If the buzzing metropolis of Santiago leaves you feeling a little burnt out, there are a number of green spaces and parks where you can chill out and realign your chakras. To the north of the city lies Santiago’s largest open space – Parque Metropolitano with the Cerro San Cristobal religious site towering 870 meters above the city with an impressively large statue of the Immaculate Mary.You can enjoy the smooth funicular ride up to the top where you can walk around the summit and enjoy great views of the city.
From there you can ride back down and stop off at the Santiago Zoo where for a $6 entry fee you can snap some photos of native Chilean animals including an impressive array of birds, monkeys, alpaca and llamas along with your usual exotic animals including lions, tigers and bears. It may not have anything on the San Diego Zoo, but it’s big enough to be enjoyed over a few hours in the afternoon.
Santiago’s second largest green space houses several museums, a train yard, a few university buildings and the city’s first greenhouse (no longer functioning).
Next to the park, the city’s most important museum, especially during our visit in September, is the Chilean Museum of Memory and Human Rights. It offers an in depth insight into the conditions that created the infamous military coup of September 11th, 1973 and the military government that followed for 17 years after. It is a moving memorial to those all those who were killed during and after the coup, the hardships that the people suffered and the issuance in of the new democratic government by the people in 1990. Wikipedia can fill you in on the full background of the coup. We were fortunate to have our couch surfing host act as our guide for the day to offer an explanation of the exhibits and what it meant to grow up in Chile during that time.
Girl Gone Gallivanting Recommendation: From plush patios in Bellavista to the more serious Human Rights Museum, Santiago offers something for everyone. The five neighbourhoods covered in this post and the previous post are just the tip of the iceberg in exploring Santiago. It’s a city not to be missed on your South America travels.