National Monuments in the South of the Country
Monitor Huáscar Talcahuano, a commercial and industrial port, is home to the Monitor Huáscar (1879), which is conserved as a Sanctuary of Heroism.
Plaza de la Independencia, Concepción Indepedence Square is the historic site where General Bernardo O’Higgins proclaimed the Independence of Chile on 1st January 1818.
Sanctuary of the birthplace of Arturo Prat: The Hacienda San Agustín de Puñal, located in the village of Ninhue 46 kms. north-west of Chillán, is the birthplace of Arturo Prat Chacón. The hacienda is a sanctuary and there is a museum in which objects associated with the hero of the Sea Battle of Iquique are exhibited and his life history is recorded. The main house, a typical eighteenth century country house, was declared a National Monument in 1968.
The sanctuary covers 8 hectares. The house consists of a hall, living rooms furnished with contemporary furniture, a wing devoted to the lives of the hero and his ancestors and the "sacrifice" wing. This sector contains the hero’s personal belongings and planks taken from his ship, the "Esmeralda". There is an oratory with a wooden cross which contains inlaid pieces of the Esmeralda’s planks and a regional museum with a display of various agricultural implements from 1848. The village of Ninhue has a long history, surviving on handicrafts and subsistence farming, however the quantity of vineyards producing delicious musts should also be mentioned. The typical handicrafts are made of straw, which is used to produce hats, bags, mats, etc.
Hacienda Las Canteras located 30 kms. east of Los Angeles. This farm was the property of Bernardo O’Higgins. There is a chestnut tree here which was planted by the Liberator when he lived and farmed in this area.
Fuerte de la Planchada: A Spanish fort located 12 kms. east of Concepción, in the town of Penco. This vestige of Chilean history was constructed as a defensive work in the struggle against the local Araucans. It was founded in 1687. Today only three of its cannons remain. It is located 50 metres from the railway station of Penco, a district renowned for its forestry, fishing and port activities. The Penco earthenware industry was also well-known.
Fuerte Santa Juana de Guadalcazar: A Spanish fort founded on 8th March 1626 by Luis Fernández de Córdova y Arce, now declared a National Monument. It is located 52 kms. south of Concepción. All that remains today are the perimeter walls and the main gate. It overlooks the Biobío river and a part of the town of Santa Juana. The main activities of the town, and of the neighbouring municipalities of Nacimiento, Coronel, Curanilahue, Lota and Arauco, are farming and forestry.
Lota: This old mining village, located 9 kms. south of Coronel, is today an important town. Its growth is due to the coal mining activities started in 1852 by Matías Cousiño. It was founded in 1662 by the Spanish governor Angel de Peredo, and was granted the title of city on 5th January 1875. In 1852 Matías Cousiño purchased the land and set up a coal mining company. The principal tourist attractions of the town are the Parque Isidora Goyenechea de Cousiño, now known as the Lota Park; the Fort of Lota, which is located in the district and was declared a National Monument in 1926; and the Fort of Colcura, also declared a National Monument in 1977. Lota is divided into two sectors: Upper (Alto) and Lower (Bajo). Lota Bajo is sited close to the sea in a valley between the hills, and is where the town’s commercial activities and public services are located. Lota Alto contains the mine installations and the typical houses of a mining settlement.
Cañete: This old town is located 8 kms. north of Lanalhue lake. The original fort was built in 1552 by the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, and was the site of the deaths both of Valdivia and later the Araucan chief Caupolicán. Apart from its historical importance, it lies on the approach to the Nahuelbuta National Park and Lanalhue lake. Its population of some 30,000 inhabitants work principally in forestry production and livestock raising. The tourist attractions are: Tucapel Fort, declared a National Monument in 1963, Plaza Caupolicán, and the "Juan Antonio Ríos" Araucan museum all of which commemorate the wars of Arauco and the way of life of the indigenous Mapuche people. Nearby are the beautiful natural features of Lanalhue lake and the Paicaví river.
Nacimiento: A small town located 104 kms. south of Concepción. It was founded in 1603 by the Governor Alonso de Ribera. Its history is reflected in Fuerte Nacimiento, originally a pucará or indigenous fort on the remains of which the Spanish fort was built in 1603. It was declared a National Monument in 1954. Rebuilt on various occasions over the years, it played a fundamental part in the Conquest, the Pacification of Araucanía and the wars of Independence. Today the town has some 25,000 inhabitants and its principal importance depends on the concentration of industrial plants for the treatment of wood and its derivatives, paper and cellulose.
Santa Bárbara: A town located 38 kms. south-east of Los Angeles. It was founded on 4th July 1758 with the construction of the Santa Bárbara Fort. The population today is approximately 17,700. The principal economic activities are arable farming, livestock farming and forestry. There are seven Pehuenche settlements in the area known as "Alto del Biobío" and many tourist attractions. The mountainous countryside of the Andean foothills is rich in waterfalls, ravines and picturesque tracks. Streams run down to join the Queuco river and the road which climbs up beside the river finally reaches the Copahue pass and connects with Argentina.
Tucapel: Located 73 kms. north-east of Los Angeles. In the local Amerindian language Tucapel means "capture by force". The history of the village goes back to the foundation of the San Diego Fort in 1723, declared a National Monument in 1972. The Spaniards formed a village around the fort in 1765. The fort was burnt down twice and it was decided to establish the village to the north-east of the construction. Today the inhabitants sow wheat and oats, and there is also some livestock rearing on a small scale. However forestry is the most important activity. The attractions include the Municipal Bathing Resort, the lake at Tupán hemmed in by mountains and Manco Lake at Polcura.
Fuerte San Carlos, Purén The fort was declared a National Monument in 1975. It is sited on an outcrop some 50 mts. high and overlooks the Purén valley. It dates from 1869 and the construction resulted from an agreement between the Mapuche caciques and the commander of the pacification troops. It covers an area of approximately 2,500 square metres. The whole area is fenced in by a palisade, with a walkway and two observation towers at the corners. It is the only reconstructed fort in the region. There is an archaeological display of Mapuche artefacts.
The Four White Marble Sculptures and Ornamental Pool in the Plaza de Armas at Angol: The Plaza de Armas (main square) in Angol is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in Chile. In the centre is a fountain with sculpted figures standing at each of the four corners. These represent the four continents known at that time (1862), namely America, Europe, Asia and Africa. They were carved by Virginio Arias and are surrounded by trees including magnolias, cypresses and cedars.
Malleco Viaduct: Declared a National Monument in 1990, the railway viaduct is located at Km. 567 of the Pan-American Highway South, 1 km. south of the town of Collipulli. It was built over the deep gorge of the Malleco river and is one of the largest works of metal engineering in Chile. It is 407.5 mts. long and the height of the rails above the water level is 97.6 mts. It consists of 5 very high open ironwork towers. At the corners of each of these towers stand cylindrical pillars, surmounted by box section beams which support the railway lines. It was designed by Victorino Lastarria and prefabricated in France. It took three years to assemble in position and was inagurated by the president, J.M. Balmaceda, on 26th October 1890.
House of Carlos Thiers: The house and grounds which today are home to the Araucanía Regional Museum in Temuco together form a whole which is highly representative of the styles of construction and ornamentation of the 1920s. The design of the park and the construction of the house were commissioned by the owner, Carlos Thiers, a descendant of German colonists, from the architect Carlos Caballero, who executed the work in 1924. The building is a compact volume on two floors, constructed on a raised base. The main entrance is up a staircase leading to a roofed portico with supporting columns.
The grounds contain various exotic species such as lime trees, palm trees, wellingtonias and many ornamental flowers. The heritage value of the building and grounds is particularly important since Temuco is a city which has suffered profound urban and architectural changes in the last thirty years. The Araucanía Regional Museum, which belongs to the Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums, was created in 1941 and moved into its present home in 1970. It contains an important collection of archaeological and ethnological objects from the Mapuche culture, as well as other pieces relating to the history of the Araucanía region, providing an integrated view of the European and indigenous contributions to life in the region today. Many educational activities are carried out in the museum, which includes rooms fitted out for that purpose.
Casa de Máquinas (Locomotive Shed) de Temuco: The railway came to Temuco officially on the first day of the year 1893. The first engine sheds were built slightly north of the existing construction, on land ceded to the State Railway Company (Ferrocarriles del Estado) by the Mapuche indians. Temuco became an important railway centre, where long distance trains changed locomotives. It was also the depot for the locomotives which ran the branch line services to nearby towns such as Carahue, Cunco and Cherquenco. During the early decades of the twentieth century complex repairs were carried out to locomotives in the Temuco locomotive sheds. Simple repairs continued to be carried out in Temuco after the San Bernardo workshop came into operation in 1920.
Around 1930 it became ever more obvious that the original locomotive shed was insufficient and it was decided to build a new one, initially to complement the old shed without replacing it. This is the structure which is still standing, built in two phases between 1937 and 1941. Up until 1954, only steam engines were repaired in Temuco, but in that year repairs started to be done on diesel engines also. Nevertheless, up until the 1980s there were never any diesel engines permanently assigned to Temuco.
At the beginning of the decade, the permanent establishment of the complex consisted of two type 56 steam locomotives; eleven type 57; one type 58; nine type 70 and fourteen type 80. In 1982, the management of Ferrocarriles del Estado ordered the establishment of a reserve fleet of steam-powered engines to be formed in Temuco. For this reason, at the end of 1983 intermediate repairs were done to some seven type 80 locomotives and one type 70. Subsequently, in 1984, another type 57 was repaired (number 620) to draw the train which was to carry out the electrification of the stretch of track from Santa Fe to Metrenco (in the end a diesel engine was assigned to this job). The firebox of the last steam locomotive was finally put out towards the end of 1983, signalling the end of the normal use of the Casa de Máquinas. The site continued to be used for carrying out oil changes and inversions of diesel engines, type D-16000 and others, and also as an operating base for track maintenance work.
There were other locomotive sheds similar to that in Temuco along the length of the southern railway network, for example in San Eugenio and San Rosendo. However the Temuco shed was the last operating base for steam engines in the whole country. In 1984, the recently founded Chilean Association for the Preservation of Railway Heritage (Asociación Chilena de Conservación del Patrimonio Ferroviario – ACCPF) took on the task of organizing a tourist journey by steam in the "Araucanía Train" (Tren de la Araucanía). To do this they used the only type 70 locomotive which had ben repaired, Nº 714. The Tren de La Araucanía ran for the first time to Lonquimay on 12th October 1984, and over the next ten years it made the trip some 30 times, always drawn by Nº 714 which was kept in good working order by the local members of the Association. In 1989 Ferrocarriles del Estado realized that it would never use the locomotives which it had had repaired seven years earlier, and considered selling the site on which the engine sheds stood, along with the locomotives which would undoubtedly be turned into scrap. This led the ACCPF to apply to have the Casa de Máquinas, with the 14 locomotives stored there, declared a Historical Monument. Recently the limits of the Historical Monument have been extended by an Exempt Decree to incorporate 11 other units of rolling stock into the declaration.
The Casa de Máquinas and the rolling stock which it contains are the property of Ferrocarriles del Estado. It is located one kilometre north of Temuco Station and covers an area of some 19 hectares. It is a railway yard complex, the essential component of which is the round-house, constructed in concrete and roofed. The round-house has 34 bays set round a turntable 27 metres long. This is able to turn a type 80 locomotive with tender, with a total weight in excess of 160 tons. Next to the round-house is a workshop for carrying out repairs to locomotives. There are offices, changing rooms for the staff, a big coal bunker for loading fuel into the locomotive tenders, a coal depot and a workshop for repairs to carriages. The monument is kept in a reasonable state of repair. It has suffered the loss of a number of pieces and a complete locomotive, Nº 714, which was transferred to Santiago. In 1992 and 1993 resources from the National Fund for the Development of the Arts (FONDART) were invested in repairs to the structure of the round-house (particularly the roof and windows), the removal of rubble from the site, painting some of the carriages which form a part of the collection, and the installation of conveniences and a meeting room in the old changing rooms. The Casa de Máquinas functions as an open-air museum. The Chilean Corporation for the Conservation of the Temuco Railway Museum, which is responsible for the site, has made an invaluable contribution to the preservation of this material.
Torreón Los Canelos: This old watch tower, located in Valdivia at the junction of Calle Picarte with Calle General Lagos, was declared a National Monument in 1926. One of two such towers constructed in the 17th century, it is a relic of the Spanish colonial period. It is in an excellent state of repair and is open to the public at no cost.
Niebla Fort: Declared a National Monument in 1950. This Spanish defensive work protected the entrance to the Bay of Corral. It dates back to 1647, but at that time there was already a shore battery on the site. The fort overlooks the Bay of Corral, the entrance to the bay and the open sea.
Achao Church (Chiloé): Declared a National Monument in 1951. It is located in the village of Achao at the eastern end of the Island of Quinchao and dates from 1764. It is a rectangular building with a two-pitched roof. The church is built mainly of alerce and cypress wood. The outsides of the walls are faced with alerce shingles, the same material as the roof.
Church of San Francisco De Castro: Declared a National Monument in 1979. It is located in the main square of Castro, northwest of the junction of Calle San Martín and Calle Gamboa. The land on which the first church was built belonged to the Jesuit Fathers (1608). After the expulsion of the order, it passed into the hands of the Franciscan Friars (1767). The church has twice been destroyed by fire. The existing building was started in 1906 and was restored in 1911. It is the biggest church on the Island of Chiloe. It has two towers. The structure is made of roble, cypress and ulmo wood; the outside is lined with galvanized iron sheets and the same material was used for the roof. The inside is lined with planks of raulí and olivillo.
Dalcahue Church: Declared a National Monument in 1971. The present church was built in 1858, however the first work was raised by the Jesuits at the end of the 17th century. In the second half of the eighteenth century it passed into the hands of the Franciscans. The principal materials used are cypress, alerce and ulmo wood. The outside lining is galvanized iron sheets. The last restoration was done in 1980-81. Source: www.monumentos.cl and www.segegob.cl