City of Concepción: Welcome to the South

The second most populated city in Chile is rich in academic tradition and home to major timber companies.

Friday, July 24, 2009  
Universidad de Concepción Universidad de Concepción (Photo: Sernatur)

Concepción is the capital of the Bio-Bio region, and was founded by Pedro de Valdivia in 1550.  Over the centuries, it has been besieged and destroyed several times by Mapuche Indians, intense earthquakes, and attacks by European pirates.  As a result, the current city did not settle into its current place until 1751.

The design of the city follows a classic pattern based on the central Independence Plaza, which is surrounded by a myriad of 20th c. buildings, including the Cathedral of Santísima Concepción, the city council, and the University of Concepción Theatre.  Near the plaza, one finds the central market, the courthouse, and the classic restaurant La Fuente Alemana.  According to local claims, the restaurant introduced a well known type of pork sandwich.

Another popular destination for visitors is the neighboring port city of Talcahuano where locals and visitors alike enjoy seafood and empanadas in the Chinatown neighborhood, as well as, places frequented by students during the evenings and the bohemian neighborhood known called the Old Train Station.  An example of the economic productivity in the area is the Huachipato Mine, which remains in operation both day and night.  In contrast, a few kilometers away, one finds El Hualpén Nature Sanctuary, which protects over 2,000 hectares of land.  Many find the views near the Punta Hualpén Light House unforgettable with their overview of both San Pedro Bay and the Bio-Bio River delta.

City Attractions

The undergraduate neighborhood

It is a beautiful area close to the center of the city.  Most of the buildings are less than five stories high and were built in the 1950’s in a neo-Baroque architectural style.  Most of the buildings belong to the University of Concepción are surrounded by extensive gardens.  Notable sites in this neighborhood include the Campanil Tower, the Open Forum, the Art Gallery, and the mural painted by Mexican artist Jorge Gonzales Carmena.
 
Ecuador Park

It is an area filled with an impressive variety of mature trees located next to Caracol Hill.  The park has hosted the International Popular Arts Fair since 1964.

The Central Market

It is an example of a place where one can find the Chilean tradition of markets where buyers and sellers engage in lively exchanges.  The market is close to 40,000 square feet in size and offers a variety of handmade goods, crafts, flowers, food, and traditional cooking.  The market has been occupying the same site since it was built following the 1939 earthquake.  It is located at the intersection of Freire and Caupolicán.

Other Nearby Attractions

Talcahuano Port


It's located 16 kilometers from Concepción and is the region’s main port.  The port is surrounded by hills and covered with small houses.  It is also a point of operations for fisherman, a naval shipyard, and several oil and chemical companies.  While the streets of the port are breathtaking, the most popular point of interest is the Monitor Huáscar, a boat that is an important piece of Chilean history.  The ship was originally a part of the Peruvian navy during the War of the Pacific. Chilean war hero Arturo Pratt famously died on its deck.  However, in 1879, it was captured by the Chilean navy.  The museum continues to attract daily visitors to the exhibit.  
 
The City of Lota

Lota is located 36 km southeast and was the main coal producer in the country largely due to its network of underground and undersea tunnels.  Since 1997, operations have been closed, which has shifted its primary activity from mining to tourism.  Recommended points of interest include: visiting the Market Fair and sampling the sea urchins; visiting Lota Park to witness its 14 hectares of 19th c. European design; visiting the Chiflón del Diablos Mine – an old mine that descends to 850 meters below sea level – and witnessing firsthand a very unique mine. 

Dichato and Pingueral Bays

They are exclusive bays located between Coliumo and Punta Pingueral hills, about 40 km from Concepción.  Dichato Bay is well-known for its gentle waves and white sands that stretch over 2 km.  Compared to Dichato Bay, Pingueral is more upscale and an ideal place for nautical sports.  It also includes tennis courts, shopping, green space, and white sand beaches.  The beach can be accessed by foot for free.

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