Porsche guide to a Chile road trip: artistic jewel of a unique country
Street art and fascinating funiculars in colourful Valparaíso
A colourful mural decorates a wall in Valparaíso, Chile
Known as the Land of Fire and Ice, Chile has an impressively diverse landscape, from desert and lakes to fjords and glaciers. But in the port city of Valparaíso, time-honoured mobility solutions and a vibrant art scene lift visitors up literally and creatively
Valparaíso: a stairway to artistic heavenSome 120 kilometres north west of Chile’s capital, Santiago, is one of this extraordinary country’s most fascinating cities. Made up of 45 distinctive hillside neighbourhoods, Valparaíso is a labyrinth of stairways, cobblestone alleys and cheerfully painted houses, a place possessing a unique topography that and an authentic port character. The layout itself resembles that of an amphitheatre – a bay on the Pacific that’s surrounded by lush hills as far as the eye can see. Clinging to them, tucked in like swallows’ nests, are an array of grand houses, built between 1880 and 1940 when Valparaíso was one of the centres of world trade.
Old red and white colonial house in Valparaíso, Chile
Architectural treasure in the historic quarter of the port city of Valparaiso
A funicular solutionBack in these early days of globalisation, long before the opening of the Panama Canal, inhabitants of the city came up with a way of travelling over the hills – a solution that is as exciting as it is unique. A network of funiculars were built to run up and down the hills that connect the different quarters, forming a unique transport system. Around 30 went into operation between 1883 and 1931. The colourful cityscape bears testimony to these symbols of the great industrial age to this day, with several of the funiculars still in working order. The rest remain as landmark monuments in need of renovation that, you hope, one day will come.
Historic funicular in Valparaíso in Chile
A unique mobility solution: Valparaíso’s funiculars give each of the hills they serve a charming landmark
Since the rickety wooden boxes have been in operation over many decades, even a short journey is something of an adventure. The cars creak as they lumber up the hills, passengers disembarking at the end of the line to be rewarded with a view over the city, port and sea. The El Peral funicular connects Valparaíso at sea level to Alegre Hill, where splendid colonial houses await visitors, such as the impressive art nouveau palace built for Croatian merchant, Pascual Baburizza. Today, this ostentatious house with its striking patinated roof is home to the Museum of Fine Arts.
Historic funicular with a vista over the port of Valparaíso, Chile
Valparaíso’s port was a once a symbol of the city’s might, but its funiculars maintain a cheerful face
Explosion of creativityValparaíso may not be a meticulously tended beauty, but it still ranks as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the vibrancy and creativity that breathes throughout it. It’s known worldwide for its many murals. Its stairways, crooked streets and walls provide the perfect canvases for urban artworks that have become a must-see for visitors to the city. There is believed to be over 1,400 works of street art, forming an open-air gallery where more than 300 artists have left their mark. After years spent painting in New York and other global graffiti capitals, many Valparaíso natives are gradually returning to their unconventional home city, answering the call of a loud and bold street art scene.
View of Alegre Hill and Baburizza Palace in Valparaíso, Chile
Valparaiso’s buildings line up like a waterfall of colors
A Porsche guide to epic landscapes Combining an authentic atmosphere, Victorian architecture, a wealth of street art and arresting vistas, Valparaíso bears outstanding testimony to a time when the city was South America’s main commercial port. It’s another intriguing facet of this 4,300km-long country that’s packed with diversity and breathtaking landscapes. Chile plays host to awesome volcanoes, snow-capped peaks, desert stretches and frozen lakes, all at once. A land with destinations that offer distinctive adventures that will remain in any traveller’s memory for a lifetime. And with the Porsche Travel Experience, you can create your own dream road trip, customised completely to you, to destinations that span the entire globe. Ones that will build long-lasting memories.This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.
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