The Chilean National Monuments Council officially recognizes over 900 historic landmarks and institutions considered critical to the Chilean cultural heritage. Many of these monuments date back to the Spanish period from the 16th century conquistadors through the 19th century battles for independence. Important early monuments include Santiago's Santa Lucia Hill (conquered by Pedro de Valdivia in 1541) and Cerro San Cristobal (named by the conquistadors for St. Christopher in recognition of its use as a landmark), Valparaiso (the first Spanish settlement in Chile, claimed by Diego de Almagro in 1536) and La Moneda, originally an 18th century colonial mint and now the seat of the President of Chile.
Post-independence 19th century monuments include the Casino Ross and Ross Park in Pichilemu, the Santiago Stock Exchange building, the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (a fabulous cathedral in Papudo) and the Ambassador in Estancia San Gregorio, one of only three surviving composite clipper ships in the world.
The 20th century monuments include the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile (the national library completed in 1925), the Estación Mapocho (a key hub for early rail traffic through South America), the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos (Chile's national stadium) and Villa Grimaldi (a complex of buildings used for interrogation and torture of political prisoners during the government of Augusto Pinochet).
Throughout Chile, public squares include statues and monuments commemorating city founders and military heroes, as well as significant early citizens and events. The most popular public monument among tourists is the Hito al Trópico de Capricornio located in Antofagasta, which was constructed in 2000 to mark the exact position of the Tropic of Capricorn.
The Chilean National Monuments Council officially recognizes 21 archaeologic monuments from pre-Columbian times. The most significant is Monte Verde in south-central Chile, which is at least 14,500 years old and generally considered the oldest pre-historic site in the Americas. Pukará de La Compañia in Graneros includes the southern-most ruins of the Inca Empire, dating from the 14th century. Earlier Incan sites include the Pucará de Quitor and the Pucará de Copaquilla in northern Chile.
Article Written By Timothy Aldinger
Timothy Aldinger brings 20 years of experience as an instructional design consultant and corporate training strategist in the automotive, environmental, health and insurance industries. His professional writings have been published by Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and many other major corporations. Aldinger received his Bachelor of Arts in political theory from Michigan State University.