Santiago Downtown and Neighbourhoods


Line 1 Metro Stops of Significance
West to East: Republic – Los Heroes – La Moneda – Universidad de Chile – Santa Lucia – Universidad Catolica

Santiago was founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, and the land of Chile claimed on behalf of the Spanish crown. The original location for the base of power was around the Plaza de Armas, whereupon today there are still some of the original buildings from that period.

The centre of Santiago (Santiago Centro), also known as the downtown area, is where the history of both Santiago, and Chile is found, together with cultural places of interest. Outside of the downtown area Santiago, towards the east, is a modern city, which was developed long after the original conquistadores had died.

For information on the history of Santiago and Chile please refer to our page on that or click here: Santiago History

Further below we offer brief descriptions of the places of interest within downtown Santiago, including the neighbourhoods of:
Barrio Yungay
Barrio Brasil
Barrio Paris-Londres
Barrio Lastarria

In addition, we talk about the museums, buildings and places of general interest.

However, before we do, the visitor should be aware that downtown Santiago is a very busy place. Streets are usually very active with many pedestrians, which enables this part of the city to maintain is “Latin flavour”, much more than in the more modern districts. Therefore, for the visitor, the downtown area will give you a glimpse of “the real Chile”, but, as an “outsider” please be alert and aware when walking around and do not “advertise” on your person any valuables.

Downtown Santiago

Principal Places of Interest for the Visitor
The information below has been grouped together in areas where ALL the relevant places of interest can be found within, or close to THAT area. Be it an historic building, museum, or general place of interest.

Below, the information is in a list form, starting with the area located most west in Downtown Santiago and then moving towards the east.

Barrio Yungay Neighbourhood

Nearest Metro Line 1: Republica (north exit)
Located 6 blocks west from Bario Brasil, and then 3 blocks north is the small Yungay Barrio, or 4 blocks north of the metro stop Republica. This was the first neighbourhood in Santiago that drew in the “intellectuals” of the day and where artists, academics and politicians lived and thus created yet another “bubble” of historic Santiago from the early 1990’s. Among the nostalgic experiences here are the pedestrian paths of Adriana Cousiño, Lucrecia Valdés and Rodríguez Hurtado, that have colourful buildings.

Within this area is the Museum of American Popular Art as well as the Novedades and Camino theatres. Indeed, the preserved architectural history in this sector is regarded as “not to be lost” and has been declared a National Monument. One of the suggestions is to take a leisurely walk around the Yungay Plaza and see the church of Los Capuchinos sculpture of Roto Chileno – a character derived from the Battle of Yungay in 1839.

Barrio Brasil Neighbourhood

Nearest Metro Line 1: Republica (northern exit)
Located 7 blocks west from the Moneda Palace and 6 blocks north of the Metro stop called Republica is Barrio Brasil. This is a very small “bubble” of historically pleasing buildings in the old European style where there are a few cool restaurants and bars.

The Moneda Palace Area

Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint)
Metro Line 1: La Moneda (northern exit)

Located between streets Morande and Teatinos in the centre of Downtown. 
Built between 1784 and 1805 (20 years) under the supervision of Italian architect Joaquin Toesca, the low-lying, Neoclassical, symmetrical building was the Royal Mint, which is where the name "moneda" came from because "moneda" means money.

However, after forty years it was used as the presidential palace for Chilean presidents starting with Manuel Bulnes in 1848 and ending with Carlos Ibañez in 1958 when it stopped being the residential address of the president, but continued to be the official seat of government from where the president works. The Palace interior courtyards are open to the public during the day.

The president usually enters each day from the northern side when the Carabinero guards stands to attention as he walks through. In front of the Moneda Palace, northern side is a grass covered plaza called

Particular areas of interest is the grass covered Plaza de la Constitution where there are also some trees, and diagonal walkways cut through from corner to corner. This is immediately in front of the Moneda Palace (which is the north side). Around this Plaza are sculptures of past presidents of Chile such as: Eduardo Frei Montalva, Diego Portales, Salvador Allende and Jorge Alessandri. And, lined on each side of the square, separated only by a road width from the plaza, are government institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of the Exterior, the Central Bank as well as the council office for Santiago city.

On the other, south side, of the Palace, what some may say is the “real” front is another open space. As a way to mark the 200 hundred years of Chilean independence (in 2006) from the Spanish State, the government converted what used to be a car park into what is now known as “Citizenship Square”. Under this, quite large space is an underground, cultural centre known as the La Moneda Cultural Centre.

Moneda Cultural Centre

Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint)
This is a modern, sub terranean venue on three underground floors under Citizenship Square in front of the La Moneda Palace. It was designed by Chilean architect Cristian Undurraga and finished in 2006 as a project to mark the Chilean Bicentenary Independence year as well as put Santiago on the “cultural map”.

Here, there can be very interesting exhibits, as, for example there was when original paintings by British artist Turner were displayed here, accompanied by reception and a viewing of a documental film about the artist.

In addition, there are functions here for product launches and to show case exhibitions.

There are three exhibition halls, two cinemas, a design gallery and a visual arts documentation centre, plus a café and hand craft shop.

The mix of modern interior design together with good lighting and large spaces within an historic setting has been executed exceptionally well. When inside this building one could easily be forgiven for thinking that you are in New York or London such is the look and ambience.

Museo de Arte Precolombino

Bandera 361 corner with Compañia

Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (northern exit).

One block right from Moneda Palace to Bandera Street and then 3 blocks up.
Considered to be one of the best museums in South America that chronicles over 4,000 years of Pre-Columbian civilization.
Closed Monday.
Open: Tue to Fri 10:00hrs to 18:00hrs. Sat, Sun and Holidays 10:00hrs to 14:00hrs. 

Palacio Cousiño (Colonial Home)
Dieciocho 438

Metro Line 1: Los Heroes (Southern exit)

Taxi needed or a good walk south, about 6 blocks, from Metro Line 1: Los Heroes. 
An elaborate 19th-century mansion dating back to 1871. Built by the Cousiño family from wealth accumulated from coal and silver mining. Well preserved images from an elite life.
Open: Tues - Sun: 09:30hrs - 12:30hrs. 14:30hrs -16:00hrs. Tel: 698 5063

Barrio Paris-Londres Sub District

Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)

A small, historic area located behind, but close to the San Francisco church. Narrow streets and interesting, old European style architecture.

Located on the south side of the main Alameda Avenue, on the opposite side of the road to Moneda Palace some 5 blocks east, and in between metro stops Universidad de Chile and Santa Lucia.

Just behind the San Francisco Church is the historic, old 1920’s European-looking neighbourhood called Paris-Londres. In places there are still cobbled streets, small cafes, restaurants and little plazas. And, of course there is the San Francisco Church, beside which is the Colonial Museum containing archaeological artefacts from the time of the conquest.

One particular building in this neighbourhood at Londres 38 is a beautiful building, declared a Historical Monument and where victims under the last dictatorship are remembered.

Iglesia de San Francisco

Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)

Constructed between 1586 and 1628 (44 years), this is the OLDEST building in Santiago having survived three major earthquakes. The small, carved Virgin del Socorro on the main alter, was brought to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia, on his saddle, in 1541.

Museo Colonial de San Francisco 
Alameda 834

Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)

Located along the side of the San Francisco church (dating back to 1618 having survived all the earthquakes, entrance is by the church). Colonial building displaying numerous artefacts and an attractive central garden.

Area Around the Plaza de Armas

La Plaza de Armas 
Metro Line 5: Plaza de Armas (northern exit)

The OFFICIAL centre of Santiago and CHILE. This where all the national road distances are measured from. The first public space laid out by Pedro de Valdivia in shortly after his arrival in 1541, when he constructed a fort on this spot, hence the name Plaza de Armas (Plaza of Arms). It is in this area where people used to congregate and come to market. A number of important buildings such as the Cathedral, Governor's Palace and the Law Courts were built close the plaza.
Museo Historico Nacional (National History Museum)

Located beside the Plaza de Armas and next to the "Correo Central" (Central Post Office, see below). The building now housing the history museum was built by the Spanish Crown between 1804 and 1807 to be a courthouse, however, after just three years the first military junta met here in 1810 to plan the overthrow of the then Spanish Governor. Eight years later it was used as the first Congress building and then became the seat of government, until 1846 when President Bulnes moved the government to La Moneda.


Located beside the "Plaza de Armas", on the corner close to the "Correo Central". The Cathedral was built in 1785, with Italian influence in its design from the Italian architect Joaquin Toesca, who also designed La Moneda Palace. It is the FIFTH church to be on this site as the previous buildings were demolished by native Indians or earthquakes (1552, 1647 and 1730).

Correo Central (Central Post Office)

Built in 1882 on the foundations of what was previously the Governor's residence, which explains its elegant interior, which later became the Presidential Palace, during the colonial period. This building is next to the now National History Museum.

Mercado Central (Central Food Market & Restaurants)

Metro Line 2: Cal y Canto (southern exit)

The building was constructed between 1868 and 1872 with sections prefabricated in England and designed by Fermin Vivaceta for the purpose of exhibiting works of art, but it quickly became used as a market. Today the market is still active, and it is an interesting place where to eat. A number of restaurants that specialize in fish dishes surround the principal hall where one can eat and admire the fish, meat and vegetables on display amid the flurry of market activity.

Barrio Lastarria Neighbourhood

Metro Line 1: Universidad Católica (northern exit)
This is a small corner of downtown located adjacent to the Providencia district, and bordering to the southern side of the Parque Forestal, as well as being only a few meters from the northern exit of the metro stop Universidad Catolica. Here, there are older, European-style buildings, boutique-style restaurants, and cafes as well as an arty cinema and two drama theatres. And, spread out along a pedestrian pathway between the streets Rosal and Merced, there is an antiques fair, with stalls offering books and interesting artefacts from the past. More recently another pedestrian access route has been created via the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center from the main Alameda Street.

It certainly has a “vibe” not found in other parts of the city, and is popular with visitors coming to Santiago.

The history of Lastarria goes back to the 16thC when two vineyards surrounded the immediate area. These two vineyards were then divided into smaller lots. Today, the dividing lines separating some of these lots is where the streets of Padre Luis de Valdivia and Victoria Subercaseux are positioned, as well as the other streets and passages that intersect into Lastarria from the Alameda and Merced as well as the Parque Forestal.

In the centre of Lastarria there is the Church of Veracruz, built between 1852 to 1857 in the neoclassical form.

Also, in and around Lastarria is the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Visual Arts and on its periphery, the Bellas Artes, the Museum of La Merced and the Museum of Santiago.

In recent years a new gastronomic sector has been created called “Plaza Lastarria Boulevard” and here there are numerous restaurants offering fine food and a nice atmosphere, some with outdoor “al fresco” eating areas.

Museo Arqueologico de Santiago 

Lastarria 321

Metro Line 1: Universidad Catolica (northern exit)

Set amid the historical, small Lastarria neighbourhood, with interesting cafes and art galleries, this museum offers a number of exhibits from the indigenous peoples of Chile.

Museo de Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts Museum)

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern exit)

Founded in 1880, the Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts) is located within the Parque Forestal, beside the Jose de Miguel de La Barra road which passes by the front entrance.

The Bellas Artes is Santiago's fine arts museum, displaying permanent collections of French, Italian, Dutch and Chilean paintings and often hosting very interesting visiting exhibits including, when they are on tour, some World-renowned exhibitions.

The Bellas Artes Building
The actual building was designed by Frenchman Emile Jéquier's, who based the façade and the entrance on the Petit-Palais in Paris. The look and history of the building was considered to be of high importance to Chile and therefore it was declared a National Monument in 1976, and at the same time the library was created containing material, primarily, on over 2,000 Chilean artists.

Once inside the Bellas Artes you will notice a dome above the central hall. This was constructed in Belgium and shipped to Chile in sections. The same company that built the dome also constructed the roof covering the Mapocho Central Train Station (now not in service). On the surface of the outer wall there are 22 acknowledgements of iconic artists such as Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Velásquez and Guiotto. There is also reference to the Chilean sculptor and painter Guillermo Córdova.

On Show
The Bellas Artes Museum has over 5,000 different artistic artefacts on display covering painting, photography, sculpture, video, architectural design and even performance art. In the main hall is the permanent exhibition, but in the breakout rooms, which are on various floors, there are temporary displays.

The Parque Forestal
This is a city park with many trees, hence the name “forestal”. It was established over 130 years ago and offers residents, as well as visitors, a chance to walk through a green space under the cover of tree shade. The Park runs adjacent to the south side of the Cardenal Jose Maria Caro main road which, in turn, is adjacent to the south side of the Mapocho River, and fills the space from close to Bellavista at the eastern end to the old Central train station, at the western end, making it a much longer space than wide.

Cerro Santa Lucia

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern exit)
History tells us that THIS is the spot where Pedro de Valdivia officially founded the new settlement of "Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura" (named after his birth town in Spain) on February 12, 1541. At that time the area around Santiago was populated by native Mapuche Indians, scattered around the valleys and hills of the Central Valley.

When Valdivia arrived, Santa Lucia hill was barren and rocky, yet to-day it is covered in lush vegetation and has beautiful gardens in which to walk. It was mostly ignored until 1872 when Vicuna Mackenna (the intendente, or mayor of the city) oversaw the construction of new streets and turned Santa Lucia into a terraced garden for "the people" with the muscle power of over 150 prisoners.

It is a nice place to walk within, with a lot of tree shade and the Hidalgo Castle, which is used these days mainly as an event centre.

Teatro Municipal

Agustinas corner, with San Antonio Street

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern side)

Opera and Ballet March to December.
This is another iconic building for Santiago. An elegant theatre that hosts mainly classical concerts, ballet and opera.

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