Anyone who spends enough time in central Chile has heard them — the urges from locals and expats to get out of the bustling metropolis of Santiago and head to the coast. And while Viña del Mar’s beautiful beaches or the alluring mysticism of Pablo Neruda’s home-turned museum Isla Negra are a few favorites, the litoral zone’s crown jewel is still Valparaíso.
Long one of This is Chile’s favorite spots, the port city is internationally recognized as a cultural mecca. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003, the city has seen 10 years of breakneck improvements to turn it into an even more stunning place to visit in the country. After having been ranked by a slew of travel sites, The New York Times has taken notice as well.
The article in the top U.S. paper takes note of the culinary and cultural revolutions Valparíso has long been known for, but focuses on the large government and private industry projects that have revitalized the city’s heart and soul.
Once one of the world’s richest ports, Valparaíso sat on the primary trading route for ships heading around the southern tip of South America bound either for the west coast of the United States or for eastern Asia. After the Panama Canal’s construction in the early 20th century, though, the city slumped and much of its beauty fell into disrepair.
As part of its breathtaking reversal, the city has taken advantage of the colorful graffiti that turned its once-crumbling neighborhoods into beautiful outdoor museums and mixed it with the bright port colors and historic passageways and ascensores for a globally unique blend of old and new. Dozens of small museums and art galleries have also popped up on the city’s many hills, letting residents — or porteños as they are known — brag that their city is Chile’s cultural capital.
The New York Times piece calls the port city a “comeback on Chile’s coast,” and it’s surely one that any traveler to South America’s Pacific coast would not want to miss.