Valparaiso held us in its sway from the moment we traveled there. A highlight of our visit was touring La Sebastiana, the former home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and his wife, Matilde.
La Sebastiana overlooks the bay from its secure hillside location. Neruda wrote of many common things in life, but a fair amount of literature was dedicated to the sea. He reserved the right to admire the power of the sea, but preferred to be anchored safely on land.
The Neruda's constructed La Sebastiana in two halves--they occupied one half of the four stories, the other half was given over to friends. That meant that each level had a mere 1-2 rooms. The home was brightly painted and accented with unique furniture and artwork--windows looking to the sky from this poet's aerie gave an understanding of why this location was chosen. The sweeping vista of the neighborhood and bay made it a wonderful site.
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) won the National Prize for Literature in 1945 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. La Sebastiana is one of poet Pablo Neruda's three homes which form a non-profit organization founded by his third wife, Matilde Urrutia.
La Sebastiana is opened Tuesday-Friday, but closed holidays. There is a gift shop on the grounds offering books, postcards and other related items.
Spanish explorers came to Chile in 1536 and are believed to be the first Europeans to set foot on shore. Spain controlled Chile until Bernardo O'Higgins, a South American revolutionary hero, helped this country attain its independence in 1817 by way of a famous calvary charge at the Battle of Chacabuco. (History provided by wikipedia.org)
Encircling the monument are the names of those who participated in the War of Independence, forever etched on its stone walls as a reminder of their heroism. We took time to read the names and wondered what part that individual played in this decisive battle.
The square in which this monument sits is large and open--overseen by the Naval Academy which rises imposingly at one end.
La Sebastiana was a colorful, artsy, hillside house which was once the residence of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. The gardens were pretty, although small and provided a birdseye view of the neighborhood and the bay of Valparaiso below.
Inside, unique furniture pieces and artwork gave the home that verve so often present in the homes of creative individuals. In other words, it was distinctive!
A gift shop containing books, postcards and related items was located in the garden area. Take time to walk around and take in the panorama which includes the bay area.
A boat ride around the harbour gave us a different perspective from which to view the city. A parade of ships sailed in and out of the harbour--some were especially striking...like the Esmerelda pictured here.The grandkids were thrilled with the spray leaping up from the front of our boat as we whizzed about.
Valparaiso enjoys a growing commerce from its shipping industry. It has seen troubled times, but has risen in importance internationally through the years.
*My thanks to Leyle (Wandering Came) for identifying this ship. Since that´s the case, we saw this vessel when the Tall Ships came to Connecticut a few years ago!!
Plaza Sotomayor is the big square in the very centre of Valparaiso, where you will see the giant monument for the heros and the beautiful building of the Naval headquaters, and this square is a must for every tourist in Valparaiso. In walking-distance from Plaza Sotomayor you will find all kinds of shops and also some of the funiculars taking you uphill for a better view of the town.
We traveled to Valparaiso with our son's family. The seaport was busy and crowded on the day we came. Small shops lined the waterfront selling all types of merchandise such postcards, leather crafts, small toys and souvenirs.
The sounds and smells of the busy seaport indicated a thriving seaport. Valparaiso is regaining some of its former glory days with its fruit exports, seafood and other contributions to world commerce. Tourism figures greatly in its contribution to the economy.
I wanted to show how steep some of the streets were throughout Vaparaiso. This one led to the home of Pablo Neruda. It doesn't appear to be as steep as it really was, but believe me, we felt the extreme incline as our car chugged to the top! The view was spectacular from the summit, encompassing the waterfront and other sections of the hillside.
Valparaiso sits ninety miles from Santiago and is comprised of many hills. The topography has often been compared to that of San Francisco.
It is fascinating to see so plenty of these ancient Ascensores (Funiculars) all over the city of Valparaiso. They recently became a UNESCO-World-heritage and they are a cheap and easy way to get uphill and enjoy the lovely panorama-view.
The price for each direction is mostly just 100 local$, so that is about 20 Euro-cents or a quater-Dollar in US$. The only reason why I did not take any of them was that I did not have a lot of time and was not able to ask, how often the funiculars will go up and down and I did not want to miss my ship.
I understand that there are five beaches in Valparaiso. Currents from Antarctica pass by Chile, so its not too comfortable to swim unless you can brave the cold waters!
A tip: Just as we discovered that the streets in Valparaiso are very steep in many places, the drop offs in the water are, too, but we didn't find this out personally...thank goodness! We did find the beach to be a wonderful place for a respite from our busy schedule--it was calming just watching the waves and feeling the ocean breeze against our faces.
Plaza Victoria is a lovely park not for from the city-centre and you will see a lovely fountain and 4 giant sculptures of godesses or other nice ladies. This park has also some attractions for children, street-musicians and a lot more in addition to shady benches. You will get to Plaza Victoria, when walking from the place, where you are able to get out of the bus, when arriving by cruiseship. That sounds confusing, BUT you should know that the ships are docked close to Plaza Sotomayor, BUT the only way to get to town is by bus and this bus will take you OUTside of the citycentre, about 2 km from Plaza Sotomayor.
Every city in Chile has lots of monuments for their local heros, but this one in Valparaiso is special in many ways :
This giant monument is dedicated to Chile's naval heroes of the War of the Pacific, fought between Chile and Peru from 1879-1884. The main figure is Arturo Prat, he was killed in 1879 at the Battle of Inquique when the Chilean ship, the Esmerelda captured the Peruvian armoured monitor the Huascar.
Thanks a lot to Leyle (the wanderingcamel) for these great infos about this part of history !
Av. Brasil is the name of the main boulevard of Valparaiso and it will take you from Plaza Sotomayor to the very end of the coastline, where the buses from the cruise-ships will drop their passengers, when they want to go to the city of Valparaiso.
That boulevard is first directely next to the port-area and will get soon the 2nd street parallel to the coastline & pier.
In the middle of that boulevard there is a sandy path with 2 lines of shady palmtrees and plenty of monuments of local heros. Outside of this sandy part there is a seperate street for the cartrafic in each direction and at least on a sunday afternoon there was not a lot of trafic there at all.
A boat ride is something that adds another dimension to one's travel, so we take advantage of the opportunity whenever possible. Valparaiso was lovely seen from the water! We felt the pulse of this busy seaport as we glided past ships and cruised along the shoreline. The briny smell of the water and noise of commerce enveloped us; we became witnesses to the intense activity of the waterfront.
El Mercurio de Valparaiso is the name of this lovely building with interesting architecture at the crossing of Av. Esmeralda and Pasaje Ross. El Mercurio - that name comes obviously by the sculpture of the god Mercur on top of the building, that dates back to the end of the 19th century.
This building is used by a bank today.
This strange kind of a building on my main photograph is the parliament of Chile, although it rather looks like a shed for wheat of what-ever...
I passed by it when I had the transfer from Santiago to Valparaiso and was told by my guide that Santiago was the seat of the president of Chile, while the parliament was in Valparaiso.
When you get to Valparaiso by cruise-ship you will need to get a taxi to get to the parliament. From the front it looks a bit better, but still quite strange.