Viña del Mar is located approximately 131 km away from Santiago de Chile, and its a conurbation of Valparaíso. It is known as the "garden city" as it has flowers everywhere, from the famous clock of Viña del Mar to plants hanging in the streets: it is also renowned for its beautiful landscapes and the Viña del Mar Music Festival. The city has a lot of activities to offer, especially in summer! It is one of the most touristic cities in the country, so in this story, I will give you an overview of the places you can visit while in town!
It is the icon of the city! It is located at the feet of the "Cerro Castillo," and it was placed there in 1962 to embellish the city during the FIFA world cup, which took place in Chile that year. Fun fact: the original internal mechanism of the clock was built in Switzerland by the Favag Factory, but it was later changed for a new mechanism, controlled by GPS so that it would be easier to adjust if needed. Also, the flowers of the clock cannot be longer than ten cms and have to be replaced every three months to keep the clock as beautiful as ever! While you visit the clock, make sure to snap a picture with it as there is a local saying that if you take a picture with it, you will come back to Viña del Mar!
It translates to "Castle Hill," and it is a tourist hotspot in the city. It is there where the Presidential Palace of Cerro Castillo, a national monument since 2005, is located. It is said that Graciela Letelier, the wife of president Ibañez del Campo, suggested building a holiday residence for presidents right on the spot, which he thought was an excellent idea! The palace occupies 2260 square meters, has three floors and an underground floor, which is equipped with a library, and an observatory- among others. The Presidential Palace is not open to the public, but it can be seen from the outside. It only opens on the National Day of Cultural Patrimony (it is usually at the end of May). Anyway, the view from the Cerro Castillo is incredible and the castle itself definitely worth a visit.
Also a National Monument, the Wulff Castle, is another icon of the city. Located in the coastal edge of Viña del Mar, it was home to Gustavo Wulff, a german philanthropist, and businessman. The Liechtenstein mansion inspired the castle's original architecture, but after Wulff's death was changed to a stone structure based on the English construction style. Going to the Wulff castle is a beautiful experience as the surroundings of the castle, and the chateau itself are breathtaking. Make sure to take big breaths of marine air as you enjoy the view.
The palace used to be home to the businessman Fernando Rioja and his family until 1959 when the municipality of Viña del Mar acquired it. The palace was nearly intact; only a few modifications were made after the Rioja family left, until the earthquake of 1985 when it almost got destroyed. After the earthquake, the palace was rebuilt, and some new exotic plants were incorporated into its garden. Nowadays, the Palace is a museum of decorative arts. The highlights of the place are its architecture, the well-preserved decoration, as well as the items held on the inside. The Palace is not only a museum but also a cultural center. To know what is going on while you visit, check their website. Also, keep in mind there is a permanent collection of objects inside, but I will not tell you too much, so you discover the Rioja Palace yourself!
The Quinta Vergara is a park of Viña del Mar: right there, you can find the Vergara Palace, the Amphitheater of the Quinta Vergara, and the Artequin Museum. The Vergara Palace was home to the Viña del Mar founder José Francisco Vergara, and it was designed by the architects Ettore Petri and Alejandro Petri. After the construction finished, it became a hotspot for social life. The palace is surrounded by peaceful gardens filled with exotic plants brought from Asia and Australia and is decorated with sculptures and busts. An extraordinary sculpture is the one in honor of the Chilean Poet Gabriela Mistral; it was placed there after she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Amphitheater of the Quinta Vergara is the place where the International Festival of Song of Viña del Mar takes place at the end of February each year; it is considered the biggest musical contest in America! But the real highlight of the Festival is the international artists that come to perform (among them, so you get an idea The Police, Becky G, Jonas Brothers, Shakira, Daddy Yankee, etc.) The real judge of how good the performances have been is the audience, which is called by the locals "The Monster." The monster can decide whether the artists should stay on stage or not!
As you see, there are many things to do and see in Viña del Mar, the city of flowers! There are a lot of activities I could not include in this article for length sake, like sunbathing on the beach, checking out artisanal stores and nightlife, and many more. If you come to Chile, make sure you visit Viña del Mar, it will amaze you with its beauty!
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