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Santiago is the vibrant and green Chilean capital with plenty to offer in terms of entertainment and gastronomy. It has the Parque Metropolitano, one of the largest parks by area in the world, with stunning views of both the city, and the Andean landscape beyond. With a Mediterranean climate, and European style architecture, the city could be mistaken as a city in southern Europe. Santiago de Chile, while not as glamorous as its neighbours Buenos Aires, or Rio de Janeiro, is worth a visit, as there are plenty of things to see and do.
Across the city of Santiago, there are a wide range of peaceful parks, and green areas to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Parque Metropolitano is an enormous open plan space with a zoo, Japanese gardens, the San Cristobal viewpoint, and a swimming pool with its grounds. The view of the city, and mountains beyond on a clear day is simply stunning, and surely unique both to South America, and the world. Other areas, such as the Parque de las Esculpturas, which runs along the banks of the Río Mapoche, or Parque Bustamante are also ideal to relax.
Santiago's cultural programme.
Santiago has a diverse programme of cultural events, and activities throughout the year. There are interesting museums that enable you to learn more about Andean, and Chilean culture, such as the Museo de Arte Pre-Colombiano, which has an exhibition running on the culture of indigenous people. The rights of the Mapuche people, who lived in Chile long before the arrival of European settlers, are still a topic of high contention today. There is currently a conflict between the Chilean national government, and the Mapuche over territorial rights in the south. The Mapuche also sell their products at artisan markets around the city, including hand-woven jumpers, scarves, and hats, as well as wooden handcrafts, and jewellery. On the streets, there are regular protests, and gatherings, as people seek to provoke changes from the conservative government.
The city centre itself has a diverse mix of modern buildings of European style, such as the Correo Central, and colonial-style buildings such as the Cathedral. The neighbourhood of Providencia also has beautiful original buildings, clearly built based on European influence, and painted in a broad range of colours. Bellavista is the trendy bohemian barrio of the city, with bars, clubs, and restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. There are also smaller theatres, and museums, including a house belonging to Pablo Neruda, and bakeries that sell middle-eastern pastries.
On the other side of the city, meanwhile, there is the glamorous neighbourhood of Las Condes, with its skyscrapers, and shopping centres. The obvious attraction for those who love shopping is the Sky Costanera, the skyscraper that stands out on every photo of Santiago, and has sixty-three floors of entertainment, as well as offices, and other functions. The arts district is also a great place to find CDs, books, and films at reasonable prices, as well as artisan products made by local people.
Day trips from Santiago.
From Santiago, it is easy to do day trips to places as diverse as Valparaiso, around two hours away, or into the Andean mountains to Cajon del Maipú. There are also vineyards, which overlook the city in Concha y Toro. In this sense, the city offers a fantastic variety of activities just a few hours away, which make great day trips.
Santiago is a fantastic city with something on offer for everyone. It showcases the diversity of Chile itself, with its indigenous peoples, its range of natural landscapes, from the world's driest desert to the Antarctic in Patagonia, and cultural life. It is a city that should not be missed out on, in a trip to South America or Chile.