Cultural tourism on the rise in Chile

International tourists are making Chile’s cultural attractions a priority on their visits.

The historic churches of Chiloé are among Chile’s many cultural attractions. Photo by Pedro Rebolledo Rubilar/Wikicommons
The historic churches of Chiloé are among Chile’s many cultural attractions. Photo by Pedro Rebolledo Rubilar/Wikicommons

The diversity of cultures throughout Chile is a strong motivation for many of the international tourists who make the journey to visit the Andean nation.

Chile’s mixture of landscapes back an amazing diversity of cultural activities, from religious festivals such as La Tirana, opportunities for traditional food and drink, as well as a range of museums which rank among the best in Latin America.

A recent report from Sernatur, Chile’s National Tourism Service, showed that 40 percent of international visitors come to Chile for the cultural attractions. Among the most popular are the houses of Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda, the churches of Chiloé and the moai on Rapa Nui, Easter Island.

This figure was given at the Seminario Nacional de Turismo Cultural — a cultural tourism event which attracted more than 150 participants from around the country.

“This seminar shows that the tourism offered today is not only about fun elements for travelers, but it also contains traditional cultural elements that reaffirm the conservation of the historic patrimony of Chile and contribute to the country being recognized throughout the world,” said Undersecretary of Tourism Javiera Montes, as she opened the seminar on April 24.
As the seminar showed, to continue growing Chile’s cultural tourism sector, both for foreign and domestic visitors, it is imperative that the various sectors involved work together to continue promoting Chile’s amazing diversity of attractions.

Chile’s cultural attractions run from the length of the country. For instance, the Azapa Valley, outside Arica in Chile’s far north, was the original home of the Chinchorro mummies, the oldest in the world. The huge collection of mummified bodies was found in Arica in 1983 and is preserved by the Universidad de Tarapacá in a wonderful museum which explains the various cultures that have inhabited Chile’s north.

Some of the mummies can be found at the recently refurbished Chilean Museum of Precolumbian Art, which has a section dedicated to Chile’s culture and arts, as well as hosting art from throughout Latin America.

Much of Chile’s diverse cultural heritage has been recognized by UNESCO, which has already accredited five sites in Chile as world heritage sites. The Rapa Nui National Park, on Easter Island, was the first to be recognized in 1996.

The old mining village of Sewell, located high in the Andes behind Rancagua, and the old saltpeter works at Humberstone give a look into Chile’s industrial past, while the fascinating churches of Chiloé show integration between architecture and the landscape of the southern archipelago.

The historic quarter of Valparaíso is also on the UNESCO heritage list. The colorful port city just a couple hour’s drive from Santiago retains a picture of the early days of globalization against a stunning coastal backdrop.

These, along with Chile’s many other cultural attractions allow visitors a deeper understanding to the spectacular country. With incredible scenery the backdrop to many of the cultural destinations, there is no reason not to further explore Chile’s history and culture.