A Travellerspoint blog

Chile - Santiago

Parks, hills, La Chascona, winery

11th Feb Santiago BELLAVISTA

We woke to a beautiful sunny day, so we took the metro to Plaza Italia (again), crossed the bridge to Barrio Bellavista and walked up past the Bellavista market to Cerro San Cristóbal. There were a surprisingly large amount of dogs there lying in the sun, but not bothering anyone. As we were using the funicular from Calle Pio Nono we had to wait until it opened at 10.00. The stone station, designed by Luciano Kulczewski deliberately copies a medieval tower and the machinery was by Carlos Landa Tudor-hall. We bought our tickets (1 way CP$1500) as we planned to walk back down. Then we caught the first green funicular of the day. Half way up it stopped at the zoo stop, but no one got off and we proceeded to the top. The cyclists had beaten us, but otherwise we were the first ones there. The guide books were right; this big hill (300m) in the middle of the city afforded us one of the most incredible Santiago panoramas available. The view from here put the city in its surroundings: the Andes Mountains and the Cordillera de la Costa. There are many different spots from which to view the city, so we took some time to wander around and enjoy them. Having admired the view over Santiago from the first terrace, we followed the music (oddly enough some Christmas carols) to the summit with its statue of La Virgen (1908), and then down a few levels to the memorial for Pope John Paul II (1987). We passed some snack bars and tourist shops as we walked around the side of the hill, arriving at the entrance to the téléphérique. We decided to pay for a round trip to the other end of the hill and got on a poma. The telepherique had been closed since 2009 when its gearbox exploded and only reopened in Nov 2016. It was CLP1910 each, so very cheap and it gave an amazing view of the city, including views of the Costanara Tower shining in the sun. The cable car also gave a great feel for the park below with its Chagual Gardens (Mediterranean plants), Japanese Plantings, Mapulemu Gardens (Chilean plants) and swimming pools. At the far end at Providencia Teleférico (Pedro de Valdivia entrance), we simply turned round and went back!
On alighting back in the Virgin area we decided to try one of the famous street drinks we had been recommended by the hotel girl. This was Mote con huesillo, an amber coloured drink made of dried peaches (huesillo), cooked in sugar, water and cinnamon before being combined with cooked husked wheat (mote). Without the peach (which we had) it is a descarozados. The drink is not made commercially for sale, nor exported. It was an interesting taste! Having had our drink we attempted to find a way to walk down, but pedestrianway works prevented us, so we ended up taking the funicular down. Steve tried to pay them the single trip, but they insisted our ticket was fine, so we headed down to find lunch.
At the bottom we remembered we had walked around the corner of the lapis shop to try to find an ATM and discovered a whole restaurant area (Patio Bellavista), so we went back and chose La Fournil, which had a nice outdoor section. One nice salad and drink later and we were ready to continue.

It was a short walk up to La Chascona, the home of Chilean poet and Nobel prize winner, Pablo Neruda. In fact it is one of his three houses, each designed and decorated by himself, offering a glimpse into the private and professional life of a fascinating man. La Chascona is the Santiago home that he shared with his wife Matilde 1955-73. Neruda named the home “La Chascona” (“tangled-haired woman”) after Matilde. It was excellently restored, and full of his personal possessions, including a painting by Diego Rivera. We paid our $6,000 pesos (£7) and went in, starting at the lower level. The house is, in fact divided into several houses on several levels, accessed mainly by outdoor staircases.
1.Captain’s bar
2. Dining room
3.Secret stairs to upper floor
4.First floor lounge/ study
5.Guest room
6. Bathroom
7.Lighthouse lounge
8.Principal bedroom
9.Summer bar
10. Library
11. French room

The first, lower house was on 2 levels, covering a “Captain’s” Bar (1) with a nautical shape of a boat’s galley, through to the long dining room (2). The wood table was set for a meal, with copious use of coloured glassware. The walls were decorated with wooden African statues collected by Neruda. Carrying on through we arrived at the “secret” staircase (3), which led to the upper floor. A lower staircase led to the ground floor street entrance, apparently rarely used.
The upper floor was mainly a long room occupied by some of Neruda’s painting collection (he was great friends with Diego de Rivera, the Mexican artist) and at the end Matilde’s study (4). From here a turn right brought us the Guest bedroom, also Matilde’s bedroom (5) with its large fur dog and attached bathroom (6).
Exiting outdoors and climbing up a fairly rickety metal staircase accessed the “Lighthouse” bar (7), whose huge round bay windows gave a great view over the city and the mountains. This room was one of the more interesting. It included a large wooden cocktail table, comfy chairs, and. A large portrait of a double-headed Matilde by Rivera had a profile of Neruda cleverly hidden in her red hair (a reference to the open secret amongst his friends when Matilde was still his mistress). The centre of the room had a tree trunk from floor to ceiling, carefully constructed to appear as if it was holding the building up. Further wooden statues added to the decor. A mezzanine led to another bar area, and stairs to the Principal bedroom (8).
Leaving the top of this separate house we took some outdoor stone steps across a small garden with some nice artwork (notably the suspended eyes and a mosaic) to view the Summer Bar (9), which you can only view through glass but was originally an open-air gazebo. Another staircase, shorter this time led to a further building that housed the library (10) and French room (11), which also had a nice view of the city. These two rooms contained some of the best furnishings, including nautical instruments, globes, a variety of books and a brilliant table, inlaid with a montage of musical instruments.
History of the house. In 1953, Pablo Neruda started to build a house in Santiago for Matilde Urrutia, his mistress at the time, later his wife. He called the house La Chascona (Tangled hair woman), which was his nickname for her due to her abundant red hair. Walking through Bellavista, they found a property for sale at the base of Cerro San Cristobal, covered in blackberry brambles and a steep slope. They decided to buy it. In his poem “La Chascona”, Neruda evoked the “water that runs writing in its language”, and the brambles “that guard the site with their bloody branches.” Construction was by Catalan architect German Rodriguez Arias. He planned a building oriented toward the sun and facing the city, but Neruda wanted a view of the mountains, so he turned the house around in the drawing. Initially, only the living room and one bedroom was built. Matilde lived alone in the house as Neruda was still living with his wife, Delia del Carril, in Michoacán. Many of Neruda’s friends knew his secret, including Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who painted a portrait of Matilde with two heads. In 1955, Neruda separated from Delia and moved to La Chascona, and architect Miguel Rojas Mix added more rooms. In 1973, just days after the military coup, Neruda died and La Chascona was vandalised. The stream was blocked and the house flooded, wood slabs had to be placed over the mud in order to bring in his remains, since Matilde Urrutia insisted on having his funeral there. Matilde fixed the damage, and continued living there until her death in 1985. La Chascona houses an interesting art gallery, with paintings by Chilean and foreign artists, an African carved wood collection and a collection of furniture and objects from designer Piero Fornasetti.

We had spent quite a while in the house and it was getting close to the time we were due to be collected for our flight (5pm), so we went back to the hotel and arrived with just 20 Minutes to wait. At the airport we had a bit of confusion as to where to check in, then found it and were very quickly through security (no need to start removing stuff from bags including, hooray, liquids). Then it was a wait for the flight to Easter Island.

Independence (1810–1827)
The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by the usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte. The Chilean War of Independence was part of a larger Spanish-American independence movement, and had far from unanimous support among Chileans, divided between independents and royalists. What started as an elitist political movement against a colonial master, ended as a full-fledged civil war between pro-Independence Criollos who sought political and economic independence from Spain and royalist Criollos, who supported the continued allegiance to and permanence within the Spanish Empire/ Kingdom of Chile. The struggle for independence was a war within the upper class, although the majority of troops on both sides consisted of conscripted mestizos and Native Americans. The beginning of the Independence movement is traditionally dated 18 Sept 1810 when a national junta was established to govern Chile in the name of the deposed King Ferdinand VII. Depending on definitions, Chile was independent by 1821 (Spanish expelled from mainland Chile) or 1826 (last Spanish troops surrendered/ Chiloé incorporated in Chilean republic). The independence process is normally divided into three stages: Patria Vieja, Reconquista, Patria Nueva. Chile's first experiment with self-government, the "Patria Vieja" (Old Republic 1810–14), was led by a young aristocrat, José Miguel Carrera (above). Carrera was a heavy-handed ruler who aroused widespread opposition. An early advocate of full independence, Bernardo O'Higgins, captained a rival faction that plunged the Criollos into civil war. For him and other members of the Chilean elite, an initiative for temporary self-rule quickly escalated into a campaign for permanent independence, although other Criollos remained loyal to Spain. Among those favouring independence, conservatives fought with liberals over the degree to which French revolutionary ideas would be incorporated into the movement. After several efforts, Spanish troops from Peru took advantage of the internecine strife to reconquer Chile in 1814, winning the Battle of Rancagua. O'Higgins, Carrera and many Chilean rebels escaped to Argentina. The second period was characterised by Spanish attempts to reimpose arbitrary rule during the Reconquista of 1814–17. The harsh rule of Spanish loyalists, who punished suspected rebels, drove more and more Chileans into the independence camp. Members of the Chilean elite became convinced of the necessity of self rule. Leader guerrilla raids against the Spanish, Manuel Rodríguez became a national symbol of resistance. In exile in Argentina, O'Higgins joined forces with José de San Martín. Their combined army freed Chile with a daring assault over the Andes in 1817, defeating the Spanish at the Battle of Chacabuco and marking the beginning of the Patria Nueva. San Martín considered the liberation of Chile a stepping stone to the emancipation of Peru and victory over the Spanish in America. He defeated the last large Spanish force on Chilean soil at the Battle of Maipú 5th Apr 1818 and then led his followers north to liberate Peru. Fighting continued in Chile's southern provinces, the bastion of the royalists, until 1826. A declaration of independence was officially issued by Chile on February 12, 1818 and formally recognised by Spain in 1840, when full diplomatic relations were established.
Virgen on Cerro Cristobal peak
Republican era (1818–91) Constitutional organisation (1818–33)
Bernardo O'Higgins ruled Chile as supreme director 1817-23. He won plaudits for defeating royalists and founding schools, but civil strife continued. O'Higgins alienated liberals/ provincials with his authoritarianism, conservatives/ church with his anticlericalism, and landowners with his proposed reforms of the land tenure system. His dictatorial behaviour aroused resistance in the provinces. This growing discontent was reflected in the continuing opposition of partisans of Carrera, who was executed by the Argentine regime in Mendoza in 1821. O'Higgins angered the Catholic Church with his liberal beliefs. He maintained Catholicism's status as the official state religion but tried to curb the church's political powers and encourage religious tolerance as a means of attracting Protestant immigrants and traders. Like the church, the landed aristocracy felt threatened by O'Higgins, resenting his attempts to eliminate noble titles and, more importantly, remove entailed estates. O'Higgins' opponents also disapproved of his diversion of Chilean resources to aid San Martín's liberation of Peru. O'Higgins supported San Martin because he realised that Chilean independence would not be secure until the Spanish were removed from the Andean core of their empire. However, mounting discontent in troops from the northern and southern provinces forced O'Higgins to resign. He departed for Peru, where he died in 1842. Civil conflict continued, focusing mainly on the issues of anticlericalism and regionalism. Presidents and constitutions rose and fell quickly in the 1820s. The harmful effects on the economy, and particularly on exports, prompted conservatives to seize control in 1830. In the minds of most members of the Chilean elite, the bloodshed and chaos of the late 1820s were attributable to the shortcomings of liberalism and federalism, which had dominated over conservatism for much of the period. Politics became divided by supporters of O'Higgins, Carrera, liberal Pipiolos and conservative Pelucones, the two last being the main movements that prevailed and absorbed the rest. The abolition of slavery in 1823, long before most other countries in the Americas, was considered one of the Pipiolos' few lasting achievements. One Pipiolo leader from the south, Ramón Freire, held the presidency several times (1823–27, 1828, 1829, 1830) but could not sustain his authority. With brief interventions by Freire, the presidency was occupied by Francisco Pinto, Freire's former vice president in 1827-31. In 1828, Chile abandoned its short-lived federalist system for a unitary form of government, with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. By adopting a moderately liberal constitution in 1828, Pinto alienated both federalists and liberals. He angered the old aristocracy by abolishing estates inherited by primogeniture (mayorazgo) and caused a public uproar with his anticlericalism. After the defeat of his army at the Battle of Lircay, 1830, Freire, like O'Higgins, went into exile in Peru.
Conservative Era (1830–61)
Although never president, Diego Portales dominated Chilean politics in the cabinet and behind the scenes 1830-37. He installed the "autocratic republic", which centralised authority. His political programme had support from merchants, large landowners, foreign capitalists, church, and military. Political and economic stability reinforced each other, as Portales encouraged economic growth through free trade and put government finances in order. Portales was agnostic, but realised the importance of the Catholic Church as a bastion of loyalty, legitimacy, social control and stability. He repealed Liberal reforms that had threatened church privileges and properties. The "Portalian State" was institutionalised by the Chilean Constitution of 1833. One of the most durable charters devised in Latin America, the Portalian constitution lasted until 1925. It concentrated authority in the national government, and more precisely in the president, who was elected by a tiny minority. The chief executive could serve 2 consecutive 5-year terms and then pick a successor. Although Congress had significant budgetary powers, it was overshadowed by the president, who appointed provincial officials. The constitution created an independent judiciary, guaranteed inheritance of estates by primogeniture, and installed Catholicism as the state religion; in effect, an autocratic system with a republican veneer. Portales achieved his objectives by wielding dictatorial powers, censoring the press, and manipulating elections. For the next 40 years, Chile's armed forces were distracted from meddling in politics by skirmishes and defensive operations on the southern frontier, although some units got embroiled in domestic conflicts in 1851 and 1859. The Portalian president was General Joaquín Prieto, who served two terms (1831–36, 1836– 41). Prieto had 4 main accomplishments: implementation of the 1833 constitution, stabilisation of government finances, defeat of provincial challenges to central authority, and victory over the Peru-Bolivia Confederation. During the presidencies of Prieto and two successors, Chile modernised through the construction of ports, railroads, and telegraph lines. Prieto and his adviser, Portales, feared the efforts of Bolivian general Andrés de Santa Cruz to unite with Peru against Chile. These qualms exacerbated animosities toward Peru dating from the colonial period, now intensified by disputes over customs duties and loans. Chile also wanted to become the dominant South American military and commercial power along the Pacific. Santa Cruz united Peru and Bolivia in the Peru–Bolivian Confederation in 1836 with a desire to expand control over Argentina and Chile. Portales made Congress declare war on the Confederation, but was assassinated in 1837. General Manuel Bulnes defeated the Confederation in the Battle of Yungay in 1839 and after his success was elected president in 1841, serving two terms (1841-46, 1846-51). His administration concentrated on the occupation of territory, especially the Strait of Magellan and Araucanía. Political tensions, including a liberal rebellion, led to the Chilean Civil War of 1851 when conservatives defeated liberals. The last conservative president was Manuel Montt, who served two terms (1851-56, 1856-61), but his bad administration led to the liberal rebellion of 1859. Liberals triumphed in 1861 with the election of Jose Joaquin Perez as president.
Liberal era (1861–91)
The political revolt brought little social change, and 19th century Chilean society preserved the stratified colonial social structure, greatly influenced by family politics and the Catholic Church. A strong presidency eventually emerged, but wealthy landowners remained powerful. Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by suppressing the Mapuche during the Occupation of the Araucanía. The 1881 Boundary Treaty between Chile and Argentina confirmed Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan, but conceded western Patagonia, and a considerable fraction of the territory it had during colonial times. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879–83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost ! and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence. In the 1870s, church influence started to diminish with the passing of laws that took some roles of the church into State's hands such as the registry of births and marriages. In 1886, José Manuel Balmaceda was elected president. His economic policies visibly changed the existing liberal policies. He began to violate the constitution and establish a dictatorship. Congress decided to depose Balmaceda, who refused to step down. Jorge Montt directed an armed conflict against Balmaceda, which extended into the 1891 Chilean Civil War. Defeated, Balmaceda fled to Argentina's embassy, where he committed suicide. Jorge Montt became the new president.

Posted by PetersF 16:40 Archived in Chile Tagged chile santiago pablo_neruda cerro san_cristobal la_chascona

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