- Population: 5 Million
- Location: Centrally located in Chile
Santiago de Chile is the capital city of the Republic of Chile, and was originally founded on 2nd February 1541. A plaza was designed and constructed soon after being established, and a fort was also placed in the center of the square, but the buildings were all demolished in a raid on the city. The city was rebuilt, but competition from neighboring cities, as well as several earthquakes, meant it was never to be a leading South American metropolis under the Spanish empire.
Only on independence from the Spanish in the nineteenth century did the city really begin to develop. Later on, under the Pinochet dictatorship, art and culture was stifled, only recovering after the return to democracy.
In the city the Plaza de Armas is a particular masterpiece, full of precious flowers and benches that encircle a fountain. The Palacio de la Moneda, Chile’s government building, is another architectural highlight, built at the end of the 1700s. Santiago’s oldest colonial-era building is the Iglesia de San Francisco, a church whose construction began in 1586. South America’s tallest building, the Gran Torre Santiago, is set to be finished in 2014.
There’s plenty to choose from with regards to nightlife. The historic center is the obvious place to go. Live music is especially popular in the Ñuñoa area of the city, as is Bellavista, a district that’s also widely recognized as having the best places to eat and drink.
The city’s situation in the southern hemisphere means that the climate is reversed from North America and Europe. Summer is between November and March, with average temperatures of almost 30 degrees; meanwhile the coldest months are generally June and July, when daytime temperatures rarely exceed 15 degrees and can drop to zero at night.
Santiago de Chile has one of the world’s most famous backdrops of any city; from the city center the snowy peaks of the Andes can be seen, which are only an hour or two away. There you can take a hike, go horse riding or whitewater rafting, and a weekend of skiing in winter.
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