Santiago is Chile’s capital and nerve centre. Located in the Metropolitan region, it borders the country’s fifth region to the north and west, the fourth region to the south, and Argentina to the east.
Founded on 12 February 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia at the base of Cerro Huelen, Santiago today marries an historic past with a contemporary present, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in South America.
As well as being the country’s main conurbation, it is also Chile’s political, cultural and economic centre. Its metropolitan area is known as Greater Santiago and is divided into 37 communes, one of which is Nunoa.
The commune is home to the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos, named after one of the country’s most famous sporting journalists. From the moment it was inaugurated in 1938 the venue has played an important part in Chile’s sporting and cultural life. Declared a Historic Monument in 2003, it remains the country’s principal arena thanks to its frequent hosting of the most prestigious sporting, artistic and cultural events taking place there.
Places of interest
The adjoining central neighbourhoods of Lastarria and Bellas Artes captivate with their bohemian charm. They are easily explored on foot and offer a host of cultural and culinary delights, including cafes, bookstores and theatres. The National Contemporary Art and Fine Arts Museums are on the route, as is the Parque Forestal. Much of the area is dotted with historic buildings and old stately homes, all beautifully maintained. Close by you can find the Gabriela Mistral Museum, with stages frequent expositions.
For its part, Nunoa is known for its quality restaurants and wealth of cultural activities. One of the most popular meeting points is Plaza Nunoa, where a diverse range of gastronomic and artistic offerings draw crowds from all over Santiago.
Santiago Centre has plenty to keep its visitors entertained. Among its many attractions is the residence of the President of the Republic, the Palacio La Moneda, a neo-classical building designed in 1785 by the architect Joaquin Toesca to house the national mint. Guided tours of the ground floor, patios and selected rooms are available. On the Palace’s southern side, located beneath Plaza de la Ciudadania is the Centro Cultural La Moneda, which houses the National Film Archive, two temporary exhibition halls, permanent collection spaces as well as shops, bookstores and a cafeteria.
Football is the country’s principal sport and this is reflected in the large number of professional clubs based in the capital. At present these are: Audax Italiano, Colo Colo, Barnechea, Palestino, Union Espanola, Universidad Catolica, Universidad de Chile, Magallanes and Santiago Morning.
Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad Catolica are the city’s most popular sides and account the majority of national league titles. Among the most anticipated derbies every season are those known as el Superclásico (Colo-Colo vs. Universidad de Chile) and el Clásico Universitario (Universidad de Chile vs. Universidad Católica).
Less famous but no less competitive are the capital derbies involving clubs originally created by sectors of immigrants into Chile - Audax Italiano, Union Espanola and Palestino.
While the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos is Chile’s principal arena, Santiago can boast several other important venues, including the Estadio Monumental David Arellano, the Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo, the Estadio Santa Laura and the Estadio Bicentenario Municipal de La Florida.