Valparaiso, approximately 125 km from the Chilean capital of Santiago, is a beautiful and vibrant world heritage city and a major seaport. The third-largest metropolitan of Chile, this naval base was an obligatory stop between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing Cape Horn and Straits of Magellan. The colonial city of Valparaiso is home to many colorful buildings, graffiti, soulful murals, and exotic examples of street art. One can find breath-taking landscapes, exhausting hills or cerros, and a rich historic backdrop due to which it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003. Wandering around the city, one can experience brilliant and poetic chaos among the lanes and the people.

Here are some important places and buildings an Architect must visit on their trip to Valparaiso, Chile.

1. Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso

The Historic Quarter is the perfect replica of the 19th-century architectural pattern seen in Latin America. It displays a monumental seaport style of architecture and is a lively example of urban planning over the steep slopes. At the commencement point of the city where settlements had started developing, one can find fascinating facades, street art, and murals painted all over the structures.

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Buildings at Historic Quarter ©TripAdvisor
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Historic Quarter ©TripAdvisor
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Looking down the Bay ©TripAdvisor

2. Armada de Chile, Valparaiso (Navy Building)

Headquarters to the Chilean naval base, this building is a pure architectural marvel that lies in front of the Monument to the Heroes of Iquique in the crown of Plaza Sotomayor. Both these monuments are constructed in remembrance of the Chilean Naval Soldiers. A French neoclassical masterpiece, its interiors highlight various elements from the French Palaces such as ornamental lamps, wooden furniture, marble staircases, central porticos, skylights, ornamental facades, and internal columns, etc.

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Detail of the clock on the facade ©Wikipedia
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Interior Details ©TripAdvisor
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Navy building and Monument to the Heroes of Iquique in Plaza Sotomayor ©My Guide Chile

3. Cathedral Saint Paul, Valparaiso

Built-in 1858 in Cerro Concepcion, this 162-year-old National Monument was designed by an English engineer William Lloyd Wright. This English Neo-Gothic building is not only the first Anglican Cathedral in the country, but it also has a rich cultural and political background. Visiting this World Heritage Site is a must because this building is structurally solid with remarkable interiors. Some must-see elements in the building are the Oregon pine roof beams, the choir, chancel and baptistery area, the rood screen, and the Queen Victoria Memorial Organ. The structure has beautiful stained glass windows which permit an ample supply of light and ventilation. There are different spiritual messages painted on the windows in the Gothic-Renaissance style.

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Interior of the Cathedral ©TripAdvisor
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Stained Glass Windows behind the Altar © Saint Paul Chile
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Vintage Image of the Cathedral © Saint Paul Chile

4. Biblioteca Santiago Severin

The regional library of Valparaiso is the first public library to be constructed in the country. In 1912, a businessman from Buenos Aires, Santiago Severin, provided the necessary funds to erect a building. The architects Arnaldo Barison and Renato Schiavon and the Engineer Augusto Geiger played a major role in the construction of the building. The building is designed in a Neoclassical style of architecture with exquisite elements such as pilasters, eardrums, capitals, and latticework.

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Interior of the Library Building ©biblioteca severin
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Library Building ©TripAdvisor
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Library Building beautifully lit at night ©biblioteca severin

5. Paseo Gervasoni, Valparaiso

This neighborhood is a perfect place for those who would love to admire beautiful street art, vintage Chilean Buildings, and enjoy the cheerful experience of street food and shopping in pedestrian retail shops and restaurants. This elevated promenade gives an amazing panoramic view of the Valparaiso port and the undulating streets. Every building on the streets is covered with paints that display bizarre yet magnificent themes.

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Lanes of Paseo Gervasoni ©TripAdvisor
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Street Art ©TripAdvisor

6. Palacio Polanco

This palace is a luxurious mansion built at the beginning of the 20th century on land reclaimed from the sea. At present, it is retained by the Carabineros de Valparaiso prefecture. This building has high heritage value as it displays beautiful ornamental elements built in the Neo-Baroque style of architecture like projections, porticos, railings, and capitals. The masonry is concealed in the stucco façade. The roof is a galvanized steel mansard roof with a central dome, all covered in elements decorated with plaster and wood.

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Detail of the Palace Tower ©Wikipedia
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Ornamentation Detail ©Wikipedia
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Palacio Polanco ©Pinterest

7. Museo de Historia Natural de Valparaíso

Built-in 1878, this museum is beautifully constructed with elements like pillars, capitals, windows, niches delicately ornamented in the exterior, and some parts of the interior as well. Some rooms have been designed and lit in contrast with the exhibits displayed there. The circulation passages are also decorated with stained glass windows and carved wooden trusses.

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Circulation Passages ©TripAdvisor
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Interior of the Museum ©LLD
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Museum of Natural History ©TripAdvisor

8. Palacio Baburizza, Valparaiso

This eclectic style palace was constructed in 1916 by Italian Architects. It was converted into a Fine Arts Museum in 1971. Exhibiting Art Nouveau elements on its façade and ornamentation on the towers and columns, other notable features of the building are its windows, balconies, attics, etc. Although a museum, the palace interiors still reflect the royal lifestyle of the people living here a long time ago.

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Interior of the Palace ©mpaarquitectos
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Palacio Baburizza ©Wikipedia
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The Unique Marble Fireplace in the Palace ©conociendochile

9. Iglesia de La Matriz del Salvador (The Matriz Church of the Savior)

Following a typical basilica planning, this National monument is a simple yet classic piece of architecture in Chile. The church lies on 8 Doric columns that support the varnished wooden truss. The floor was also laid in wood but later replaced by tiles. Stained glass windows, skylights, and a two-storied octagonal bell tower are some other features that contribute to the elegance of the church.

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Iglesia de La Matriz ©TripAdvisor
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Interior of the church ©proyectodocumenta
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Round windows act as Skylights ©proyectodocumenta

10. El Arco Británico (British Arch)

This monument was donated by the British immigrants living in the colonies in 1910 to commemorate 100 years of Independence of Chile. It was designed by the Chilean architect Alfredo Azancot. It is constructed in Italian marble and has a British Victorian Lion on the upper part and medallions on the sides.

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El Arco Británico ©TripAdvisor
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Official Poster commemorating 100 years of Independence ©Wikipedia
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Rose Gardens along the Monument ©TripAdvisor

11. Bolsa de Valores de Valparaíso (Valparaiso Stock Exchange)

This Renaissance-style building was inaugurated in 1892 and is an important Government Building in the city. The roof of the central foyer made of wood and plaster is supported with complex truss systems of wrought iron and concrete. It surrounds the dome which is created of wrought iron and glass. The column capitals display beautiful ornamentation work.

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Bolsa de Valores de Valparaíso ©Wikipedia
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Entrance to the Building ©TripAdvisor
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Interior of the Valparaiso Stock Exchange ©cracvalparaiso

12. Plaza el Descanso

Another plaza designed for the people to spend some leisure time in the neighborhood, the main highlight of this place is the beautiful hearts made with numerous broken ceramic pieces covering the entire wall and seating spaces. It is a perfect background for photoshoots.

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Ceramics on the wall ©TripAdvisor
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Seating Spaces ©TripAdvisor
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The Plaza ©TripAdvisor

13. Edificio Luis Cousiño

Originally named Crucero Guevara, this office building was built by textile businessman Luis Guevara Arias in 1883. It is a Neoclassical Cruise-shaped building which at present belongs to the DUOC Educational Centre. Being one of the most important cultural centers of the city, this national monument houses many educational facilities, exhibitions, and conventional halls, theaters, etc. with beautiful murals painted on the internal walls.

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Edificio Luis Cousino ©disenoarquitectura
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Interior of the Building ©TripAdvisor
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Interior of the Building ©TripAdvisor

14. La Sebastiana Museo de Pablo Neruda

La Sebastiana is one of the three residences of the Chilean poet and Literature Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda which is converted into a museum displaying his life and notable works. The house is situated on a hill which offers a magnificent look at the bay.  One can see a variety of shapes, colors, and heights on the exterior part of the house with elements such as windows, stairs, skylights, railings, doors, and hardware, which make each space of the house exclusive. The interiors are loaded with different collections of Neruda Like dishes with hot air balloons, many maps, old marines, stained glass, etc.

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Interior of the house ©Chile Travel
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La Sebastiana ©yo de viajes
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Upper Loft converted to Dining Room ©wikipedia

15. Ascensors / Funiculars

Valparaiso is an incredibly hilly city, due to which many areas in the city are inaccessible. Hence, between1887 and 1992, more than 30 ‘Funiculars’ or elevators had been installed in the city out of which 15 are still in use and are declared as Historical monuments. Among them, Polanco is a different elevator that operates through a tower whereas El Peral, Artilleria, Reina Victoria, Concepcion work on inclined railway tracks. One should have an Ascensor (as the locals call it) ride on their trip to this sloping city.

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Ascensor Artilleria ©Elmartutino
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Ascensor Polanco © Alamy Stock Photo
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Ascensor Concepcion when it was first installed © Flickr
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Ascensor Reina Victoria © Flickr

Richa Shah is a young architect who loves to explore various stories in architecture. She is very much engrossed in researching about different topics and thinks that architecture can be evolved through writing and communicating. She is a trained classical dancer, an experimental cook, and is obsessed with history, ruins, and civilizations and wishes to explore the countless tales that lie buried beneath them.