Santiago, is the capital and largest city of Chile, its population exceeds 5 million inhabitants. The city is built in the foothills of the Andes, just over 500 meters above sea level, and is one of the most modern and developed cities in Latin America.
Santiago was founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia. The original name of the city was that of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura. The city grew and developed in the following centuries, but was repeatedly attacked by the Araucanos Indians (Mapuche) and was often destroyed by earthquakes. With the independence of Chile it became the capital of the country. In this period it was mainly embellished with neo-classical buildings.
A CITY WITH A MODERN LOOK
Despite its long history, only a few historic buildings from the Spanish colonial period remain in Santiago. This is due to the fact that the city has often been hit by earthquakes over the centuries. Today its appearance is that of a modern and rapidly developing city.
At the center of the city is the Santa Lucia hill, a park with numerous monuments (such as the Terrace of Neptune), where the Spaniards built two fortifications in the early nineteenth century. Not far away is the Plaza das Armas with the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, a neoclassical-style building designed by the Italian architect Gioacchino Toesca. The other famous building in the city, the Palazzo de La Moneda, is also the work of the same architect. This palace was originally the city mint but in the mid-nineteenth century it became the residence of the President of the Chilean republic. Even today the palace has this function. Other interesting historical monuments are the classic baroque churches of la Merced, Santo Domingo and Recoleta.
The city is now mostly modern in appearance. There are skyscrapers and large shopping centers. The Gran Torre Santiago, which is part of the Costanera Center complex, is with its 300 meters high the tallest building in Latin America.
The city is served by a modern international airport. The Aeropuerto Internacional Arturo Merino Benítez, which is 18 km from the city center. Santiago de Chile airport is well connected with other Latin American countries, Europe, North America and Oceania.