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Castro: stilts houses and wooden churches on Chiloé

The town of Castro is the capital of the Chilean province of the island of Chiloé, an island along the country’s central coast in the Chilean lake region. This town is located in the center of the east coast of the island and is the third oldest town in Chile. It was in fact founded by the Spanish in 1576. The city center is perfect for visiting on foot. A complete walk that allows you to visit the most important attractions of the center of Castro takes about three hours.

A BEAUTIFUL WOODEN CHURCH

Castro’s most famous building is the church of San Francisco (Iglesia San Francisco), which in its present form dates back to 1771. The church is part of the churches of the island of Chiloé that UNESCO has included in the World Heritage Site (in total there are 16 wooden churches scattered throughout the island). The church, in neo-Gothic style, is the work of the Italian architect Eduardo Provasoli and is entirely built in wood. Very nice its harmonious interior which gives peace and atmosphere. In the square where the church is located, the plaza de Armas, which is the central square of the city, also houses the Castro tourist office. Here you will also find numerous shops, banks, bars, restaurants and some stalls of local craftsmen.

TRADITIONAL STILT HOUSES

Castro is famous for its stilt houses (palafitos). These are traditional houses built on wooden stilts. These buildings in the past were the typical constructions of the island of Chiloé. There are three areas of the town where these traditional buildings are still visible: To the north of the port are the Pedro Montt stilts. While just south of the port are the stilt houses of Pedro Aguirre Cerda. Finally, some of these houses on stilts are located in the Gamboa district in the western part of the city, in a bay called Fiordo de Castro. To better admire Castro and its stilt houses it is better to stop in the various miradores that are located in the most beautiful panoramic points of the city: Mirador palafitos Pedro Montt, Mirador Soler, Mirador palafitos Gamboa, Mirador Millantuy.

Near the port there is the small park called Plazuela del Tren where the former railway yard was. Here there are an old locomotive and some other vehicles and railway machinery that were used when the railway line to Ancud was in operation between 1912 and 1960. Also close to the port is the building of the Feria Lillo where craftsmen and traders offer local and foreign handicrafts. In this area there are also small restaurants where you can taste typical seafood dishes from the area.

SOME SMALL MUSEUMS

In Castro there are also two small museums: first of all the Castro Regional Museum (Museo Regional de Castro) which displays numerous handicrafts made in Chiloé as well as archaeological finds found in the area. Secondly, the Chiloé Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno de Chiloé) houses an important collection of contemporary art. Another typical place to visit in Castro is the local market, called Feria Campesina Yumbel. It is a typical market for fruit, vegetables, household items and fish stalls.

Castro is an excellent starting point to visit the whole island of Chiloé.

Official page of the municipality of Castro.

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