I had some time to kill after seeing La Serena, so I decided to jump on a bus and head to the neighboring town of Coquimbo. I thought it would be an interesting place to check out because it’s a port city that was settled by a lot of English immigrants in the 1800s.
I took the #1 bus from Francisco de Aguirre in La Serena, and paid the driver CLP $600 for the ride. 20 minutes later I got off the bus when I reached the edge of the city. My first stop was a mosque crowning the top of a small hill. I walked up a hill in what turned out to be a pretty shady neighborhood. I definitely had to look out for myself while I was up there.
The mosque, Mezquita Mohammed VI, is a mosque and Islamic cultural center built in 2007 with a donation from the government of Morocco. The minaret is an exact replica of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, and stands 43m high.
The prayer hall of the mosque was beautiful. Almost all of the work was carved by craftsmen from Morocco. Each dome represented a different dynasty of Moroccan kingdoms. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside, but I was able to take a picture of the tiled ablutions fountain and a few other external features. The view from the mosque was also very nice. I got a panoramic view of the whole city.
Visible on top of a hill above the city center is the Cruz del Tercer Milenio, erected in 2001. It is a monumental cross 83m in height, making it the tallest monument in Chile. I didn’t go up there because it was too cloudy, plus I was too lazy to climb the hill. Probably more lazy than anything.
Next, I walked through the main street in the city center of Coquimbo. The first point of interest was Plaza de Armas. It was full of trees and had lots of vendors, just like most Plaza de Armas’ in Chile. It was also surrounded by lots of historical buildings and a nice little church, Iglesia San Pedro.
A few of the streets off the plaza had some interesting scenery, especially looking uphill.
Continuing along the road I came to the part of town settled by the English, Barrio Inglés. It’s a bohemian area full of 19th century buildings, pubs, clubs, and cafés. I’m sure it’s much different and has more life at night.
Continuing through the barrio, I found a couple more less interesting plazas. They were Plaza Vicuña Mackenna and Plaza Londres.
After that I caught the next bus back to La Serena. All in all, I was happy I made the quick trip to Coquimbo, but it’s not a place I would recommend visiting. There isn’t much worth seeing and I didn’t exactly feel safe when I wandered off the main streets.