National Monuments of the Central Zone
Valparaíso Customs House
Declared a National Monument in 1976. It stands between Calle Bustamante and Calle Lord Cochrane. The building was constructed by a North American, John Brown, in the American colonial style in 1854. It has stuccoed brick walls 1.20 meters thick, and is raised on stone foundations. The roof, staircase and supports of the second storey are of wood.
Estación Barón Clock Tower
Declared a National Monument in 1972.It is located between Avenida España and Avenida Argentina. The tower is built of exposed brick-work, 15.20 meters high, with an interior wooden staircase giving access to the workings of the clock, which was made in England. It dates from 1865 and its location is the site of the station where the first rail was laid for the line which connected Santiago with Valparaíso.
Declared a National Monument in 1976. It is located between Avenida Argentina and Calle Simpson. It was inaugurated in 1916 and is the most picturesque elevator in the city, still serving as the access to Cerro Polanco. On leaving the bottom station in Calle Simpson, one enters a tunnel 150 meters long and 2.50 meters high. The elevator rises vertically to an intermediate station and then continues inside a tower, from the top of which a bridge gives access to the surrounding streets. At a height of 58 meters, the top station offers an excellent view-point over the popular quarters which surround the tower.
Iglesia de la Matriz
This church was declared a National Monument in 1971. It is located in the Plazuela La Matriz, which has been declared a zone of historical and tourist interest. This national monument is the oldest church in the city, first built in 1559 and reconstructed in 1837. Of particular interest inside the church is the sculpture of Christ of the Agony, carved in wood at the end of the 17th century (Seville school), the face of which can hardly be seen because of its strange position.
Declared a National Monument in 1976. It is located in Salvador Donoso 1337. The palace building faces onto both Avenida Brasil and Calle Bellavista. It was constructed between 1888 and 1890 and enlarged in 1929. Today it is the clubhouse of the German Club.
Declared a National Monument in 1985. It is located at the corner of Calle Quillota and Calle 3 Norte. It is a lordly palace constructed at the beginning of the last century (1907). It is now home to the Music Conservatory and the Palacio Rioja cinema. It is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 14:00 hrs and from 15:00 to 18:00 hrs.
Pablo Neruda’s House
Declared a National Monument in 1990. The address is Camino Vecinal s/n, Isla Negra. It is a large, attractive, seaside house built of stone and wood, a reflection of the spirit of the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Apart from the house of the well-known poet Pablo Neruda, look for the woollen embroideries made by the local craftswomen.
The visitor can visit this pretty village on foot, collecting agates, sunbathing, enjoying beach entertainments and savouring the local cuisine based on fish and seafood.
San Francisco de Curimón Church and Convent
Declared a National Monument in 1971. It is close to the main highway from Los Andes to San Felipe. This church belongs to the order of St Francis of Curimón, and contains valuable paintings of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, together with other objects from the colonial period.
Church and Cloister of the Good Shepherd (Iglesia y Claustro del Buen Pastor)
Declared a National Monument in 1989. It is located at the corner of Calle Yungay and Alameda Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins. The church was inaugurated in 1872 and contains a very valuable main altar of cast bronze, which won first prize for Religious Art in the Paris exhibition of 1890. On one side is the "Grotto of the Virgin of Lourdes".
Located 20 kms from La Ligua. This picturesque village is attractively set against a backdrop of surrounding mountains and valleys. A tour of the village will take in the family house of La Quintrala, a historic site located in the Hacienda El Ingenio. The area belonged to doña Catalina de los Ríos y Lisperguer, under the title of an "Encomienda". This aristocratic lady, who lived in the 17th century, is better known La Quintrala and is one of the more sinister figures of Chilean history, being denounced on various occasions for committing the crimes of whipping and murdering her slaves.
Shortly before she died, in January 1665, she ordered a thousand masses to be said in her name. Her remains were buried in the Church of Saint Augustine in Santiago, where the image of the "Cristo de Mayo" is kept. La Quintrala had had this same image removed from her house, saying that she did not want to see "men with disapproving looks".
Casa de la Cultura
Located in Calle 5 Norte, Nº 211 in Rancagua. This old construction formed part of the estate houses of the El Puente farm, a section of the Hacienda El Carmen; later, on 1st and 2nd October 1814, it served as the headquarters of Colonel Mariano Osorio, commanding the royalist army. The house has been declared a National monument.
Visiting times: Tuesday to Friday from 08:30 to 13:00 hrs and 15:00 to 18:00 hrs.
Church of La Merced
Located at the corner of Calle Estado and Calle Cuevas in Rancagua. Its construction dates back to the 18th century and it is famous for its important historical role in the Battle of Rancagua, when the father of Chilean independence, don Bernardo O’Higgins, watched from the tower and waited in vain for the arrival of Carrera bringing help. The Parish House is next to the church.
Visiting times: Monday to Sunday.
Casa del Pilar de Esquina
Located in Calle Estado, Nº 682 in Rancagua. The date of construction of this old colonial house "with the corner pillar" is unknown. Its frontage is two storeys high along Calle Estado, only one storey on Calle Ibieta. Inside, a part of the old main patio is preserved.
It has thick walls of adobe with wooden beams. The roof structure is of ‘roble’ wood and is covered by a lattice of bamboo, tied with leather thongs, which supports the covering of straw and clay mixed by hand. This structure is the original roofing of the buildings.
A village located 13 kms north of Rancagua. This is essentially an agro-industrial sector. A particular attraction in the village is the Casa Hodgkinson, and 6 kms to the east is the pukará (Inca fort) on the La Compañía mountain, both declared Historical Monuments.
Museum of San José del Carmen – El Huique
This National Historical Monument is one of the most valuable historical sites in the country and is located in the commune of La Palmilla, 56 kms from San Fernando (road to Pichilemu).
The hacienda, originally part of the Larmague properties, dates from the 17th century. During this period the owners were illustrious figures of Spanish origin, but it was only in 1756 that the royalist Colonel don Pedro Gregorio Echeñique started a veritable dynasty, which kept the property in the same family for almost 200 years.
His grandson don Juan José Echeñique inherited the farm and built the existing house in 1829. The buildings are richly furnished with works of art and antiques; of particular importance are the church, the painting hanging in "doña Elena’s room"; and the bell of the Jesuit church which was the gift of Pedro Subercaseaux to President Errázuriz.
The historic value of the house is only increased by the distinguished figures who have left their mark over the years. One of these was doña Gertrudiz Echeñique, wife of Federico Errázuriz Echaurren, who was president of Chile from 1896-1901. Their daughter, doña Elena Errázuriz Echeñique, begged her children as she was dying to preserve the house in the future. In 1975 they donated the property to the Chilean army.
San Pedro de Alcántara
The principal attraction of the village is its architecture, which led to it being declared a Typical Zone.
The church stands out for its architectural style, complemented by its surroundings, standing as it does on land originally ceded by doña Francisca Muñoz de Gormáz to the Franciscan order for the foundation of a hospice at the end of the 17th century. In 1722 the foundation of the hospice was ratified. It was then that a convent was built, on the orders of Phillip V, which would later give rise to the formation of the surrounding constructions. The convent was finished in 1725 and took the name of San Pedro de Alcántara. The original work was damaged, leading to new construction and restoration works at the beginning of the 20th century.
Located 112 kms west of Curicó. A peaceful, picturesque village dating from the 16th century, declared a Typical Zone on account of its unique architectural characteristics. The old houses still preserve their traditional form, with long corridors, tiled roofs and adobe walls. They were built so as to blend into the local topography.
In the village, the parish church and the interesting Colonial Museum are both worth visiting. The museum is located opposite the municipal building and contains collections belonging to the old museum, with items of ceramics, religious objects and documents referring to local and regional history. The population is firmly rooted in agriculture and faithfully maintains the traditions and customs of the Chilean countryside. The surrounding area contains such attractions as Lago Vichuquén, the Laguna Torca Nature Sanctuary, and the coastal villages of Llico, Duao, Lipimávida and Iloca.
Church of San Francisco in Curicó
Is situated in the San Francisco quarter, at the base of the hill known as Cerro Condell. Its construction dates from the 19th century, of exposed brickwork, with pointed arches and a slender tower. Inside is kept the image of the Virgin of la Velilla, brought to Chile in 1734 by don Manuel Díaz Fernández. It also contains an image of San Francisco, as old as the Virgin mentioned above. Both images have carved heads and hands.
Villa Cultural Huilquilemu
Located 10 kms west of Talca. In the Mapuche language, "Huilquilemu" means the "fox wood". It is an old estate house with long corridors, bamboo roofs, adobe walls and wooden pillars. It dates from 1850 and was declared a National Monument in 1986. The villa has a natural park with native and exotic species, a Museum of Religious Art, handicrafts, fine wines, conference rooms, an oratory, Chapter House and the "New Covenant", a scenic representation of the Last Supper with life-sized figures, which is most moving.
River Claro Bridge
Located 217 kms south of Santiago. The bridge is 117 metres long, 23 metres high and 8.90 metres wide. Its construction dates from 1876 and it was declared a Historical Monument in 1991 on account of its pure Romanesque style. It is outstanding for its seven arches; its style, design and perfect execution make it unique in the country.
O’Higgins and Fine Arts Museum
Located at the corners of Calle 1 Norte and Calle 2 Oriente. The house is in the colonial style and was declared a Historical Monument in 1945, due to its deep historical significance. In this house, on 2nd February 1818, don Bernardo O’Higgins signed the Act of Independence. It also contains collections of Chilean and foreign painters. The archaeological collection includes pre-Colombian pieces: perforated stones and arrowheads found in Vilches. There are also objects of religious art, weapons and war-like objects, a collection of old coins and 18th century furniture.
Located 95 kms north west of Talca and 25 kms south west of Curepto. The old chapel, located close to an indigenous people’s cemetery, dates back to 1580 and was constructed by the indians who lived in this sector.
This picturesque old village located 112 kms north of Linares is notable for its typical colonial style houses with broad corridors. This was the site of the "Yerbas Buenas ambush", a historical event which occurred on 27th April 1813. The sector surrounding the Plaza de Armas and adjacent streets was declared a Typical Zone in 1987, as the architectural features of country dwellings from the first quarter of the 20th century are happily preserved in their purest style. There is a library-museum "Casa de Pareja", which contains 17th century weapons, other ancient objects, historical documents and a small public library. It was declared a Historical Monument in 1984.
Templo Parroquial del Niño Jesús de Villa Alegre
Located in the municipality of Villa Alegre, 20 kms north of Linares. The church was built around 1890 and is home to the remains of Abbot Juan Ignacio Molina. It was declared a National Monument in 1979.
Templo Parroquial de Nirivilo
Located 43 kms west of San Javier. The church, dating from 1834, is the oldest in the province of Linares and contains the remains of close relatives of don Bernardo O’Higgins. It was declared a National Monument in 1984 on account of its architectural features.