The main road through the historic city center of Santiago is called Alameda. Sort of. The official name is Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins, but that’s a mouthful, so locals call it Alameda.
Anyway, Alameda starts at Plaza Baquedano and runs for almost 8km east to west. This entry will cover the sights from Plaza Baquedano all the way to Calle Nueva York, so not nearly the full 8km.
I started my walk down Alameda at Plaza Baquedano, also known as Plaza Italia. Plaza Baquedano is a huge traffic circle with a few statues in the middle and skyscraper on one end. It’s a metro and traffic hub. Walking west from here, I would recommend stopping for lunch at Fuente Alemana, which I covered in this post. It will give you some energy for the day.
After enjoying my mayonnaise sandwich, I walked a few blocks and noticed a long, beautiful building on the left hand side with a statue of Jesus on top. That’s Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. It was founded in 1888 and given pontifical status in 1930. It is one of the top ten Latin American universities.
Across the street from the university is Cerro Santa Lucía. It’s easily one of my favorite places in Santiago and worth a climb up the hill.
As you continue walking down Alameda, on the right side is Biblioteca Nacional. It was built in 1927 and has the most valuable collection of literary works of Colonial Latin America.
Usually, most people would overlook a library and not bother walking inside. Do yourself a favor and go inside, walk upstairs, and through the doors directly in front of you. This is the Medina Library, where the valuable works are held. The entire room is done in wood and is one of the most impressive reading rooms I’ve ever seen.
A few blocks south of the library on Santa Rosa, at the corner of Tarapacá, is the Casa de Los Diez. It may look like a colonial building, but it’s not. It’s really a mid-19th century fake colonial building that was home to a group of artists, poets, musicians, sculptors, and writers. It’s not really worth a detour, but thought I’d tell you about it anyway.
Walking back to Alameda from the church, across the street is the Iglesia de San Francisco, which is the oldest surviving building in Santiago, built in 1618. It’s worth a look inside. Attached to the church is the Museo Colonial, which focuses on the colonial period in South America.
The church’s original elements are largely intact, minus the bell towers. The original bricks and woodwork can still be seen.
Down a small winding road next to the church is Barrio París-Londres. It’s a charming area laid out in 1922 that actually makes you feel like you are in Paris or London. The building at 38 Londres was used during the Pinochet regime as a torture chamber for political prisoners.
Next, on the left hand side in a large yellow building is the main building of Universidad de Chile. It’s the oldest university in Chile, founded in 1842, and also the largest.
A short walk from Paseo Ahumada on the right hand side is Club de la Unión, a private club that is also one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It was built in 1925.