First settled in 1542, Valparaiso is a centuries old port city spread over 42 sprawling hills which descend to the sea. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal (1914), the Port of Valparaiso was the most important in the South Pacific as ships from around the world called here once they crossed Cape Horn or the Straits of Magellan. Today Valparaiso is an important Naval base, the seat of the Chilean Parliament, and the hills of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion are jointly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To visit Valparaiso is to explore a labyrinth of streets that stretch over the many tiered hillsides facing the bay, and to enjoy the imaginative architecture and bright colours of the homes built by the first Europeans to settle here, many with corrugated iron walls. Enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean from the “21 de Mayo” promenade and panoramic lookout point; visit the La Matriz church and “Plaza Sotomayor” with its impressive Naval Heroes Monument; see the Ex-Governor’s Palace and the Justice Tribunal building, as well as the Turri Clock and the first Spanish language newspaper building, the El Mercurio.
To the northeast of Valparaiso is the “Garden City” of Viña del Mar, renowned for its beautiful avenues lined with immense old trees, well-kept parks, popular resorts, long sandy beaches and holiday atmosphere.