Theme Week Chile – Valparaíso

Friday, 25 November 2016 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Plaza Echaurren © Hemorag/cc-by-sa-3.0

Plaza Echaurren © Hemorag/cc-by-sa-3.0

Valparaíso is a major city, seaport, and educational center in the county or commune of Valparaíso. Greater Valparaíso is the second largest metropolitan area in the country. Valparaíso is located 111.8 kilometres (69.5 miles) northwest of Santiago and is one of the South Pacific’s most important seaports. Valparaíso is the capital of Chile’s third most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990. Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as “Little San Francisco” and “The Jewel of the Pacific”. Examples of Valparaíso’s renown glory include Latin America‘s oldest stock exchange, the continent’s first volunteer fire department, Chile’s first public library, and the oldest Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication in the world, El Mercurio de Valparaíso.

The second half of the twentieth century was not kind to Valparaíso, as many wealthy families abandoned the city. The opening of the Panama Canal and reduction in ship traffic dealt a staggering blow to Valparaíso’s port-based economy. However, over the past 15 years, the city has staged an impressive renaissance, attracting many artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up shop in the city’s hillside historic districts. Today, many thousands of tourists visit Valparaíso from around the world to marvel at the city’s unique labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful buildings. The port of Valparaíso continues to be a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit exports. Valparaíso also receives growing attention from cruise ships that visit during the South American summer. Most significantly, Valparaíso has transformed itself into a major educational center with four large traditional universities and several large vocational colleges. The city exemplifies Chilean culture, with festivals every year, and a number of street artists and musicians.

Valparaíso © flickr.com - Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0 Valparaíso © flickr.com - Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0 Valparaiso © flickr.com - P R/cc-by-2.0 Valparaíso from the sea © Macarron/cc-by-3.0 Plaza Sotomayor with monument of the heroes of Iquique © flickr.com - Ricardo Moraleida/cc-by-sa-2.0 Plaza Echaurren © Hemorag/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Plaza Sotomayor with monument of the heroes of Iquique © flickr.com - Ricardo Moraleida/cc-by-sa-2.0
During Valparaíso’s golden age (1848–1914), the city received large numbers of immigrants, primarily from Europe. The immigrant communities left a unique imprint on the city’s noteworthy architecture. Each community built its own churches and schools, while many also founded other noteworthy cultural and economic institutions. The largest immigrant communities came from Britain, Germany, and Italy, each developing their own hillside neighbourhood, preserved today as National Historic Districts or “Zonas Típicas.” During the second half of the 20th century, Valparaíso experienced a great decline, as wealthy families de-gentrified the historic quarter, moving to bustling Santiago or nearby Viña del Mar. By the early 1990s, much of the city’s unique heritage had been lost and many Chileans had given up on the city. But in the mid-1990s, a grass roots preservation movement blossomed in Valparaíso where nowadays also a vast number of murals created by graffiti artists can be viewed on the streets, alleyways and stairways. The Fundación Valparaíso (Valparaíso Foundation), founded by the North American poet Todd Temkin, has executed major neighborhood redevelopment projects; has improved the city’s tourist infrastructure; and administers the city’s jazz, ethnic music, and opera festivals; among other projects. Some noteworthy foundation projects include the World Heritage Trail, Opera by the Sea, and Chile’s “Cultural Capital”. During recent years, Mr. Temkin has used his influential Sunday column in El Mercurio de Valparaíso to advocate for many major policy issues, such as the creation of a “Ley Valparaíso” (Valparaíso Law) in the Chilean Congress, and the possibility that the Chilean government must guarantee funding for the preservation of Valparaíso’s beloved funicular elevators.

Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaíso was declared a world heritage site based upon its improvised urban design and unique architecture. In 1996, the World Monuments Fund declared Valparaíso’s unusual system of funicular lifts (steeply inclined carriages) one of the world’s 100 most endangered historical treasures. In 1998, grassroots activists convinced the Chilean government and local authorities to apply for UNESCO world heritage status for Valparaíso. Valparaíso was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003. Built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Valparaíso boasts a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways, embodying a rich architectural and cultural legacy. Valparaíso is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on chile.travel – Valparaíso, LonelyPlanet.com – Valparaíso, Wikivoyage Valparaíso, Wikitravel Valparaíso and Wikipedia Valparaíso. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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