Last week, whilst I was lying in bed ill with the flu I decided to finally open my guidebook on Chile and take a look at what Santiago has to offer. The answer is a lot! Like all good capital cities it has an array of museums, galleries, cultural centres, parks and much more to offer. And as I shall be here for so long I aim to see it all! Well, at least all the good stuff.
So let’s kick it off with:
El Mercado Central
The Central Market is mostly home to a large number of fishmongers who noisily call out to customers, touting their fresh fish and seafood piled atop large mounds of ice. There were so many things there that I had never seen in my life! Chile certainly has an incredible variety of seafood which I’m hoping to have the opportunity of trying whilst I’m here. The market is housed in a wrought-iron structure constructed in 1872 and whilst its’ neo-classical style was conceived in Chile, actual construction of the parts took place in Great Britain surprisingly. It is considered to be a National Monument and therefore one of the places you must visit on a trip to Santiago.
I visited it with my new family here and we ate Donde Augusto, which I think is the biggest restaurant within the market complex. I had a simple dish of battered local Chilean fish & chips, but the fish was yummy. It was perfectly cooked and didn’t require anything else to make it taste good.
The woman on the table behind me however ordered ‘una centolla’, a large, spiny crab from the extremities of South & North America. It set her back close to £100, but it did look pretty damn tasty.
El Catedral Metropolitana
This must be one of the most beautiful cathedrals that I’ve ever seen; there’s just something about it that I absolutely love. The cathedral is right in the centre of the city. There are always people bustling around outside it, as well as performers and artists. Unfortunately building work going on in the area at the moment rather detracts attention from its’ grand exterior. However this is all forgotten once you step inside the large, wooden doors. The cathedral was built between 1748 and 1800, but has been reconstructed 4 times due to damage from earthquakes and fires.
The interior is resplendent: high, vaulted arches of white marble inlaid with pink marble panelling with gilt borders. I love Catholic cathedrals. They are fabulous. The ceiling of the passage leading to the altar features paintings of various religious scenes, all bordered in gold again. Above the altar, which is made of marble, bronze and lapis lazuli, there is a lovely stained-glass dome. Along both sides of the altar passage there are statues of different saints and the Virgin Mary and Jesus with low-hanging chandeliers that lead to the hall being bathed in a continuous golden light. It is really stunning in my opinion, but my Chilean father told me that the cathedrals in Chile look quite poor in comparison to those in Peru and Bolivia which are naturally much richer in gold. So, maybe I’ll change my opinion once I see those!
PS. The cathedral is in a neo-classical style too, I think I’m starting to see an architectural pattern here..
Also I’m still working on my photography (lack of) skills, think my eyes are skewed to the left and I have a wonky head. But practice makes perfect!