The hill towering over Bellavista in the city of Santiago is Cerro San Cristóbal. The base of the hill sits at the end of Pio Nono. A round-trip ticket up to the top on the rickety old funicular is CLP $2,000 and can take you up in just a few minutes. You can access the funicular by walking through the castle structure. The funicular was built in 1925 and is a Chilean national monument.
If you decide to stop halfway up, there’s the Chilean National Zoo. Souvenir, craft, and snack booths wait for you at the top after the funicular ride along with some breathtaking views of Santiago.
Crowning the hill is the Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepción. One of the symbols of Santiago, the Statue of the Virgin, stands 14m tall and was a gift from France in 1904. It’s possible to look inside the base of the statue where there is a small chapel. Pope John Paul II prayed there and blessed the city on April 1, 1987. Next to it is the sanctuary with offerings to the Virgin Mary.
A small church and some beautiful gardens also sit at the top along with an amphitheater. The rest of the hill contains Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, a park with two popular public swimming pools, a botanical garden, and a cable car. Unfortunately, I didn’t walk through it.