Cathedral in Santiago de Chile
Chilean National Museum of History
Santiago de Chile Downtown
America > South America > Chile > A day in Santiago de Chile’s Downtown

A day in Santiago de Chile’s Downtown

By Aurora Sánchez |

Discover two of the most popular museums located in Santiago de Chile’s Downtown. Also, try the traditional empanadas de pino and the humitas.

Latin American cities are destinations we can’t miss. Their combination of history and attractions is perfect. No matter which one you visit, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Montevideo in Uruguay or Mexico City, traveling to these cities means you’ll find adventure.  Today we invite you to discover Santiago de Chile’s Downtown, in the wonderful city of Chile.

Discovering Downtown: Santiago de Chile’s Map 

Santiago de Chile’s Downtown is the neighborhood with which the city was founded in the sixteenth century by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia. Its heart is the Plaza de Armas, surrounded by buildings that date from the colonial and republican periods. They constitute the center of the political, administrative, economic and religious power of the city. Among them you’ll find the Municipality of Santiago, the Cathedral, the National Historical Museum and the Courts of Justice.

The layout of the city is similar to a checkerboard. This means that streets are traced from the center in right angles that result in rectangular blocks. This gives them a great connection with the rest of the city. Also, it has helped the downtown area become an attractive commercial spot full of galleries, shopping centers and pedestrian promenades such as Ahumada and Huérfanos.

The streets are visited by almost one million people among which there are merchants, buyers, students, workers and tourists. Plaza de la Constitución is one of the main attractions as well as the Municipal Theater of Santiago and the large number of museums located in the area.

Top Museums in Santiago de Chile’s Downtown 

The city of Santiago has a wide variety of museums where you can discover the history, art and life of the admirable Chileans. Visit, for example, the Museum of Santiago Casa Colorada, the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, and the Museum of Coins and Banknotes of the Central Bank. DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, recommends you visit these 3 museums to learn about the history of this country and its artistic wealth. Other two museums you can’t miss are the National Museum of History and the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts. Both are a must in your visit to Santiago de Chile’s Downtown.

#1 The National Museum of History 

The National Museum of History is located on the north side of the Plaza de Armas. It was built between 1804 and 1808 to function as the Court of Justice which later became the Royal Court in 1814.

Throughout its history it has housed different public institutions. It was until 1982 that it was inaugurated as a museum. In this museum you can learn about the history of Chile from pre-Columbian times until 1973. In its 15 rooms you will find archaeological remains, military pieces, artistic works and religious antiquities. They were taken from ancient museums and from historical exhibitions such as “Coloniaje” , which was presented in 1873.

Visit it from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 h. Entrance is free.

#2 Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts 

Continue your tour in the National Museum of Fine Arts. It’s located next to the bank of the Mapocho River, in front of the Forest Park. Access is also free and you can visit it from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:45 h.

It was inaugurated in 1910 as part of the celebration of the Republic’s centenary. Fourteen countries were invited to this event, which hosted an international exhibition.

The original project conceived it as a museum and School of Fine Arts. In 1901 the Chilean government organized a competition for its construction. The winning project was created by the Chilean-French architect Emile Jéquier.  That’s the reason its architectural design resembles the Petit Palais, in Paris. Its glass dome was designed and built in Belgium, and it provides a great luminosity to the interior.

The National Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago de Chile’s Downtown is considered the oldest art museum in Latin America and it houses a collection of 5,500 original works! It includes paintings, sculptures and graphics by national and foreign artists. Some of the permanent collections you’ll find there are the Chilean Painting and Chilean Sculpture exhibitions.

The museum offers guided tours in Spanish, English and French. Click here to reserve. In addition, it has a specialized library, an educational department, a souvenir store, a bookshop and a cafe.

What to Eat in Santiago de Chile’s Downtown

When you finish the tour, take a moment to satify your apettite. Traditional Chilean food, as that of most Latin American countries, is a fusion of flavors, scents and textures. It has its origins in the combination of native and European gastronomy.

Each region in Chile prepares dishes that reflect different traditions. In the case of Santiago de Chile’s Downtown, we recommend you try two dishes you will easily find and that you can have at any time of the day.

The empanadas de pino (Chilean beef empanadas) are a classic. They are filled with finely chopped onion, meat, eggs and raisins. Pair them with red Chilean wine to accentuate their flavor.

Also, try the humitas. For their preparation, they use corn, onion, garlic and basil. They are served with powdered sugar or with diced fresh tomato.

Chilean beef empanadas

This cultural and gastronomic tour will make you want to return to Santiago de Chile’s Downtown soon to discover more of the attractions it offers. Enjoy your trip and don’t forget to share your photos as well as your experience in the city of Santiago with us.