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.
During the day Plaza de Armas is a heart of the city. This beautiful place traces back to Pedro de Valdivia, the founder of the city, and the year 1541. In that era there was a protected area in the middle for guarding the arms. Its name was taken from the military and has been called that ever since.
This is THE place where people meet, where pass by all the tourists. You will find there local artists selling they paintings, and some of majors touristic attractions of Santiago.
Palacio de la Real Audiencia is an beautifully preserved colonial building that houses today the Museo Histórico Nacional (March-Dec Tues-Sun 10am-5.30pm; Jan & Feb Tues-Sat 10am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-1.30pm; 500 pesos, free on Sundays) where you can learn a lot about history of Chile.
On the west side of the square you cannot miss a gorgeous cathedral. Near by you can also see a big, old white building of the Correo Central (main post office) which used to be a presidential palace, and also spectacular Municipalidad (townhall). The majestic equestrian statue on the place comemorate Pedro de Valdivia, founder of the city.
All distances in Chile are measured from a metallic spot located in the midlle of the place.
On Plaza de Armas you can see this old city-map of Santiago de Chile in the year 1712. It is made of bronce and totally flat on the floor and I am sure most people just walk over it without even noticing. Interesting to see there, that the pattern of equal squares was the way that streets were built at that time and still today all roads follow that principle.
The Plaza de Armas is not only the heart of downtown's Santiago, but also a centre for most activities and almost a compulsory place to cross by for anybody walking in the centre.
It is also the Kilometre 0 for all the distances measured for the Pan American Highway. This is, right from here, there are -for example- 2100 kilometres north to Arica, or 1044 south to Puerto Montt, or exactly 1000 to the last shrub of vegetation in the desert, before the Atacama desert becomes of a Martian-like barrenness and sterility.
Albeit recently remodelled -in a way that somewhat recalls Mexico City's Zocalo- it retains their lively activity, in the form of street artists and painters, tarot readers and Sunday plays in the music stand.
It also becomes quite crazy on Friday and Saturday nights, and a showcase for Peruvian immigrants on Sunday afternoons (actually, their NW corner is called Peque?a Lima, which stands for "Little Lima", given the huge amount of Peruvians that hang up 'round there).
Plaza de armas is surrounded by the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Santiago Municipality (Mayor's House) and the 17th century -although fully refurbished- Portal Fernandez Concha.
Nikon F4s, 20 mm. Nikkor, f.11, 1/45 sec., POL filter, Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 slide film
Santiago in 1580 was just a small fortified settlement and a map of it you will find next to the map of 1712, on the pavement of Plaza de Armas. It certainly was not easy to start building such a city like Santiago with several million inhabitants nowadays...
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!
A very big plaza, great with abundant Chilean palms and trees, a space to take a walk to rest just seat a see people going. You obtain sketchers, painters who sell their works. To its environs you have the Church main cathedral, the mail, real palace hearing. Also you have Coffee outdoors, one of the lateral street have internal runners you found all a block of restaurants where you can eat.
Una plaza muy grande con abundantes palmas chilenas y árboles, Un espacio para pasear descansar o hasta leer. Consigues dibujantes, pintores que venden sus obras. A sus alrededores tienes la Iglesia catedral, el correo, palacio real audiencia. También tienes Café al aire libre, uno de los corredores internos encontraras toda una cuadra de restaurantes donde puedes comer
Gran Capitan Don Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago de Chile in 1541 and nowadays you will see his monument at Plaza de Armas, that had also been the place, where the city was founded. Another , much smaller, statue of Don Pedro de Valdivia is to be found at Cerro Santa Lucia.
The monument on Plaza de Armas is opposite of the cathedral and just a few meters from that monument you will see a small map on the floor : Santiago in 1541
If you go to Santiago dont miss Plaza de Armas. At first sight it is just like any other plaza you've seen. But the contrast between the architecture in Santiago's Cathedral, The Correio central and the modern building near them is really impressive.
To reach Plaza de Armas take the subway (which is very civilized) or take a taxi. I dont recommend riding the buses.
This building is one of the nicest ones at the Plaza de Armas. It was built in the 19th century and became after a few years the central post office. It still being used for this purpose, and it's a national monument.
This museum was actually built as Santiago's city hall. It's now the National Museum of History. It gives quite a good insight on chilean history, so if you want to know more about the country, it's definately a must see.
The Plaza de Armas, Santiago's main square is surrounded by very old buildings.The Metropolitan Cathedral, on the western side of the plaza, stands on the same spot where the first church in Santiago was once built; to the north are three important buildings: the Post Office, the National Museum of History and the Townhall of Santiago.
The buildings are typical old colonial spanish buildings, and they're worth a picture. Be careful of pickpockets.
This map is located just in front of the National Museum of History, on the floor of the Plaza de Armas. It shows how Santiago was by 1712. You can see the typical spaniard "manzanas" right next to each other. This is how Santiago was supposed to be. Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago's founder, might have never imagined that it was going to become so big. Huge in fact.
Downtown Santiago still has the colonial streets and the original manzanas.
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.