Santiago, by design

None of us had expected the city that greeted us.  My own vision of Santiago had been of an industrial city, unkempt, tired and worn at the edges with obvious poverty, pollution and crime.   That was not what greeted us.

Santiago view from San Cristóbal Hill

We found a beautiful urban area of wide boulevards, modern architecture and tree-lined avenues – grand mature trees providing beauty and shade.  In the Providencia district where we stayed, every few blocks we encountered a park bench, always out of the sun, streets lined with beautiful gated homes, and broad sidewalks in good repair …

We took the gondola up San Cristóbal Hill where the park with its zoo and camping grounds was being well used by cyclists, joggers, families with children – all enjoying summer in their city.

San Cristóbal Hill

Santiago sits in a basin about 520 m or 1,706.04 ft above sea level – the Andes Mountains can be seen from most vantage points in the city.  It is Chile’s largest city, just topping 6 million in 2012 – over a third of all Chileans.

The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards, and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

vineyards outside Santiago Chile

In 1541 the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, founded the city, placing the native Picunche Indians under the rule of the Spanish settlers.  The region is subject to earthquakes, the most recent a magnitude 8.8 that was centred some 200 miles  to the southwest of the city.  While causing massive damage to outer regions, Santiago sustained minimal damage in 2010 but due to earlier quakes there are few buildings older than 200 years and Santiago has become one of the most modern cities in South America.

Santiago from space stationSantiago from the space station – Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jake’s Sunday Post: Urban Design

8 thoughts on “Santiago, by design

    1. I was really very pleasantly surprised, Jo, and it’s location allows for a trip into the mountains and a trip to the ocean in the same day – like Vancouver.


    1. There must be … can’t have urban with decay and poverty on the side but nothing evident in the areas we were in. It’s the fact that some cities don’t have the counter balance of broad walks, clean shaded streets and parks that locals enjoy being in that is very sad.


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