Valparaiso, Chile

Street Mural Valparaiso Chile
Street Mural - Valparaiso, Chile
Plaza Sotomayor Monument to the Heros of Iquique Valparaiso
Plaza Sotomayor & Monument
 to the Heros of Iquique - Valparaiso

Naked Nude woman girl Open Air Museum Valparaiso Chile
Nude in Open Air Museum
- Valparaiso, Chile
Carnaval Valparaiso
Carnaval Valparaiso
Chilean Dinner Lots of Meat
Chilean Dinner - Lots of Meat
Lunch in Market Valparaiso Chile
Lunch in Market - Valparaiso, Chile
Paseo Gervasoni Cerro Alegre Valparaiso Chile
Paseo Gervasoni Cerro Alegre 
- Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso, Chile (1/22-23/2010) - We arrived during Carnaval Valparaiso where bands, dancers, performers, movies, etc. were scheduled day and night in the major plazas throughout the city - great fun!

Nicknamed The Jewel of the Pacific, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaiso is often considered to be one of Latin America’s most intriguing urban areas. Built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a labyrinth of cobblestone streets and rich architectural and cultural legacy, Valparaiso served first as an important stopover port for only Spanish ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (see history below).

We stayed in Valparaiso's old town next to Sotomayor Square and wandered up and down hills riding 130-year-old funiculars elevators exploring the famous old town neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion and their newly renovated old homes and cafes (see photos). We visited the artsy bohemian hill neighborhood of Bellavista where we wandered the Open Air Museum of about 20 murals painted on buildings and cement retainer walls (see photo of nude). 

We also road Valparaiso’s trolleybus (the oldest still operating trolley in the world) around for a full loop – it’s like a reverting to an older time. We stopped for a stroll through the daily market and enjoyed very nice street food fish salad and shellfish soup for lunch costing about $3US (see photos).

Valparaiso during California Gold Rush
Valparaiso during California Gold Rush
Some history... After Chilean independence from Spain in 1817, Valparaiso grew rapidly when this resupply port was opened to all nations, especially during the California Gold Rush, making the port city of Valparaiso one of the wealthiest places on the continent. When the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, Valparaiso no longer served as an important stopover and started its long decline until recently.

Although much of Valparaiso still needs major effort to bring it back to its old glory, in the 1990’s people started moving back to Valparaiso and are fixing up the old homes and establishing cafes on almost every block.  

map of Valparaiso chile
Map of Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso is also now the main harbor for the Chilean navy and a major cruise port for cruises around South America. The greater Valparaiso metropolitan area (including Chile's beach resort Vina del Mar 15 minutes away) has the third largest population in Chile and boasts many claims such as the oldest still operating Spanish newspaper in the world.

During our 10-hour driving commute north to Valparaiso from Pucon in the south of Chile, we stopped overnight in San Fernando.

Please also see our 7 other blog posts for beautiful Chile:

Chile - Vina del Mar

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