A look at Chile's cultural offerings...
With such a diverse geography stretching from the remote Tierra del Fuego in the very south of the country to the deserts and altiplano lagoons in the very north of the country, it’s natural that Chile should have an extremely diverse culture and history too. While Santiago has, for a long time, lagged behind Buenos Aires and Rio as a cultural destination the growing number of restaurants, theatres and museums is attracting more and more people to the capital and the country is starting to make more of its cultural traditions. Outside of the capital and particularly in rural areas where communities have always had strong ties with the land they live on, you’ll find peoples with deep rooted cultural traditions and unique styles of folk music and dance.
The starting point for most visitors to Chile is the capital of Santiago. Home to the majority of Chile’s population it has long struggled with a reputation for being one of South America’s less exciting cities. In the last few years, however, neighbourhoods like Lastarria and Bellavista with their theatres, museums, restaurants and wine bars have helped to turn Santiago into a cultural destination in its own right. One of Santiago’s major advantages is its relatively small size and excellent metro system which makes it easy for visitors to the city to explore and move between one area and another. Whether it’s learning more about Chile’s history by visiting the historical centre and Palacio La Moneda, discovering more about Pinochet and the relatively recent dictatorship at the Museum of Memory or trying a few steps of the national dance known as “cueca” in Barrio Brasil, there’s plenty to fill a couple of nights in the capital before moving on elsewhere.
In the southern Araucanía region of Chile, which encompasses much of the Lake District, live Chile’s largest group of indigenous peoples, the Mapuche. Once occupying a territory covering most of Southern Chile and Argentina, the Mapuche are famous for their 350 year struggle against the Spanish conquistadors and later the leaders of the fight for Chilean independence. This area of Chile with its peaceful lakes, rivers and forests, is stunningly beautiful and a visit can be even more rewarding after learning about Mapuche traditions as well as their strong ties to La Araucanía and the environment they strive to protect.