to come to spend the day from his house in Viña del Mar.


The coastal road was extended to Concón in 1917, but the Reñaca beach remained deserted.


Only by 1940, houses started to be built on the straight street along the beach of Reñaca and soon it was full with summer houses of the people from Santiago. Currently, they have all been replaced by modern buildings. However, the big beach of Reñaca continued to be deserted, since nobody went into the ocean considering it very dangerous. It was a place for family soccer games, isolated picnics, jeep and motorbikes races, and horse riding trips. Cochoa, a bit further to the North, was the popular place for socializing since it was warm and had calm waters.


Recently in 1965, Reñaca started becoming the most important summer center. Its beach was urbanized and transformed into the most popular place. A rapid building construction process was executed and houses recently built where pull down. Instead, spectacular stepped buildings were built on the hillsides. The complete coastal front was rebuilt on the lands considered as the most expensive ones in the country, and also even on top of the dune hills.

In 1980 the Seaside Garden (Jardín del Mar), to the south of the Reñaca marsh, is developed. It’s a big residential real state area that only in one decade was covered with houses and buildings, changing Reñaca into the center of the greatest urban development in the entire coast.


Currently, Reñaca beach is the center for the youth and the place where thousand of visitors come during summer.

Concón

Concón has a surface of 47.2 miles, with an altitude of 754 feet above sea level. Concón currently has a population of 32,273.


Concón has a unique and privileged weather called Occidental Template Climate. It’s determined by cold marine currents that sweep the coasts and the sea winds that moderate the temperature. Therefore, the temperature varies slightly during the year with moderate rains during Winter and draught during Summer. The weather reaches and average of 68° F during Summer and 59° F during Winter.

Quillota

Quillota is located 25.4 miles Viña del Mar. Before this area was inhabited by natives dominated by the Incas. Villa de Quillota was founded in 1717. Currently it has a population of 70,000.

The nearby areas of Quillota city are characterized by the practice of rural tourism, at the Ají Gore (Quebrada del Ají), the Margarita breeder (Criadero Margarita) and, on the way to Palma, in the Educational Farm Piedras Blancas (Granja Educativa Piedras Blancas).


In Quillota you will be able to see the Ramas Square (Plaza de Ramas) formed by big shades and palm trees and two churches surrounding it: the Santo Domingo Convent (Convento de Santo Domingo) and the San Martin Parish (Parroquia San Martín). You will also be able to see the Church of San Francisco (Iglesia de San Francisco) and the Colonial House (Casa Colonial), declared National Monument, the Archeological Museum of Quillota (Museo Arqueológico de Quillota) and the House and Museum of the Huaso of Quillota (Casa y Museo del Huaso de Quillota).

Olmué

Olmué is a town surrounded by the La Campana and El Roble hills, real sanctuaries of the local flora and fauna. It’s one the most traditional enclaves of the central area and offer activities such as the Huaso Festival of Olmué (Festival del Huaso de Olmué). It has a population of 13,000.


The town of Olmué was founded at the end of the XIX century and its name comes from “gulmué” that in Aymara language means “land of elms.” You can walk around its picturesque square located between Prat and Almagro streets and visit the Nuestra Señora del Rosario parish bordering the Teniente Merino Park (Parque Teniente Merino) where you may rent horses to travel along the avenues in Olmué.

You can also visit the La Campana National Park (Parque Nacional La Campana) (Av. Granizo, Paradero 45), situated in the middle of the Coastal Mountain Range (Cordillera de la Costa) occupying a surface of nineteen thousand acres. There they are living together l 57 types of birds, and tress such as “palqui” (Cestrum Palqui), myrtle (arrayán) and “boldo” (Peumus boldus), along a brook going down from the mountain. You may camp here.


Among other attractions near Olmué is the Palmar de Ocoa, a place that has the greatest quantity of Palmar tree species (today in extinction). Also, you will find the Baby Jesús of the Palma Sanctuary (Santuario del Niño Dios de la Palma) and the Patagual Park (Parque Patagual). At the Patagual Park each January it’s held the Festival of Huaso of Olmué, a festivity held since 1970, depicting all the Chilean native traditions.

Viña del Mar is an extensive commune that includes the Reñaca seaside resort. The city of Viña del Mar has a waterfront with 2 miles of beaches, between Abarca Creek (Caleta Abarca) and Las Salinas. These are the Abarca Creek, Los Artistas, Casino, Acapulco, El Sol, Playa Blanca, Los Marineros and Las Salinas beaches, much visited, and bordered by pedestrian walks and gardens. Beside, there’s an extension of another 1.2 miles of beaches between the Reñaca and Concón seaside resorts.

Viña del Mar’s architecture is unique. In its residential neighborhoods there are beautiful bungalows surrounded by gardens, built during the first decades of the XX century and inspired by the most diverse architectonic styles, with gracious sets of volumes and turreted viewpoints. The seaside border, at Av. Perú and Av. San Martín, has on its side many high buildings that stand out because of the sets of balconies facing the ocean.

In the midst of this urban landscape there’s the Municipal Casino (Casino Municipal) that, with its multiple rooms destined for different games, shows and restaurants, is without doubt, the greatest center of attraction.

The history of Viña del Mar is short, just within a hundred years. During the Colony there were two ranches: the first, called Viña del Mar, to the north of the Marga Marga marsh, counted with a vineyard; the land bordering the main house was located where today is the Quinta Rioja. The second, denominated the 7 Hermanas, situated south of the marsh, occupied seven hills across Valparaíso; the land bordering the main house was located where today is the Quinta Rioja.

In 1835, the rich Portuguese commerce man and ship-owner, Francisco Alvares, bought the Viña ranch and five years later the 7 Hermanas ranch, obtaining in one hand the entire Viña del Mar valley. His wife, Dolores Pérez de Alvares, a big flower lover, moved from Valparaíso and founded and exotic park there, today known as Quinta Vergara.

In 1855, the railroad coming from Valparaíso arrived to Viña del Mar after big efforts were made to open the way through the coastal cliff and cut the soil by the Castillo hill. The railroad station was created, and from that point and on the “porteños” (people from Valparaiso) started to visit the valley of Viña, where they went for country trips, organized horse races and used the sea bathing facilities installed at Miramar beach (no longer existing today).

By 1872, some “porteños” –mainly foreigners- leased lands next to the railroad line, and built houses with big gardens. Thus fulfilling their old dreams of having ample spaces, as opposed to the narrower Valparaíso where it was impossible.

In 1874, Viña del Mar was founded. Meanwhile, fiver years it was installed there a Municipal office, and in 1882, the church and Sporting Club. The elegant Gran Hotel was also built (no longer existing), playing an important role in the non-stopping visit of the people from Santiago to the coast.

The flat valley to the north of Marga Marga marsh and Av. Libertad –its main axis- was parceled in 1892, starting the construction of great summer states. Here the new residents coming from Valparaíso built houses, a flow that increased after the 1906 earthquake that destroyed a big part of the city. Since then, the seaside resort has enjoyed and ongoing development. In the first decade of the XX century, big states were constructed, among them Quinta Rioja, the Quinta Vergara and the Carrasco state at Av. Libertad.

In the flourishing decade of 1930 and with support from the State the following constructions were built in Viña del Mar: the Municipal Theater (Teatro Municipal), the O’Higgins Hotel (Hotel O’Higgins), the Presidential Palace (Palacio Presidencial), the Municipal Casino (Casino Municipal), the Las Salinas seaside resort (Balneario Las Salinas) and the coastal road to Concón. In the following two decades the coastal border with the Miramar Hotel (Hotel Miramar [it’s currently being demolished]), the seaside resort Abarca Creek (balneario Caleta Abarca), the Marina Avenue (Avenida Marina) and the Peru Avenue ( Avenida Perú) were completed.

Today the city of Viña del Mar it’s renewed and in the entire coastal border you can see a generation of modern buildings occupying the place of the first summer houses. The city’s activity is intense and ongoing: the urban life is concentrated in the Valparaíso street, a commercial center and a meeting place at midday in its coffee places and “confiterías” (diner and tea rooms). People go to the beach for resting and enjoying and, at night, there are many attractive activities organized typically along the seaside resorts.

It’s of interest to visit the social and cultural center of Viña del Mar that has its own features. And it’s also a trip to the sumptuous residencies of the first decades of XX century. It lasts more than 3 hours if you go shopping. The best thing is go at midday or at sunset. There are many coffee places and restaurants in the area. There’s parking available at the entry of the Quinta Vergara.

It’s recommended to start the trip at Viña del Mar’s downtown that is seven blocks long, bordered to the East by the square José Francisco Vergara and, to the West, by the Castillo hill. Its width, of only two and a half blocks, extends from the railroad to the Marga Marga marsh.

The José Francisco Vergara Square (Plaza José Francisco Vergara) is located between the streets of Valparaíso and Arlegui. The field was donated in 1874 by José Francisco Vergara, when planning the Viña del Mar town. It has beautiful gardens and many trees with contrasting colored leaves. It has a pretty fountain and sculptures, such as the replicas of “The Echo” and “The Chimera”, and the bust of José Francisco Vergara. The Municipal Orpheum plays military marches on Sundays.

To the South stands out the small Sucre Square (Plaza Sucre) with palm trees; it’s surrounded by big shopping stores. At the background is the Nuestra Señora de Dolores Church (Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Dolores). It’s the parish of Viña del Mar, located exactly at Errázuriz 699 street. Masses are held from Monday to Saturday, from 12 pm to 8 pm, Sunday and holidays at 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm and 8 pm.

On the other side you can see the railroad station and the neoclassic building Viña Club (Club de Viña), built in 1910.

When walking around the Vergara square it will stand out the former Subercaseaux residency (residencia Subercaseaux), currently the Español-Plaza hotel. On the side there’s the Municipal Theatre (Teatro Municipal), from 1930 and, in the corner, the great O‘Higgins Hotel (Hotel O’Higgins), inaugurated on 1935. On the West side of the square there are many high buildings, among them, a commercial gallery standing out on the corner of the main commercial artery, the Valparaíso Street. On this street it takes place the main commercial activity of the city. Its origin was the road connecting Quillota with Valparaíso; that’s where the name comes from. There used to be an isolated house lodging along the road, at the corner of the street and the square. That’s were the rebels stopped by in 1837, when they were bringing the Minister Diego Portales as a prisoner from Quillota, who was later murdered at the Placeres hill, some miles ahead.

At the beginning, Viña del Mar was populated along the two streets that ran on both sides of the railroad: Viana and Alvares streets. The road to Valparaíso was the posterior street, used by the service staff and the carriages going to the residencies at Viana street. Some house owners that had ranches in the interior area like Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, opened up points of sale of fruits, vegetables and cereal behind their houses and on the road to Valparaíso. That was the commercial start of Valparaíso street, a feature maintained up to today. By 1930 it was totally built. Some constructions keep the original facade from that period and others were demolished in order for modern buildings and shopping malls to be built.

Since the year 2000 the stretch between the square and the Ecuador street of the Valparaíso street has become an ample pedestrian walk, with buildings on its side, of four floors in the majority, forming a continuous wall of shopping windows and bright signs. This is also a place for social meetings, especially at midday.

Enter the Valparaíso street, using the north sidewalk. There’s the Florida gallery (galería Florida), a square with stores and coffee places in downtown; when it rains it’s packed. This gallery is connected with others that come out to the Arlegui street and get to the square where the Art Films Movie Theatre (Cine Arte) is.

Next to this gallery is the diner and tea room “confitería” Samoiedo, the most traditional meeting place of Viña del Mar. In front of it there are many residential buildings from the decade of 1930, crossed by the Cousiño passage (pasaje Cousiño), where there’s a Craftsmen Fair and many restaurants.

At the corner with Quinta street there are the commercial galleries Paseo del Mar and Pleno Centro. At Quinta street you’ll find the Anayak coffee place (café Anayak), another traditional meeting place.

Continuing on Valparaíso street, you’ll pass by a group of high buildings of the Portal Álamos, until getting to Etchevers street; in this tower the Office of Regional Tourism (Oficina Regional de Sernatur V Reglón [Edificio Portal Álamos, Apt. 305 and 302]) is located. On the next block, there are two galleries crossing the block. The first one is Cristal gallery (galería de Cristal), with a glass vault, plants and two commercial stories; there you find the private Big Ben coffee place (café Big Ben). The following is the Arcadia gallery (galería Arcadia), with a more active commerce towards Arlegui. The next corner is Villanelo, where Valparaíso street opens up into two small squares.

Continuing on Valparaíso, on the north’s sidewalk, there’s the Fontana gallery (galería Fontana). The next corner is Ecuador, where there’s also a dynamic commerce; it’s an access road from Santiago.

The street commerce ends a block ahead, at the corner with Von Schroeders. At this point you will be able to see the cliff borders of the Castillo hill (Cerro Castillo), topped with residencies built in 1930. We recommend to go on Von Schroeders to cross the railroad line and go back to the square using Alvares Street (Calle Alvares), that runs parallel to the railroad line and has houses from the first decade of the XX century; most of them have been recycled.

Between Ecuador and Traslaviña streets there are the Monjas Francesas School and a big house turned into a hotel; observe the paneling of its lateral wall. Next block starts with an interesting neoclassic residency. On the background of the Valle passage, comes out the Florentine style villa that belonged to the Domínguez family. Today is an educational center. A bit further, you will see two big states: the former Werner residency (residencia Werner), today house of Italy and, in front, the former residency of José Tomás Ramos, actually an educational center.

Continuing toward the railroad station, you will be able to see other residencies, some still not in use. Over Viana street, on the other side of the railroad line, there’s still a house surrounded by corridors in the midst of gardens.

When getting to the parochial church, turn left to visit the Quinta Vergara. It’s the most beautiful park along the coast, and maybe in Chile, with ample avenues for walking, and a beautiful residency that today houses the Municipal Arts Musuem (Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes). Besides, there’s an amphitheater with monumental scenery, where every February it’s held the International Song Festival of Viña del Mar. It’s open from Monday to Sunday, from 7 am to 6 pm, and during summer until 7 pm. The admission is free.

The Quinta Vergara is situated in a natural basin surrounded by hills and has a singular story. During the Colony, the land by the main house of the Las 7 Hermanas ranch was situated here, which comprised the entire mountainous region between Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. It belonged to the Carrera family, relatives of the national heroes. By 1840, the Portuguese Francisco Alvares, a rich commerce man and ship-owner in Valparaíso, bought the ranch, where he installed his residency. His wife, Dolores Pérez, was a big plant lover and she started the creation of the garden. Alvares became a widow in 1843. Her son, Salvador, was the heir to a big fortune, with which he traveled to the Far East and Australia. From his trips he brought the exotic plants that started forming part of the country house. That’s how many species were introduced to Chile, such as the Araucaria excelsa, and many of which still exist, but specialists couldn’t classified.

Salvador’s daughter, Mercedes, lived with her grandmother at the country state when the railroad works arrived to Viña in 1854, directed by the contractor Mr. Paddison. An assistant to the engineer, the young José Francisco Vergara, married Mercedes Alvares, the only heir to the entire Viña del Mar.

José Francisco Vergara organized the foundation of the city in 1874, selling land along the railroad. He was a multifaceted man: a commerce man, politician and Minister of Interior during the presidency of Santa María. He also had a high rank in the Army during the War of the Pacific –where he commanded the successful cavalry encounter in Pampa Germania-, and he was Minister of War during the presidency of Pinto. Vergara died at his country state in 1889, and Viña del Mar was divided among his children: Salvador got the lands to the north of the marsh, that he urbanized in 1892, and Blanca got the country state and the lands to the south of the marsh of de Viña del Mar.

Alter the 1906 earthquake that pulled down the house of the Alvares Vergara, Blanca Vergara de Errázuriz requested the Italian architect Héctor Petri to built the Vergara Vergara Palace (Palacio Vergara), finished in 1910 with a Venetian style. Currently it houses the Municipal Museum of Arts (Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes), that has the original art collection of the palace, plus other pieces contributed by art collectors from Viña del Mar. It’s open all year round from Tuesday to Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 1:45 pm and from 3 pm to 5:45 pm. The admission ticket costs $600, children, students and seniors $300.

At the same space there’s also the Arts School (Escuela de Bellas Artes), offering classes from March to December. The park (redesigned in 1908) keeps the subtropical flora that sets it apart from the other parks in Chile. Go around it, since it’s a pleasure to observe the great trees and palms variety.

To continue with the visit to the old residencies of Viña del Mar, go out of the Quinta and cross the Vergara Square (Plaza Vergara), just before crossing the Liberty bridge (puente Libertad), you will find the traditional O’Higgins hotel and on its side, a sales room with souvenirs and exclusive crafts with wood, fish leather and glass products. It’s open from Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 8 pm.

Cross the bridge over the marsh and enter the Avenida Libertad. It’s one of the most beautiful avenues in Viña del Mar. On its first four blocks there are ancient oriental banana trees (plátanos orientales), whose tall branches form a vault. The flat surface to the north of the marsh is called Población Vergara and its urbanization started in 1892 with these first streets, where the biggest “villas” among gardens were built. Today most of them have been replaced by buildings.

On the third block, on the right, is the Carrasco Palace (Palacio Carrasco), declared national monument. In 1903, the rich nitrate industrialist Emilio Carrasco bought the entire block and, in 1912, requested the French architect residing in Valparaíso, Alfredo Azancot, to build his residency. With a French style, the palace has four floors topped with a mansard roof and two outgoing lateral volumes framing the porch and entry balcony. It was bought in1930; here the Municipal office was located until 1971. Today is the Cultural Center (Centro Cultural). It’s open from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 1pm and from 2 pm to 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. The Exhibits Room has the same schedule. The admission is free. The Vicuña Mackenna Library (Biblioteca Vicuña Mackenna), opens from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 1:30 pm, and the Historical Archive (Archivo Histórico) opens from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 7 pm. In the small square there’s the entry to the Defense Sculpture (Escultura La Defensa).

Continue turning left on 4 Norte street. At the corner is the Fonck Museum (Museo Fonck). It occupies the former Délano Residency. It has an archeological collection from the north and central areas of the country, of the Mapuche culture and the Rapa-nui culture from Easter Island. From the latter, it has one of the most diverse and complete exhibit with 1,400 pieces. The Fonck Musuem also has a room dedicated to the Andean ceramic of the Chancay, Chimú, Nazca and Moche cultures. On the second floor there’s the Natural History Museum (Museo de Historia Natural) with rooms with birds, mammals, insects and collections of minerals and fossils. In the garden there’s one of the six moai existing outside the Easter Island; the other ones are located in the English Museum of London (Museo Británico de Londres), in Paris, in Brussels, in the Smithsonian Museum (Museo Smithsoniano) and in La Serena. The figure was brought by the Fonck Corporation in 1950. It’s open from November to April, from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm; Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 2 pm; the rest of the year, from Tuesday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 2 pm. There’s more information available in English and German. The admission ticket costs $1,000, children up to 12 $200.

Continue walking two blocks on 4 Norte street between the residencies and ancient trees. You will get to the Rioja Palace (Palacio Rioja), declared national monument. Originally built over four blocks, it was surrounded by the park and had a palmary, an open air theater, a horse barnyard, a training stable, a swimming pool and a tennis court.

The entry to the Rioja Palace is by Quillota street. This road, along the Valparaíso street, was the road connecting the Aconcagua valley with the port, since the Colonial period. There were houses and warehouses here belonging to the Viña del Mar ranch.

In 1906, the Spanish tobacco trader (founder of the Tobacco Chilean Company [Cía. Chilena de tabacos]), resident of Valparaíso, Fernando Rioja, bought 131,233 square feet of land here and requested the architect Alfredo Azancot Levi –the same from the Carrasco Palace – to build his residency. This huge building, built after the devastating earthquake of 1906, was built with a stone foundation with crossed iron and holm oak beams over it. All the walls have wide partitions made of oak wood, bolted and filled with “adobillo” (crude clay), and planks of wood frames on both sides to receive stucco of plaster and cement. The building came through with slight damage after the earthquakes of 1981 and 1985.

Take a look at the garden –a fourth part of the original-, with a variety of palm trees. In the contiguous square, corner with 4 Norte, there used to be the giant palmary built in “trillage” (wood crossed frames) that was demolished by 1960. The Municipality bought the palace and part of the park in 1956 and used it as the Ceremonial Palace (Palacio Ceremonial) and the Enviromental Museum (Museo Ambiental). This French style state shows the character of the “belle epoque” enjoyed by the society of Vina del Mar at the beginning of the XX century, reflected in the rooms and furniture. It stands out the Imperial Room and the Boulles Room, the Mirror Room, the library and the dining room.

In the first floor is the Municipal Conservatory of Music Isidor Handler (Conservatorio Municipal de Música Isidor Handler). It’s open all year round from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 1:30 pm and 3 pm to 5:30 pm. The cost of the admission ticket to the palace for children and students is $300; adults $600. Admission to the park is free.

To conclude this trip, you may walk eight blocks on 4 Norte street towards the ocean, where you will find, on San Martín avenue, ice cream stores, “confiterías”, fast food and good restaurants and hotels.

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