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Valparaíso is a kaleidoscope,
An upside down shipwreck
Valparaíso is a scaffold in the wind
a labyrinth of colors.
Valparaíso is stairs that climb to the sky,
lifts that pass between gardens of houses…
a beautiful and chaotic disorder

Leo Silva A.

Valparaíso, port and city, is located in the southwest coast of South America (central zone of Chile), its coordinates are latitude 33º01' South and longitude 71º38' west, 120 kms to the Northwest of Santiago (capital of the country); it is a hidden jewel in Latin America. A port full of history and nostalgia, an urban and arquitecture curiosity, a city that was never founded.
Valparaiso is a natural bay that is surrounded by a mountain chain of cordilleran type that bathes its foothills in the sea and transforms it in an amphitheatre that looks towards the Pacific.

 

 

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Panoramic photography taken by Tyler Martell, passenger of Ruta Valparaíso (Scroll this way > > > > > > ...)
 

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THE HOUSES GAVE BIRTH TO THE STREETS

Its inhabitants built the city spontaneously, climbing the foothills, turning them into multicolored clusters of houses that defy gravity and vertigo. In these foothills coexist, with natural confidence, different arquitecture styles that, without prejudice, mix into their construction material of different quality and style, such as great mansions and marble stairs next to small houses that are sustained by weak palafittes and finely worked wood next to crudely painted plywood. Beautiful alleys that lead to never ending stairs, where the wind becomes a friend, that invite to the discovery and the amazement of vertical life. A labyrinth where the light that enters through the windows show us the way towards a mirador, where the Pacific opens itself to us showing us the agitated life of the port, with its ships and multicolor boats, and unlimited perspective of the horizon.

 

 

 

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LUMINOUS BOHEMIA

As a good port always does, Valparaíso has an interesting night life where the bohemia goes out to the mythical places of coffee, wine with the friends of poetry, movies, boleros and tangos. Presently declared WORLD HERITAGE SITE by UNESCO, for the people who want to enjoy a new tourist destination, Valparaíso appears as a real alternative for the people who want to enjoy a new tourist destination, with beautiful natural and urban landscapes, places that are typical and unique, mysterious corners that are waiting to be discovered.


TECHNICAL INFORMATION

• Chile
• Capital of the Fifth Region: Valparaíso
• Climate: Temperate with temperatures that vary between 5º and 15º in winter and between 12º and 30º in summer.
• Rain season: From May to August
• Language: Spanish
• Currency: Peso. Credit cards and traveler checks are widely accepted.
• Communications and transport: Direct international dial and a good highway system that connects it particularly with Santiago
• Electric energy: 220 volts.

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Typical Local Experiences
Ufff!!!! In Valparaíso vertigo is an everyday thing. Climbing stairs, taking buses, lifts or simply walking, can end up being an adventure. Also in the sea you can live an experience worthy of a sailor or the typical bohemian port flavors in restaurants. Don't miss this list of places and experiences .

BOAT TRIP IN THE BAY

FUNICULARS RAILWAY (ELEVATORS)

An attraction you can't miss in Valparaíso is its lifts popularly called elevators, curious funiculars that go up and down the hills, intruding into the house yards that are crossed in its path. There are 15 lifts that are still active, taking the port residents to their neighborhoods. All the lifts travel a long distance and have a beautiful view that almost always looks towards the sea.

TAKING A FUNICULAR

Did someone say vertigo? Vertigo is an experience so common in this city, it passes unperceived to the inhabitants that are used to see the world from the height, to live suspended in the hillsides and to look out their windows that are suspended in the air. To live the experience of vertigo and to open the door of the city neighborhoods, it is always good to take one of the 15 lifts the city has. They are all from the beginning of the twentieth century and one could think that they were still in another period and in another calendar. They rise intrudingly yards and roofs and look into the life of the city residents. It is interesting to see the details of the mechanisms that close and open doors, rudimentary but still working the same for years. The scaffolds that sustain the greasy rails and shaking cars scare the tourist revealing he is not native to the city, but don't be too scared, there has never been any serious accident in these old lifts.

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See a Valparaíso lift

Live the experience of a lift from this city

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PRAT PIER

Taking a walk in the Prat dock is a typical experience in this city. The boatmen that offer tours shout out their offers in a restless activity. You can see their multicolor boats floating with their curious and flashy names. If you descend using the boarding stairs, you can sit down and observe the movement of the place and enjoy watching the immense cargo ships and impressive cruisers. Before leaving the place it is always recommended to visit the typical handcraft market and enjoy the variety of articles available. It is one of the best places to buy postcards and souvenirs from all over the country. Sheep wool sweaters, T-shirts, ships in bottles and the famous “sly Indian” that gives a big surprise when lifted. You can also visit a real size replica of the “Santiaguillo” ship, in which the first Spaniards arrived in 1536.

BOAT TRIP IN THE BAY

A boat trip in the bay of Valparaíso is a great nautical experience. These multicolor boats are boarded in the Prat dock in the midst of the boatmen who cry out the circuit. The boats are aboarded by many tourists who navigate through the whole bay between fishing boats, taking pictures of pelicans, of sea lions who observe from marine buoys or swim around the boat. Beside the big cargo ships, the Chile Marine warships and the spectacular view of the whole city that forms a natural amphitheatre that looks at the sea makes us feel much smaller. You can recognize all the hills that are part of the city and observe the steep and impossible streets that climb vertically almost to their summits. All Valparaíso will be revealed before your eyes, its houses, churches and the constant wind that is a characteristic of the place. If you have the luck of doing this tour during the evening, you will live one of the most romantic experiences seeing the lights of the city turning on. After this trip you will feel closer to the freedom call of the magical lifestyle of the sailors of the world.

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Live the experience of navigating

See an encounter with sea lions

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“LA SEBASTIANA” NERUDA'S MUSEUM

Pablo Neruda, literature Nobel prize for the year 1971, built in Valparaíso one of his three delirious houses, “ La Sebastiana ”. Today, just as his two other houses, it has been turned into a museum dedicated to the memory of the poet where his belongings and object collections are displayed. In “ La Sebastiana ” you can draw on the particular and ludicrous lifestyle of the poet, revealing a part of the poet's secret while you roam through this spectacular house. Built like an interior version of Valparaíso, it is visited going up stairs and crossing corridors that conserve the ship appearance all the poet's houses have. Each room, from the living room to the studio, is an impressive encounter with Neruda's objects and with his particular decoration style, where the windows of the house form one of the best and most powerful panoramic views of Valparaíso .

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Enjoy the beautiful view Neruda's house has

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A LOOKOUT

Almost every hill in Valparaíso has a lookout. These are real balconies from where the sea and the rest of the city can be appreciated. Like a form of reaching the ever present Pacific Ocean, the inhabitants arrive at the lookout and remain enraptured by the landscape. You can reach some of them by directly climbing the hills and others have to be discovered entering alleys that seem to the closed for public use. To discover… the best way to get to know the city. The lookout of the city are nostalgic and romantic, they are the best places to take panoramic pictures, to let one's mind wander, to read, write and dream.

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Visit a lookout from Valparaíso

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THE SUNSETS

A sunset in Valparaíso is an experience that will delight your eyes. The red and purple tones that are produced when the sun sets into the sea are always breathtaking. From any point of the city, walking on a solitary beach, from a mirador, in a lift, there is only one thing that you shouldn't lack… someone to hold your hand.

 


GETTING TO KNOW THE HILLS

The entire city of Valparaíso is a touristic wonder. The whole city is full of magical corners, and anyone who wishes to visit them will absolutely have to enter the piled up life that hangs from the hill ravines, meddle, penetrate, interfere to find, discover and get to know.

The city is not easy. On the contrary, it is intimidating, so openly displayed, so shamelessly exhibitionist, so suggestive and at the same time so full of secrets, lives, history and mystery. It is hard to take the first step and launch oneself into the conquest, it is hard to decide where to start. Any alley can be a good start and then you follow only one logic. To go up is to start to discover and entering is to get closer to the identity of the city. Alleys, stairs, a new way up, an almost secret passage… Houses that are about to fall into the emptiness, old doors and rusted tin. Or also, a patrimonial neighborhood with beautiful houses that are well taken care of, with reproductions of paintings of Chilean artists or the World Heritage area.

Just follow two simple rules:

1.- If you go up you get further and if you go down you get closer

2.- It is always better and more secure to rely on an experimented guide who, while he shows you, tells you the story of the city and the place, and who directs your view with the skill of a cameraman so you don't lose any of the most picturesque details of the circuit.

 

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Walking and discovering

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TAKING PUBLIC TRANSPORT TO THE HILLS

Wow!! Taking public transport in Valparaíso sometimes turns into a great experience of vertigo. The routes buses take go through really narrow two way streets, that are sometimes very steep and suddenly take very sharp turns. In these trips the landscape reveals itself little by little towards the neighboring hills, the houses that are suspended in the hillsides, the whole city in an edge. All of a sudden, a monumental and complete view of the sea and city bay appears and you can sometimes even see the neighboring city of Viña del Mar. Then, all is descent and vertigo and, as if it was a rollercoaster, the bus descends with speed. The drivers are so experimented that they constantly defy vertigo going faster and faster and the walls and cliffs pass very close to the window. The residents are so used to this that they always smile at the look of surprise and fear some tourists have.

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The hills in public transport

Vertiginous descent

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THE NIGHT

No night is more beautiful than the ones this port has.
The night lights up completely and the lights go up from the sea to the hills, mixing with the stars in an overwhelming spectacle that invites us to take a walk between the streetlamps. Everything acquires a special dimension. The city is extremely captivating in the darkness, and, as you discover new places that look different in daylight, you also find new cafés and bars that invite you to enter them with their bohemian ambience.
Take your precautions and do not risk yourself alone if it is your first time in the city. It is always good to have someone who knows the city well, because, like any good port, has its surprises. A local tour guide to accompany you is a very good idea

 


THE BOHEMIA

Speaking about the night, Valparaíso has an interesting night life with many and varied locales to be found in different areas. They all have a particular style that identifies them. So you will be able to find from the most avant-gardes ones, with alternative styles and music, good discos, to magical cafés and restaurants hidden in the hills and wrapped in a romantic ambience, in addition to typical restaurants from the traditional port bohemia. It is a good idea to go out to bars to discover the latest offers. Poetry reading, Irish pub, Cuban bar, live music of different styles, etc. This port has always been famous for its agitated nightlife and you can still find the places that conserve the atmosphere of the old port bohemia.


J. CRUZ SOCIAL CLUB

This beautiful restaurant and nocturnal locale is hidden in an alley and right in the middle of the commercial area. To enter it is to come across the spirit of the past. Its small saloon is packed with shelves that keep very curious collections of varied objects and antiques. Its walls are covered with old pictures, paintings, hat collections, fireman helmets, torpedoes and helices that hang from the roof. Its tight tables grant the place an exquisite bohemian atmosphere that invites to conversation, to the wakeful night talk next to a good bottle of wine. The old customers mix with the newcomers in an ambience of friendship and comradrie, because they know that one who acquaints himself with J. Cruz is sure to sit again in its tables.

Club Social J. Cruz: Calle Condell 1466 - casa 11 – Valparaíso

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See the atmosphere of J. Cruz

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EATING CHORRILLANA

Mmmmmm!!!!!!!!!! This great dish is a trademark of Valparaíso. The mythical story says that it was born in J. Cruz restaurant, one of the places you can't miss in the port night. It conserves all the atmosphere of the old bohemia. Its owner, a bohemian that collects the most varied objects which are displayed in his locale, would have invented it basing in similar dishes that he would have gotten to know in his excursions around the world. The basic idea is a big dish, not very expensive and ideal for a group of friends, after an agitated night. The dish would be useful for putting your body in order before leaving the night.
The result is a big dish based on French fries, onions, meat and eggs. Everything fried and served to nibble in big plates for two or three people. The experiment turned soon into a famous dish that you can now find in almost all locales in the nights of Valparaíso. Eating it in the locale where it was created is an experience in itself, as the atmosphere is enchantingly noctambulous and bohemian.

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Delicious Chorrillana

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THE CINZANO BAR-RESTAURANT

Cinzano is an old bar and restaurant of this port. It is dated from 1896 and has been a witness of many periods of this city. Its style tells us of about this tradition with an old bar that invites you to take a seat. In a small hillock, there are tables and a stage, and at the back, a place where the results of the last Soccer World Cup are displayed. Its walls have also been witness of many lively bohemian nights. It has very religious customers that have stayed suspended in the magical times of the port night.
Tango is here to stay in Cinzano. Every weekend night old musicians get on the stage and give life to the evening playing old songs from other periods that are in vogue again each time they are played by these sworn followers, who, every now and then, ask the public which bolero or tango do they want to hear..
NOTE: You cannot request the tango “Adiós Muchachos” in any traditional locale in Valparaíso, because the old musicians believe it brings bad luck, since it reminds them of Carlos Gardel and for all of them Carlos Gardel is still alive.

CINZANO: Plaza Aníbal Pinto 1182 - Valparaíso

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A bohemian night at the Cinzano

 

THE FISHERMEN COVES

“Caleta de pescadores” (fishermen coves) is the name that is given in Chile to the places, particularly beaches, dedicated to artisan fishing. In Valparaíso, there are two coves: “Caleta el Membrillo” and “Caleta Portales”. In these places you can get a close look of fishermen labors, the sale of fish that have just been extracted from the sea and are shouted out from the very same boats. The sea food is also displayed in markets that boil with activity, everything surrounded by a picturesque and typical background. It is very interesting to search deeper into these coves and see the sea products from a short distance. The shellfish are knocked by the customers to see if they move, irrefutable proof of their freshness while from the other side they are invited to see the fish that has just been captured. If you continue investigating you will surely be able to see the “baiting” activity where the expert hands of men and women bait sardines with a surprising speed into the hooks that will be used for fishing. The humidity, the smell of salt, the unavoidable fish scale that sticks to the clothes and the seagulls and pelicans that wait for leftovers, grant the place the typical marine and port atmosphere.

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THE MARKETS

If you wish to see the idiosyncrasy of the people of Chile from up close, there is no better place than the markets and fairs. In these places, in the midst of the fragrances, the typical flavors and the neverending hollering out of the vendors, you can buy fruit, vegetables and all type of agricultural products, as well as seafood and fish. If you tune your sense of hearing, you will also note the remarkable accent, the musicality of the form of popular speaking which, in the midst of unending noise, appears to draw the particular lifestyle of Chileans.
Valparaíso has a fair that runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Argentina Avenue and two markets: “El Mercado Cardonal”, located in the Almendral district, and “El Mercado Puerto” located in the district with the same name. These are very old buildings where small typical local restaurants work in the second floor, whose specialties are seafood, beans and “cazuelas” (a delicious soup with potatoes, meat and vegetables). All these dishes can be eaten for very convenient prices

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ANGLICAN CHURCH

The Saint Paul Anglican Church of Valparaíso is one of the places in the city where you can get a really close look at the European immigration of the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. It was built in the year 1858 by the engineer William Lloyd. Its structure is the reflection of its period, when religious freedom did not exist and protestants had to handle a low profile. It is the first protestant temple of Chile. Inside we can find all the splendor of the Victorian era and the English neogothic style. The presence of British culture is obvious with numerous plaques in English where two enormous bronze plaques stand out with the name of young Englishmen who traveled from Valparaíso to the two world wars and never came back.

Its most complex and beautiful treasure is the Queen Victoria Memorial Organ, an imposing musical instrument that was designed exclusively for this church and was installed between the years 1902 and 1903, in homage to the sovereign that passed away in 1901. It was donated by the British community of Valparaíso and was built by the Fosters & Andrews Company. It is considered the best in its type in South America and has been restored and is constantly repaired and taken care of by a specialized musician.

Every Sunday, at noon, free concerts are given for all the public who wishes to attend.

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Watch a musical Sunday at Saint Paul Anglican Church

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A BIG STORM WITH SHIPWRECK INCLUDED

Encountering a storm in Valparaíso in the winter season is a capturing scene. The wind begins blowing on all the hills with a relentless strength while the rain falls unceasingly, transforming the streets into rivers and stairs into waterfalls. It seems like all the houses fall mercy of the wind which threatens to pull them out by their roots and to tear off a window or a whole balcony.

Valparaíso looks towards the North and the predominant winds have a South East direction, storms have North winds and for this reason the bay is very exposed, making navigation difficult on storm days and leaving the ships with no shelter and protection. Sometimes the waves of the sea acquire impressive sizes and you can see the ships going out to weather the storm maneuvering expertly in the open sea, submerging their prow in the water. Some do not have that luck and end up stranded or run aground in some beach or into the coast line rocks. It is not frequent, but neither is it impossible to have the morning surprise of discovering a huge cargo ship on the beach or only a few meters away from an avenue.


THE CULTURAL CARNIVALS

December 2001 witnessed the birth of a “new tradition”, “a new festivity”. On December 28, the streets of the city become flooded by many free artistic-cultural activities that are performed for all the citizens. This way, theatre plays invade everyday spaces using the city stairs as bleachers. Poets read out their poems in cafés while a rain of poetry from the sky bathes the city. The popular singers are found in the town squares. Jazz, paintings and pyrotechnical spectacles please their inhabitants who participate massively and actively. Three days of daydreams culminate in a carnival throughout the city and gives way to the long awaited New Year's Eve.
At each carnival a foreign city is invited and sends a group of artists as ambassadors, who actively participate with the cultural exchange. The city that was invited for the first carnival was Barcelona and the ambassador was the theatre performance group "Les Comediants".

The city is waiting for you, don't miss the next carnival.

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Watch the promotional video of the 2006 Cultural Carnival

Watch part of the Cultural Carnival lively march

 

NEW YEAR'S EVE IN THE SEA

Every New Year's eve, the city council prepares a spectacular firework show in the bay of Valparaíso. On day 31 the city fills with visitors who start crowding together very early in every hill viewpoint, beach, house with view to the sea or any suitable place. During the whole day a party atmosphere is felt while everyone waits for the night, because at exactly 00:00 o'clock, the firework display begins, whose spectators are all the hills of Valparaíso, who turn into a gigantic amphitheatre.
After the show, the neighbors throw themselves into the streets to give the traditional New Year hug and to wish each other happiness and prosperity. New Year's Eve has no end. Bohemia lights up in parties, every nocturnal local prepares something special for that night.

NOTE: Don't forget to arrive to this festivity with anticipation and to ensure your place booking in advance your hotel, room for rent and restaurants. Traffic becomes somewhat difficult that day.
That night, if you wish to mark the luck of your new year, we suggest:
Eating lentils at exactly midnight. This will assure a year with economic prosperity.
Carrying luggage at the moment of beginning the New Year to make sure you will travel.
Women who wish to have good luck in love during the year that is beginning, must make sure to be wearing yellow underwear, and if the object of your sleeplessness is near, reserve your first New Year hug for him. Try it, don't miss this festivity.

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Enjoy the impressing show

Even more exciting, in the middle of the public

 

LAPISLÁZULI

This beautiful semiprecious stone is only found in Chile and Afghanistan. In Chile it is extracted during the months of favorable weather, in summer, because the mines are very high in the Andes Mountain Chain, near the city of Ovalle, in the North of Chile.
The jewelers create artworks of great beauty for practical or decorative use, combining the stone with metals such as silver and gold.

If you wish to include a visit to a store that specializes in lapislazuli jewelry, simply add it to your tour.

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DELICIOUS CHILEAN WINE

Chile is famous for its wines since it possesses several valleys where the weather is optimal for the cultivation of rootstalk. One of these valleys is Casablanca, where from the beginning of the nineties an interesting viticulture and viniculture industry established itself.
The different brands with different stocks are many and varied, but they are all of great quality and very good flavor.

If you wish to include a visit to a specialized store to taste and buy wines, simply add it to your tour

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Ruta Valparaíso
Valparaiso - Chile
Design and production
Private City Tours – Touristic Routes – Local Guides
People, groups, companies, university students, exchanges students and schoolchildren.
Free lance tour guide services in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese
Information about the city
info@rutavalparaiso.cl
56- 998443958