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Valparaíso is a major city, seaport, and educational center in the county or commune of Valparaíso, Chile. Greater Valparaíso is the second largest metropolitan area in the country. Valparaíso is located 111.8 kilometres (69.5 miles) northwest of Santiago and is one of the South Pacific's most important seaports. Valparaíso is the capital of Chile's third most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990.
Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as "Little San Francisco" and "The Jewel of the Pacific". In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World HeritageSite
Examples of Valparaíso's renown glory include Latin America's oldest stock exchange, the continent's first volunteer fire department, Chile's first public library, and the oldest Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication in the world, El Mercurio de Valparaíso.
The second half of the twentieth century was not kind to Valparaíso, as many wealthy families abandoned the city. The opening of the Panama Canal and reduction in ship traffic dealt a staggering blow to Valparaíso’s port-based economy. However, over the past 15 years, the city has staged an impressive renaissance, attracting many artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up shop in the city's hillside historic districts. Today, many thousands of tourists visit Valparaíso from around the world to marvel at the city's unique labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful buildings. The port of Valparaíso continues to be a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit exports. Valparaíso also receives growing attention from cruise ships that visit during the South American summer. Most significantly, Valparaíso has transformed itself into a major educational center with four large traditional universities and several large vocational colleges. The city exemplifies Chilean culture, with festivals every year, and a number of street artists and musicians.
|POPULATION :||• City 284,630|
• Urban 275,141
• Metro 930,220
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CLT (UTC−4)|
• Summer (DST) CLST (UTC−3)
|AREA :||401.6 km2 (155.1 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||10 m (30 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||33°03′S 71°37′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49%|
• Female: 51%
|AREA CODE :||32|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+56 32|
|WEBSITE :||Official website|
Valparaíso is a city of around 300,000 on the Pacific coast of Central Chile. Frequently referred to as simply Valpo, it is located approximately 120 km west of the capital, Santiago de Chile. The city is widely known for its bohemian culture, brightly colored houses, and beautiful seaside views.
Valparaiso is an important port town, and has been for hundreds of years, resulting in its being a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Its location in the shipping routes before the completion of the Panama Canal, has left a legacy that still can be seen in various features of the old port town. Its location in the earthquake zone, and the disastrous earthquake of 1906, is another legacy. It has had more recent earthquakes as well.
The old town is surrounded with features that evoke an era of a rich maritime heritage, and an important location of Chilean national pride - where its naval mastery was challenged and maintained.
When roaming the chaotic, hilly streets, and taking in the views and ambiance, you are not just experiencing the port amongst the colourful houses, or the funicular railways, but a complex history of Chilean national identity and politics.
The old town is suitably compared to the more modern Vina del Mar just to the north, and the hinterland that leads over to Santiago.
There is also an active nightlife and a constantly changing variety of artistic events.
Valparaíso's bay was probably first populated by the Picunche natives, known for their agriculture, or the Chango people, who were nomads dedicated to fishing, and traveling between modern-day Caldera and Concepcion. Spanish explorers, considered the first European discoverers of Chile, arrived in 1536 aboard theSantiaguillo, a supply ship sent by Diego de Almagro. The Santiaguillo carried men and supplies for Almagro's expedition, under the command of Juan de Saavedra, who named the town after his native village of Valparaíso de Arriba in Cuenca, Spain.
During Spanish colonial times, Valparaíso remained a small village, with only a few houses and a church.
In 1810 a wealthy merchant built the first pier in the history of Chile and the first during the colonial era. In its place today, stands the building of El Mercurio de Valparaíso. The ocean then rose to this point. Reclamation of land from the sea moved the coastline five blocks away. Between 1810 and 1830 he built much of the existing port of the city, including much of the land reclamation work that now provides the city's commercial centre.
After Chile's independence from Spain (1818), beginning the Republican Era, Valparaíso became the main harbour for the nascent Chilean navy, and opened international trade opportunities that had been formerly limited to Spain and its other colonies.
Valparaíso soon became a desired stopover for ships rounding South America via the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn. It gained particular importance supporting and supplying the California Gold Rush (1848–1858). As a major seaport, Valparaíso received immigrants from many European countries, mainly from Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy. German, French, Italian and English were commonly spoken among its citizens, who founded and published newspapers in these languages.
International immigration transformed the local culture from Spanish origins and Amerindian origins, in ways that included the construction of the first non-Catholic cemetery of Chile, The Cemetery of Dissidents. Football (soccer) was introduced to Chile by English immigrants; and the first private Catholic school in Chile (Le Collège des Sacrés Cœurs, “The College of the Sacred Hearts”), French immigrants in Valparaíso; which has been operating for about 170 years. Immigrants from Scotland and Germany founded the first private secular schools, (The Mackay School, and Die Deutsche Schule,respectively). Immigrants formed the first volunteer fire-fighting units (still a volunteer activity in Chile). Their buildings reflected a variety of European styles, making Valparaíso more varied than some other Chilean cities.
In August 18, 1906; a major earthquake struck Valparaíso; there was extensive property damage and thousands of deaths. The Chilean doctor Carlos Van Buren, of U.S. descent, was involved in medical care of earthquake victims. He later established a modern hospital Carlos Van Buren Hospital in 1912.
The golden age of Valparaíso's commerce ended after the opening of the Panama Canal (1914). Shipping shifted to the canal as captains sought to avoid the risks of the Strait of Magellan. The port's use and traffic declined significantly, causing a decline in the city's economy. Since the turn of the 21st century, shipping has increased in the last few decades with fruit exports, increasing opening of the Chilean economy to world commerce, and larger-scale, Post-Panamax ships that do not fit the Panama Canal.
On March 28, 1814, the USS Essex is defeated by British frigates Phoebe andCherub during the War of 1812, leading to the deaths of 58 US Marines. (Captain David Porter, a survivor of this attack, would retire to Portersville, IN and request changing the name to Valparaíso, commemorating the only naval battle he ever lost.) By August 2, 1820, the Liberating Expedition of Peru sails from Valparaíso.
At half past ten on the evening of November 19, 1822 Valparaíso experienced occurs a violent earthquake that leaves the city in ruins; of the 16,000 residents, casualties included at least 66 adults and 12 children, as well as 110 people wounded. The next day a meteor trail was visible from Quillota to Valparaíso, seen as a religious experience for much of the population.
In 1826, the Royal Navy Great Britain establishes a South America Station in Valparaíso to maintain British naval interest in the region. It would remain until 1837 when it was relocated to Esquimalt, British Columbia.
September 12, 1827 saw the establishment of El Mercurio de Valparaíso, currently the oldest circulating newspaper in the Spanish language worldwide.
In May 1828, a constitutional convention begins regular meeting in the church of San Francisco. By August 9, the Constitution of the Republic of Chile would be fully drafted and disseminated.
On June 6, 1837, Minister Diego Portales is shot at the port outside of Baron Hill on suspicion of promoting conspirators who opposed the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, considered a turning point of Chilean public opinion and the purpose of the war.
By 1851, the first fire brigade in the country is formed. The next year potable running water becomes available, as well as the first telegraph service in Latin America, between the city and Santiago. It would be another four years before streetlights, with 700 gas lanterns, are installed. In 1861 the first tram company is formed, mostly using horse or mules to draw them, and fully established over the next few years.
Taking advantage of the total lack of defenses a Spanish fleet commanded by Casto Méndez Núñez bombarded the city during the Spanish-South American war in 1866. Chilean merchant ships are sunk, except for those vessels whose captains hoisted foreign flags.
A merger of the National Steamship Company and Chilean Steamship Company, the South American Steamship Company was created as a national response to the increasing dominance of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company in 1872. In 1880 the Chilean Telephone Company is formed by Americans Joseph Husbands, Peter MacKellar, James Martin, and the US consul Lucius Foot, the first official telephone company in the country. Three years later on the first of December, Concepción funicular opens, the first of many hydraulic systems.
After the country's independence and its consequent openness to international trade, Valparaíso becomes an important port of call on trade routes through the Eastern Pacific. Many immigrants settled there, mostly from Europe and North America, who helped include Valparaíso and Chile in the industrial revolution sweeping other parts of the world. This created a different city with civil, financial, commercial and industrial institutions, many of which still exist today.
All this resulted in a population increases. The city reached more than 160,000 inhabitants in the late nineteenth century, making it necessary to use the steep hills for more houses, mansions and even cemeteries. The lack of available land caused the city authorities and developers to reclaim low lying tidal marshland (polder) to build administrative, commercial and industrial infrastructure.
The twentieth century began with the first big protest of dockworkers, Chile on April 15, 1903, due to complaints by Dockers about their excessive working hours and demands for higher wages, requests that were ignored by employers, creating a tense situation that led to serious violence on May 12. There were protests and the burning of the CSAV offices and several people were shot and killed. All this prompted intervention by the state. This protest was important for the future of Trade Unionism in the country.
The same year, electric trams appeared.
The 1906 Valparaíso earthquake caused severe damage throughout the city on August 16, which was at that time the heart of the Chilean economy.
Damage was valued at hundreds of millions of pesos of the time, and human victims were counted at 3,000 dead and over 20,000 injured. After removing the debris, reconstruction work began. These included the widening of streets, culverting and covering streams, (Jaime and Delicias - creating the current avenues Francia and Argentina respectively). The main street of the city (Pedro Montt) was laid and Plaza O'Higgins was created a hill was removed to allow the passage of Colon Street. The damaged Edwards mansion was demolished and in its place the present Cathedral of Valparaíso was built and, among many other works, this gave shape to the current Almendral Valparaíso area.
In 1910 the port expansion work of the city, which ended in 1930, began. A long breakwater was built, along with piers and docking terminals.
The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 caused a severe reduction of port activity as Valparaíso lost its vital role as the major stopping point for shipping going from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific via the Magellan channel.
Currently Chile's legislature along with other institutions of national importance like the National Customs Service, the National Fish and Aquaculture Ministry, the Ministry of Culture and the Barracks General of the Chilean Navy are sited in the city. In addition to the capital of the Valparaíso Region hosts the Regional Administration and government.
In February 2013, about 105 homes were destroyed in Valparaíso, affecting 1,200 people. On April 13, 2014 a huge brush fire burned out of control, destroying 2,800 homes and killing 16 people, forcing President Michelle Bachelet to declare it a disaster zone.
Valparaíso is located in central Chile, 120 km (75 mi) to the north west of the capital Santiago. Valparaíso, like most of Chile, is vulnerable to earthquakes. Before the earthquake of February 27, 2010, which measured 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale, the last catastrophic earthquake to strike Valparaíso devastated the city in August 1906, killing nearly 3,000 people. Other significant earthquakes to affect the city were the 1730 Valparaíso earthquake and the 1985 Algarrobo earthquake.
Because of Valparaíso's proximity to the Peru–Chile Trench, the city is vulnerable to earthquakes. The Peru–Chile Trench stores large amounts of energy for a very long time and sometimes ruptures after short intervals in a violent earthquake.
Major industries include tourism, culture, shipping and freight transport.
Approximately 50 international cruise ships call on Valparaíso during the 4-month Chilean summer. The port of Valparaíso is also an important hub for container freight and exports many products, including wine, copper, and fresh fruit.
There are two large shopping centres and various other major retail development:
- Portal Valparaíso (Jumbo/Easy/Paris/La Polar)
- Harbour Station Mall
- Baron Square
- Kenrick Mall
- Axis Avenida Pedro Montt
- Axis Avenida Uruguay
- Axis Avenida Condell
Port of Valparaíso
The port of Valparaíso is divided into ten sites which sites 1,2,3,4 and 5 are administered by South Pacific Terminal SA and sites 6,7,8,9 and 10 for Valparaíso Port Company. The last two sites include a dock and are used as public walks and cruise passenger terminal.
Valparaíso is the main container and passenger port in Chile, transferring 10 million tons annually, and serves about 50 cruises and 150,000 passengers.
Prices in Valparaiso
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.25|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$5.30|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$16.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$38.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$62.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$5.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.75|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.85|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$6.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$11.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.20|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$4.60|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.85|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$55.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$38.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$68.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$1.10|
47 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
154 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Valparaiso does not have its own airport. The closest airport with commercial service is Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, some 1.5 hours away, which offers extensive domestic and international service.
To get to Valparaíso from Santiago's airport, you will catch a bus heading to Pajaritos outside of the airport terminal. This will drop you off at the North side of "Pajaritos" a bus/subway station on the outskirts of Santiago, cross to the South side of the Subway station to get to the Bus Platform. From here, buses leave frequently for Valparaiso and other destinations; you may also take the subway into downtown Santiago. It is generally not necessary to have a bus ticket before arriving at Pajaritos.
The Metro Valparaíso or Merval runs between Valparaiso and Limache, as well as surrounding communities.[www] It runs from 6AM to 11:30PM, and is new, clean and fast. Adult fares range from Ch$204 to Ch$1080 depending on the time of day and the distance travelled, but value cards of a minimum of Ch$1200 must be used; single tickets are not sold.
While Valparaiso itself can be a bit of a difficult city in which to drive, the area's highway system is generally of good quality. Note that there are often tolls on highways.
Buses from a wide variety of destinations within Chile have scheduled service to Valparaiso, in addition to service to the Argentine city of Mendoza. The bus terminal is located close to the National Congress building.
Approximate bus travel times to/from Valparaiso:
- 1.5 hours: Santiago de Chile (many times every hour)
- 7 hours: La Serena (every other hour)
- 12 hours: Mendoza, Argentina (the road may be closed in winter due to bad weather)
Local buses also ply between Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, taking about 15 minutes each way. Fares range from Ch$350 to Ch$380.
Some cruise ships dock in Valparaiso, mostly as part of a long South American itinerary. Also possible is a Freighter Cruise from Mexico, taking two weeks and making several stops along the way.
Transportation - Get Around
The city micros are run by Transporte Metropolitano Valparaíso. [www] Exact routes and fares can be found under "Empresas" on the website, and single journeys cost about Ch$250 for local routes and Ch$300 for routes running between El Plan and the hills.
Colectivos are taxis painted in black with yellow roofs that run fixed routes, and are a very common mode of transport between (and within) Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, and other surrounding areas. The cost of the trip, while more expensive than the bus or metro, depends upon the distance being traveled following a system of zones. There are also regular taxis that do custom rides, but they are less common and more expensive. This type of taxis often congregate in the area around the Plaza Anibal Pinto.
The recently completed light-rail system, Metro Valparaíso or Merval, runs along the coast. It starts at Valparaiso's port and heads into Viña del Mar and other more rural locales. The metro provides quick access to major places of interest, and is only slightly more expensive than taking public buses. Adult fares range from Ch$204 to Ch$1080 depending on the time of day and the distance travelled, but value cards of a minimum of Ch$1200 must be used; single tickets are not sold.
Ascensores, funiculars, ply between El Plan, or the coastal strip, with the cerros, or hillside communities. They are for the most part old and creaky, but generally reliable. There were historically a bigger number operating in the past. Check - as some close for repairs or simply dont operate any more. The fare may sometimes differ between going up and going down, but cost about Ch$300 each way. Theascensors are a unique mode of transportation in Valparaiso, and offer gorgeous views of the cityscape, port, and the Pacific Ocean.
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Valparaiso has larger chain department stores like Ripley, located in front of Victoria square, and Falabella on Independencia street, and large supermarket chains like Líder on Pedro Montt and Brasil streets; Santa Isabel on Pedro Montt, Brasil and Uruguay streets, as other small and non-chain supermarkets. There are other small or non-chain and specialized stores on Esmeralda, Condell, Pedro Montt, Independencia and Chacabuco streets, most other shopping is done in small stores on the hills, or with street vendors. There is a large shopping centre on the eastern end of Avenida Brasil.
The most traditional food for tourists in Valparaiso is the Chorrillana, a heaping mound of french fries topped with steak, onion, and eggs. You can eat this in the traditional restaurant J Cruz. Fresh seafood is readily available in many restaurants around the city, especially around the muelle (wharf) areas, and is considered a must for any seafood lover.
Bakeries are located on nearly every block, and produce quite delicious breads that can be had warm and right out of the oven at almost any time throughout the day. They are best enjoyed smothered with Palta, which are grown en masse in Chile (palta is the Chilean and Argentinian word for what is known the anglo world like "avocado", known in most other Spanish-speaking countries as aguacate). In addition to the many types of bread, another widely available snack to keep you settled as you walk the streets are empanadas, a flaky pastry, almost like a French croissant, filled with meat or cheese.
On the second floor of the Mercado Cardonal (cnr Ave Brasil and Uruguay) there are a few excellent, cheap and midrange restaurants serving lunch.
- Chile - Suecia, Calle Bellavista (Just off the square). Open even on Sundays. Good sandwiches, hot dogs and set menus at $2500.
- El Valenciano, Avenida Colon 3110, . Delicious chicken, good sandwiches and good value meals.
- Estación Cielo Amierto, Ferrari 68 (Cerro Bellavista). A cute cafe on the Cerro Bellavista which has juices, smoothies, and sandwiches.
- Bijoux (Bijoux Restobar), Abtao 561-A, Cerro Concepcion, , e-mail: [email protected]. Beautiful little Restaurant in the heart of Cerro Concepciòn. Instead of a menu card, the chef and owner comes to you and according to the daily market specialities and your wishes he creates an individual menu just for you.The food is always fresh, delicious and offers an unique experience in Chile. cl$7900.
- Le Filou Montpellier Almte Montt 382. Great French-run restaurant in Cerro Concepciòn.
- Epif Calle Dr. Grossi 268, Cerro Alegre. Tastey vegetarian food and drinks at reasonable prices. Cozy cafe environment with great music and service.
- Delicatessen Emporio, Urriola 383, C. Concepcion (Head north (and up) from the Armada main buiding - two blocks), . Beautiful food in a small, romantic setting. Carpaccio with oysters was exquisite, Garbanzo soup was flavorful (read: spicey), fresh and probably the best I've ever had. 7,500 for a full lunch.
Sights & Landmarks
- Cerros Alegre and Concepción
- Plaza Echaurren – Serrano Street
- Cerro Cordillera
- Banking area - Prat Street
- Paseo 21 de Mayo (Cerro Artilleria)
- La Matriz Church and surroundings
- Ascensores (inclines)
- La Sebastiana, one of three homes of poet Pablo Neruda
- Ex Cárcel, a former jail turned cultural center and concert venue
- , Paseo 21 de Mayo 45, at top of Ascensor Artillería, . Tuesday to Sunday, 10AM to 6PM. This museum is dedicated to military naval exploits and battles, and puts a large focus on the Chilean victory against Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific.
- Plaza Sotomayor. The central square near the port and the heart of the old seaport city.
Things to do
Going to Valparaiso and not going on the ascensores (inclines) is like going to Venice and not taking a ride on a Gondola, only that the ascensores cost as little as 100 Chilean Pesos (around 20 US cents). They are also of practical use as they help many local people get to the higher parts of town, saving them from having to walk otherwise long and steep pedestrian routes.
During the last week in the year, Valparaiso holds an annual carnival that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Each year the festival centers around a different country, from which performers and artists are invited to come and represent their culture and their work in theater, music, and the performance arts. Most activities are free and are held outdoors. The celebration culminates with a New Year firework display that within five of the most beautiful in the planet. Oops, but get ready in time because the city's population triples on those dates. I recommend visiting the Mirador del Cerro Artillery, panoramic view of the city of Viña del Mar, Reñaca, Concón and more ... It reaches through the "lift" Artillery, in operation since 1893 (ask for Customs plaza area), its current value is 250 Chilean pesos, on the first floor is the Mirador "Walk May 21," (delivered to the community in the year 1911) in which impossible not to enjoy the restaurant "Calafquén", typical dishes of fresh seafood, with a fair value. We are here with a Craft Fair in which they can buy from winter clothing (ponchos, Ruan, scarves, socks, gloves, wool hats), souvenir of the most varied models and prices, up figures and jewelry from lapis lazuli (blue stone semi-precious which is only in Chile and Afghanistan), by price and quality of the stone, I recommend the last local. Also visit the Naval Museum "(500 Chilean pesos) whose income is in the midst of the Paseo.
- The German Pirate (myvalparaiso.cl). Amazing tour by a German man who's lived in Valparaiso for years. He seems to know everything and everyone about the place. He speaks Spanish, English and German. Discounts for groups. You're unlikely to find a more immersive tour of Valparaiso.
On weekends, the time to go out for a drink (Chilean people call it "salir de carrete") starts no earlier than midnight, though somewhat earlier during the week. The pubs and clubs close at 5AM on weekends, and 4AM on weekdays.
Drinking alcohol in the streets is not allowed and 18 years is the minimum age for drinking alcohol, though enforcement of these rules is somewhat lax. If you are under 18, you may not be allowed entry into some pubs.
Chile is a major wine-producing country, and bottles of fairly tasty wines can be had for slightly more than US$1.
- La Torre - offers inexpensive drinks, and is frequented by university students
- La Piedra Feliz - a more expensive and touristy club that often features salsa dancing, mosty for the older crowds
- Club El Cielo
- Club Stockolmo
- Club El Huevo - one of the largest dance clubs in Valparaiso
- Bar La Playa
- Mascara - caters to an artsy and gay/lesbian crowd
- El Huevo - very large (five floors), diverse music, and a rooftop bar
Many clubs and bars are also found in Viña del Mar. Public transportation and taxis continue to run throughout the night, making it entirely feasible to have accommodations in one city while going out for the night in the other.
Safety in Valparaiso
In the context of Chile being a relatively safe country, Valparaiso is among its more dangerous locales, like many harbour cities around the world. Mainly, watch out for pickpockets, for instance avoid hanging your purse or bag in the back of your chair when seated, because it may get stolen. Violent crime is very uncommon, but normal precautionary measures should be taken; while in the street, do not display expensive jewelry. The port area (called "Puerto") is generally considered to be dangerous even during the day.