While many spend two to three days in Valparaiso, we opted for a long day trip to make the most of our time in Santiago. Another reason being that our onward route was back into Argentina to visit Mendoza, so this made sense.
We took an early bus and arrived just in time to take a Tours4Tips 'Off-Beat' Tour of the city. This described the beginnings of the city and its bars and markets. We were taken up into the hills where we enjoyed commanding views from Plaza de Bismarck.
Valparaiso was a small Spanish colonial village from the early days of the Conquest. Until the California Gold Rush happened, when ships bringing supplies and prospectors from East to West needed a safe harbour after the treacherous voyage around Cape Horn.
The prison here was used to great effect during the Pinochet dictatorship, before they enlisted the naval ship Esmerelda to incarcerate and torture political prisoners away from prying eyes. The building is now rented out to young creatives of all fields and the surrounding area is a cultural centre for the city. A positive reinvention after what sounded like some dark times.
The water tank next to the prison was decommissioned some time ago and is now used by street artists. Street art is a huge part of this city's identity with a particular legal loophole allowing it to thrive. As long as the artist has permission from the owner of the wall, they can paint. From this artists can earn a good living painting murals for clients who want to protect their buildings from other low-level graffiti.
We had a couple of hours until the afternoon tour so took a walk around the streets to have an explore.
After a pitstop for Lomitos at a deserted but very nice little restaurant we walked to La Sebastiana, the coastal home of Pablo Neruda (a revered Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate). Though he passed away in the early days of the dictatorship, his cultural legacy is still very strong and La Sebastiana is one of three homes that a charitable foundation now run as museums.
La Sebastiana had one of the best views of the city.
The streets are crazy in the variety of styles and approaches to the sloping sites they sit on.
The first Lutheran church in Latin America was made possible by the influential German immigrants during the boom years. Their economic leverage on the city's economy helped them to persuade the mayor that they should be allowed to build their church atop Cerro Concepcion. Arguably one of the most prominent and maybe antagonistic locations for this church.
Above, the famous piano steps that were painted by a musician to provide him with a cool new album cover. And below is some more awesome street art to finish off the post. Valparaiso was an awesome day, we got so much value out of the day trip and the Tours.
Had to finish with some Brickchat. Corbusian Modulor Man, a colloboration between Sayco Delic and Cuellimangui