The Plaza De Armas is more than a plaza, it is the heart and soul of Santiago. The size alone of the square is impressive compared to other plazas in South America. Within the space of the plaza there are a series of sculptures, fountains, and pretty trees with purple flowers. Then there are the massive buildings flanking each side of the square.
The square was once the training ground for the Spanish occupation of Chile in 1541. While their use of the site as a military facility was short lived the Plaza continued to be the central focus of the city for many years. The main city market was also held adjacent to the square up until the early 19th century.
The most outstanding of the buildings on the Plaza is the Santiago Cathedral. The current cathedral was constructed in 1747 even though at least three churches occupied the same site since the early 16th century. The building is the most commanding of any of the buildings on the square. Although you don't get a full indication of its size until you walk down the adjacent street to see its full majesty.
There is a series of public buildings on the north side of the square. The Correo Central (Central Post Office) is at the site of the former Governor's Residence. Further down the street is the Cuartel De Bomberos which is the site of the City's oldest fire station. On the east side of the Plaza is the Municipalidad de Santiago (City Hall) and also the Museo Histórico Nacional.
On a Saturday we were surprised to find so many children playing in the square fountains. There were also men involved playing games of what appeared to be chess or some other board game. Down by the cathedral there was a large group of mainly women from Peru who apparently had undertaken a journey to the Santiago Cathedral.
The Plaza de Armas or city square has the same points of interest as Plazas de Armas world wide - it is the goverment and justice centre and the centre for worship.
In Santiago this one of the few places to see good examples of colonial architecture. It is quite a large square and with outdoor cafes along the side to the cathedral and stalls selling colourful wares dotted around.
This should be your first point of call during your Santiago stay. Plaza de Armas is the downtown's centre point where there are some colonial architecture including the Catedral Metropolitana, Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Now the Museo Historico) and the Correo Central. Look out for the garding and fountain honouring Simon Bolivar. This is the place to people watch where a lot of activity happens such as watching the chess players in the bandstands, buskers, evangelists, sellers, stray dogs, lovers and families.
At the left side of the Plaza de Armas (with your back towards the Cathedral), you a number of beautiful buildings.
First you see the beautifully restored central post office (Correo central), this Correo central was the former house of Pedro De Valdivia, the Spanisch concuistador
And next to it the Palacio de Real Audiencia which houses the Museo Historico Nacional. Here you can learn everything on the historical history of the country.
And next to the Palacio de Real Audiencia is City Hall.
At the big central square, The Plaza de Armas, you can not miss the big bronze statue of Pedro De Valdivia.
Pedro de Valdivia (ca. 1502-1553) was a Spanish conquistador and professional soldier. He fought in Europe and in the civil wars of Peru and initiated the conquest of Chile.
As you can see at the picture, there is a lot of people around the statue, there are not there because of Pedro De Valdivia, oh no, there were a couple of street artist entertaining the crowd at the other side of the street.
I also stopped to watch the two for a while, and I must say they were really good, they stopped cars and taxis, tried to get free rides, tried to hijack a passing bicycle, and copied people passing by, all very funny.
The Catedral metropolitana is located at the central square in the city centre of Santiago, the so called Plaza de Armas.
If there are no services going on, you can visit this beautiful cathedral.
The interior is richly and colourful decorated, there are some beautiful chapels. Do not forget to look up, in order to admire the beautiful ceiling.
There was no entry fee.
As you enter the Plaza de Armas, you can not miss the Catedral Metropolitana.
It was designed by the same designer who did La Moneda (presidential palace). If you are interested and you have time, then you should also see the interior of this big cathedral.
A great place to start your journey in Santiago is the big central square, the so-called Plaza de Armas. I must admit that this is not the most beautiful central square that I have ever seen during my travels in Latin - America, but nevertheless it has some beautiful colonial buildings.
Two sides of the square are arcades with all kind of shops, opposite there is the Cathedral and the Archbishops palace, and at the other side Palacio de Real Audiencia which houses the Museo Historico Nacional, and on the left side the beautiful Post office (Correo Central), and at the other side the City Hall.
On the Plaza de Armas there is also a modern statue dedicated to the Indigenas of Latin-America and at the other side a bronze statue of Pedro de Valdivia on his horse.
Plaza de Armas is one of the only areas in Santiago that has remained more or less the same throughout the years. It is surrounded by the beautiful Catedral Metropolitana, the Museo Historico Nacional and the Correo Central (post office) building, which I thought was the most architecturally-interesting building in the entire city (and the perfect place to go to send some postcards to your VT friends!). There are also different statues at the center of the Plaza, including a beautiful equestrian monument dedicated to Pedro de Valdivia, founder of the city.
There isn't that much to do around Plaza de Armas but look around and snatch pictures, but since it's one of the only spots in the city where you'll see great examples of 18th and 19th century architecture, it's truly worth the detour. People will probably come up to you offering to draw a portrait or sell some souvenirs, but most are not pushy at all. Plaza de Armas makes for a really great spot to begin your walking tour of downtown Santiago!
All Santiago spends some time here in the Plaza de Armas at some stage or another. This is the city's historic centre, each side bounded by interesting buildings. The 18th century Catedral Metropolitana stands facing east - as churches must. The north side is where you will find the early 19th century Palacio de la Real Audencia - home now to the Museo Historico Nacional - and the 18th century Town Hall. The streets behind the cathedral house more interesting colonial buildings whilst exiting the square to the south will take you into the city centre's main shopping area.
The plaza is kilómetro cero, the point from which all distances in the country measured. It really is the heart of the city with its shady trees, fountains, statues and sculptures, bright balloon sellers, hot dog and drink stands, seats for sitting and watching the world go by. Why not join the locals for a while?
Exit the plaza in the south-west corner and you'll find yourself in Paseo Ahumada, Santiago's busiest shopping street, a tree-lined pedestrian way that is always crowded.
In the south-east corner you'll find the Casa Colorada - a lovely suvivor from colonial times, now home to the Museo de Santiago. It's open every day but Monday.
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