One of Chile’s best known landmarks gets a makeover

Santiago’s treasured funicular will be revamped, improving access to Cerro San Cristobal for legions of view-hungry visitors.

Santiago is a city full of tourist attractions of all shapes and sizes, but everyone will tell you Cerro San Cristobal — the mighty Andean spur that protrudes into the capital — is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Chilean capital.

Towering hundreds of meters above the city’s high rises and forming the pinnacle of the vast Santiago Metropolitan Park (PMS), Cerro San Cristobal is best visited by the funicular — a hugely popular attraction in and of itself and now the subject of a major refurbishment project.

Subsecretary of the Housing Ministry Francisco Irarrázaval and PMS Director Mauricio Fabry gave details of the renovation at a press conference last month at the foot of this treasured monument.

New carriages will be built with a continuous glass, UV-filtering roof — which promises to offer  impressive panoramic views of the city on the way up— have space forty seated passengers and enjoy a new color scheme to ensure the vehicles’ visibility among the thick green plant life the surrounds the route up the mountain.

Irrarázaval also announced increased safety measures such as close circuit television to allow the driver extra visibility as well as the addition of sensor-activated emergency brakes.

“Plus we will adapt a carriage for universal access. Thereby ensuring that people with limited mobility will be able to use the funicular, something that until now has not been possible,” he said.

Fabry emphasized the importance of this unique, family friendly attraction for the city’s booming tourism industry.

“The funicular is one of the city’s principal tourist attractions as well as being a Historical Monument,” he said. “There its improvement is of utmost importance for the [PMS] both in terms of its popularity — attracting around half a million visitors per year — and its value as an icon of the city.”

The project is estimated to cost around US$ 2 million and will take around 6-8 months. Work will begin in mid-2015.