A Travellerspoint blog

Chile - last day in Santiago

La Moneda, Cousino Macul

17th Feb Santiago LA MONEDA AND PLAZA

Our last day in Santiago and our last chance to watch the guard changing ceremony. Having taken the metro we arrived in good time, although there were already quite a few people there. It was, however, worth the wait as it was an impressive show with horses, marching bands, etc. The palace itself is quite interesting too! La Moneda Palace/ Palacio de La Moneda is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile and General Secretariat. It occupies an entire block in downtown Santiago, in the Civic District between Moneda (North), Morandé (East), Alameda del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins (South) and Teatinos street (West). La Moneda, originally a colonial mint (Moneda = coin) 1814-1929, was designed by Italian architect Joaquín Toesca. Construction began 1784 and it was opened in 1805. In June, 1845 under president Manuel Bulnes, the palace became the seat of government and presidential residence. In 1930, a public square, Plaza de la Constitución was built in front of the palace. After the presidency of Gabriel González Videla it ceased to be a presidential residence. In the military coup d'état of 1973, the Chilean Air Force bombarded the palace. Reconstruction was completed 1981, although some bullet marks have been preserved. During the restorations, an underground office complex (bunker) was built under the front square to provide a safe escape for dictator General Augusto Pinochet. President Ricardo Lagos opened the inner courtyards to the public during certain hours of the day. Lagos also re-opened Morandé 80 gate (used by Chilean presidents to enter the palace, eliminated during the restoration as not being in the original plans, but restored for its symbolism as the gate through which Chilean Presidents entered La Moneda as ordinary citizens). It was also the gate through which the body of President Allende was taken out after the 1973 coup. A traditional changing of the guard ceremony takes place every two days (odd days in odd-number months, even days in even-number months, inc Sun, at 10 a.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. on w/ends). A formal ceremony dating back to 1850, it lasts 30 mins and includes a band, troops with horses parading in the square, pomp and circumstance. Carabineros de Chile provides the guards and band for the ceremony.
The Palacio de la Moneda’s main façade faces Moneda street, and its rooms are distributed along the transverse and longitudinal axes forming several patios; Patio de los Cañones (entrance hall); a covered patio; Patio de los Naranjos (presidential ceremonies). To celebrate the bicentenary of Chile’s independence 2010, a public square, Plaza de la Ciudadanía (Citizens Square) was constructed on the south side of the palace down to the Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins or “Alameda”. Designed by Undurraga Devés Arquitectos, the Plaza has been called “one of the most important public works in the last century”. Paths leading down from the plaza give access to the underground Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Centre.

We had booked a trip to the Cousino vineyard for late afternoon, so decided to head back towards the Plaza des Armas to admire the buildings.
We went into the beautiful Post Office (left) built 1881 in Beaux Arts style (interior right) and then decided to try the National History Museum, which was not rated good on most websites, but had the advantage of being free! Personally I think they did it an injustice as it was surprisingly well done, dealing with the history of Chile in a chronological manner. There were a number of quite nice artefacts, including some prehistory ceramics, some great paintings (mainly of kings and governors, but notably also a famous one of Donna Ines Suarez defending Santiago in the Mapuche attack). As we headed towards the end of the upper floor an attendant approached us and asked if we’d like to go up the bell tower. Of course we did! Only 3 people are allowed up at a time, so we were quite lucky. The spiral staircase up 3 flights opened to a small balcony and a beautiful view of the Plaza below. When we’d finished we went back down and found that he was refusing everyone else; it looks like it’s up to the attendant, so we were really privileged.


Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago (Royal Court Palace or Palace of the Boxes) is a building located in the north central area of the Plaza de Armas. The building houses, since 1982, the National History Museum of Chile. The building was built 1804-07 to serve as the home for the royal courts of justice. It was the work of Juan Goycolea, a pupil and disciple of the Italian-born Joaquin Toesca who designed the nearby La Moneda Palace and the east facade of the Cathedral in the last two decades of the 18th century. The courts sat here for 2 years until Chile's first government junta, in 1810, assembled to replace the Spanish governor. Eight years later the Chilean Declaration of Independence was solidified and the building served as the meeting place for the new congress and the seat of government until 1846, until President Manuel Bulnes moved to La Moneda Palace. The Chilean National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional or MHN) is located in the Palacio de la Real Audiencia. The institution was founded 1911 and consists of the former palace's old rooms used as exhibition spaces for artefacts relating to the history of Chile. There is a room of archaeology/ethnology, as well as rooms for coins/medals, army stuff, paintings (artisanal), conquest, church and state, colonial life, republican Chile, popular front, etc. http://www.museohistoriconacional.cl

Definitely lunch time! We wanted to sit and enjoy the Plaza and its bustling life, so we chose an open air restaurant by the cathedral. Faisan d’Or, the restaurant, served us typical Chilean empanadas and a nice cool drink. Perfect.
Arica Culture 1000-1400; Chiu Chui 700-1000 and Atacama cultures 900-1200; Inca 1300-1400 and Arica 900-1200 AD pots

After lunch we just went for a stroll, passing Casa Colorada and ending at La Merced. The red basilica looked interesting, so we went in and were surprised it is not particularly mentioned in tourist guides. When Pedro de Valdivia established Santiago the Order of Mercy priests (Mercedarians)
arrived in 1541 and built a church. However, the Franciscans managed to take possession of it soon after in 1556, leaving the Mercadarians churchless. Juan Fernandez de Alderete, a member of Valdivia’s expedition therefore donated the La Merced land to them for their church. It was destroyed in several earthquakes until the current building (1765), completed internally by Joaquin Toesca (1799) in neo-Renaissance style. The towers were added in 1859 and 1885. It contains two splinters of “The Cross”, a painting (on the altar) of Mary from Emperor Carlos V and two wood carvings of Mary in cases in the nave. There were some grand tombs, of Rodrigo de Quiroga and his wife, Mateo de Toro Zambrano and the Count of Quinta Alegre. In the presbytery, are the symbols of basilical dignity: the tintinábulo and the conopeo, the only ones in Chile. To the left of the main altar is the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament, in Carrara marble. In the pink, apricot and green aisles were pictures of mercedarios saints. The main altar is surrounded by a construction supported by columns and pilasters, smooth. The sides are fully decorated with the pink, damask and green tones. After the church we went next door to their museum (previously the cloisters). We paid a minute entrance fee and went in. The museum is arranged around a central garden and we were the only people. The lower floor was interesting, especially their Easter Island room, which has one of the 29 remaining rongorongo tablets. The upstairs was less interesting as it was all artefacts from their liturgical processions. http://www.barriolastarria.com/museo_la_merced_barrio_lastarria.htm

WINE TASTING http://www.cousinomacul.com/en/
It was time to head back to the hotel so we could catch an uber to take us to Viñas Cousino Macul and Aquitania. It was quite a drive, but a sunny day, so pleasant. There were barriers at the entrance, but as we had prebooked it was fine. The English tour started at 3pm, and we went initially outside to look at the vineyards (originally they had owned most of the land up to the Plaza des Armas!), then inside to the vaults, both old wood barrels and the modern metal. The winery is heavily influenced by French traditions, including ideas about terroir, corks, ageing, etc. Interestingly they keep a “library” of each year’s wines, just a few bottles of each. Below that were the old vaults and barrels, no longer in use due to mould. Upstairs again was a small museum showing where they first exported to and even their ingenious bottling 4-stroke car engine! Finally, the tasting! We had a varietal, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

  • Antiguas Reservas Chardonnay. The first chardonnay was made in 1969 here and is one of their finer vintages, of quite restricted numbers.
  • Finis Terrae (Maipo), a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 75% of the wine comes from their oldest vineyards.
  • Antiguas Gran Reservas Syrah, their emblem wine.

Grapes were first grown on this estate in 1564, when the King of Spain granted Hacienda Macul to conquistador Juan Jufre. In 1760 Juan Antonio Cousino arrives from Spain and marries the heiress of the estate. Sadly she died giving birth to her first child, so Luis Cousino (her son) became sole proprietor on his father’s death. His half sister, Isadora, later joined him and was very influential in bring new varieties of grape from Europe and constructing the important winery vaults in European fashion. In 1970 much of the Macul land was appropriated and the family moved most of its vineyards, apart from this estate, which now produces their premium wines. The Cousino family still own the vineyards and winery! Then it was an Uber back as we were leaving early the next morning. We decided on a nearby Providencia pub for dinner, so started with a jug of terremoto on the balcony of Tio Manolo, followed by dinner of pastel de choclo at Bar Bazul.

Parliamentary era (1891–1925)
The so-called Parliamentary Republic was not a true parliamentary system, in which the chief executive is elected by the legislature. It was, however, an unusual regime in presidentialist Latin America, for Congress really did overshadow the rather ceremonial office of the president and exerted authority over the chief executive's cabinet appointees. In turn, Congress was dominated by the landed elites. This was the heyday of classic political and economic liberalism. For many decades, historians derided the Parliamentary Republic as a quarrel-prone system that merely distributed spoils and clung to its laissez-faire policy while national problems mounted. At the mercy of Congress, cabinets came and went frequently, although there was more stability and continuity in public administration than historians have suggested. Chile temporarily resolved its border disputes with Argentina with the Puna de Atacama Lawsuit of 1899, the Boundary treaty of 1881 and the 1902 General Treaty of Arbitration, though not without engaging in an expensive naval arms race beforehand. Political authority ran from local electoral bosses in the provinces through the congressional and executive branches, which reciprocated with payoffs from taxes on nitrate sales. Congressmen often won election by bribing voters in this clientelistic and corrupt system. Many politicians relied on intimidated or loyal peasant voters in the countryside, even though the population was becoming increasingly urban. Lacklustre presidents and ineffectual administrations of the period did little to respond to the country's dependence on volatile nitrate exports, spiralling inflation, and massive urbanisation. In recent years, particularly when the authoritarian regime of Augusto Pinochet is taken into consideration, some scholars have re-evaluated the Parliamentary Republic of 1891–1925. Without denying its shortcomings, they have lauded its democratic stability, its control of the armed forces, respect for civil liberties, expansion of suffrage and participation, and gradual admission of new contenders, especially reformers, to the political arena. In particular, two parties grew in importance, the Democrat Party, with roots among artisans and urban workers, and the Radical Party, representing urban middle sectors and provincial elites. By the early 20th century, both parties were winning increasing numbers of seats in Congress. The more leftist members of the Democrat Party became involved in the leadership of labour unions and broke off to launch the Socialist Workers' Party (POS) in 1912. The founder of the POS and its best-known leader, Luis Emilio Recabarren, also founded the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) in 1922.
Presidential era (1925–73)
By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, Arturo Alessandri Palma. He appealed to those who believed social questions should be addressed, those worried by the decline in nitrate exports during WWI, and those weary of presidents dominated by Congress. Promising "evolution to avoid revolution", he pioneered a new campaign style of appealing directly to the masses. After winning a seat in the Senate representing the mining north in 1915, he earned the sobriquet "Lion of Tarapacá.” As a dissident Liberal running for the presidency, Alessandri attracted support from the more reformist Radicals and Democrats and formed the so-called Liberal Alliance. He received strong backing from the middle and working classes as well as from the provincial elites. Students and intellectuals also rallied to his banner. At the same time, he reassured the landowners that social reforms would be limited to the cities.
Alessandri discovered that his efforts would be blocked by the conservative Congress. Like Balmaceda, he infuriated them by going over their heads to appeal to the voters in the congressional elections of 1924. His reform legislation was finally rammed through Congress under pressure from younger military officers, sick of the neglect of the armed forces, political infighting, social unrest, and galloping inflation. A double military coup set off a period of great political instability that lasted until 1932. First military right-wingers opposing Alessandri seized power in 1924, and then reformers in favour of the ousted president took charge in 1925. The Saber noise (ruido de sables) incident of 1924, provoked by discontent of young officers, mostly middle class lieutenants, lead to the establishment of the September Junta led by General Luis Altamirano and the exile of Alessandri. However, fears of a conservative restoration in progressive sectors of the army led to another coup in January, which ended with the establishment of the January Junta as interim government while waiting for Alessandri's return. The latter group was led by two colonels, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Marmaduke Grove. They returned Alessandri to the presidency and enacted his promised reforms by decree. A new Constitution encapsulating his proposed reforms was ratified in a plebiscite in September 1925. The new constitution gave increased powers to the presidency. Alessandri broke with the classical liberalism's policies of laissez-faire by creating a Central Bank and imposing a revenue tax. However, social discontents was crushed, leading to the Marusia massacre in 1925 followed by the La Coruña massacre.
The longest lasting of the 10 governments 1924-32 was that of General Carlos Ibáñez, who briefly held power in 1925 and again between 1927-31 in what was a de facto dictatorship. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. The Seguro Obrero Massacre took place 1938, in the midst of a heated 3-way election campaign between the ultraconservative Gustavo Ross Santa María, the radical Popular Front's Pedro Aguirre Cerda, and the newly formed Popular Alliance candidate, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. The National Socialist Movement of Chile supported Ibáñez. To pre-empt Ross's victory, the National Socialists mounted a coup d'état intended to take down the right wing government of Alessandri and place Ibáñez in power. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932–52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez to office for another 6 years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez in 1958. The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva by an absolute majority initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in Liberty", the Frei administration embarked on far-reaching social and economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian reform, including rural unionisation of agricultural workers. 1967, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who found them excessive. At the end of his term, Frei had accomplished many noteworthy objectives, but he had not fully achieved his party's ambitious goals.
Popular Unity years
In the 1970 presidential election, Senator Salvador Allende Gossens won most votes in a three-way contest. He was a Marxist physician and member of Chile's Socialist Party, who headed the "Popular Unity" (UP) coalition of Socialist, Communist, Radical, and Social- Democratic Parties, along with dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement (MAPU), and the Independent Popular Action. Despite pressure from the government of the United States, the Chilean Congress, keeping with tradition, conducted a runoff vote between the leading candidates, Allende and former president Jorge Alessandri. This procedure previously a formality, yet became quite fraught in 1970. After assurances of legality on Allende's part, the murder of the Army Commander-in-Chief, General René Schneider and Frei's refusal to form an alliance with Alessandri to oppose Allende, on the grounds that the Christian Democrats were a workers' party and could not make common cause with the oligarchs, Allende was chosen by a vote of 153 to 35. The Popular Unity platform included the nationalisation of US interests in Chile's major copper mines, the advancement of workers' rights, deepening of land reform, reorganisation of the national economy into socialised, mixed, and private sectors, a foreign policy of "international solidarity" and national independence and a new institutional order (the "people's state" or "poder popular"), including the institution of a unicameral congress. Immediately after the election, the United States expressed its disapproval and raised a number of economic sanctions against Chile. The CIA's website reports that the agency aided three Chilean opposition groups during that time and sought to instigate a coup to prevent Allende from taking office, known as Track I and Track II. In the first year of Allende's term, the short-term economic results of Economics Minister Pedro Vuskovic's expansive monetary policy were favourable: 12% industrial growth and 8.6% increase in GDP, accompanied by major declines in inflation (from 34.9% to 22.1%) and unemployment (down to 3.8%). Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, which had the effect of increasing consumer spending and redistributing income downward. Joint public-private public works projects helped reduce unemployment. Much of the banking sector was nationalised. Many enterprises within the copper, coal, iron, nitrate, and steel industries were expropriated, nationalized, or subjected to state intervention. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the administration's first year. However, these results were not sustainable and in 1972 the Chilean escudo had runaway inflation of 140%. An economic depression, begun in 1967 peaked in 1972, exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits in response to Allende's socialist program. Production fell and unemployment rose. The combination of inflation and government-mandated price-fixing led to the rise of black markets in rice, beans, sugar, and flour, and a "disappearance" of such basic commodities from supermarket shelves.
Recognising that US intelligence was trying to destabilise his presidency, the KGB offered financial assistance to the first democratically-elected Marxist president. However, the reason behind the US covert actions against Allende concerned not the spread of Marxism but fear over losing control of its investments. 20% of total US foreign investment was tied up in Latin America. Part of the CIA's program involved a propaganda campaign that portrayed Allende as a would-be Soviet dictator, even though their own intelligence reports showed that Allende posed no threat to democracy. Richard Nixon’s administration inserted secret operatives in Chile, in order to destabilise Allende's government and international financial pressure restricted economic credit to Chile. The CIA funded opposition media and politicians. By 1972, the economic progress of Allende's first year had been reversed, and the economy was in crisis. Political polarisation increased, and both pro- and anti- government demonstrations became frequent. By 1973, Chilean society had grown highly polarised, between strong opponents and strong supporters of Salvador Allende and his government. Military actions and movements, separate from the civilian authority, began to manifest in the countryside. The Tanquetazo was a failed military coup d'état attempted against Allende in June 1973. In its "Agreement", 1973, the Chamber of Deputies asserted that Chilean democracy had broken down and called for "redirecting government activity", to restore constitutional rule. 1973, the Chilean military deposed Allende, who shot himself in the head to avoid capture as the Presidential Palace was surrounded and bombed. Subsequently, rather than restore governmental authority to the civilian legislature, Augusto Pinochet exploited his role as Commander of the Army to seize total power and to establish himself at the head of a junta. CIA involvement in the coup is documented; it released documents in 2000 acknowledging that Pinochet was one of their favoured alternatives to take power.

Posted by PetersF 17:40 Archived in Chile Tagged museum chile santiago wine vineyards rapa_nui

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.