Cerro Santa Lucia
Of all the things that make Santiago special, its breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped mountains definitely tops the list. From most places in the city, you can see at least a bit of the magnificent Andes–and there are certain places that offer better views than others. One such spot is Cerro Santa Lucia, which is a park built on a hill located in the center of the city. At 69 meters high, this hill provides one of the loveliest views of the city, and is a great place to spend an afternoon.
This hill is actually quite the historical locale. First off, It is the remnant of a 15 million year old volcano. Secondly, the conquistadors used it as a lookout point when they were conquering Chile. It was atop this hill that Pedro de Valdivia declared the founding of Santiago in 1541. In 1872, governer Benjamin Vickuna Mackenna decided to turn the hill into a park to commemorate its significance in the city’s history. Since then, it has undergone many renovations. Today, it comprises 65,300 square meters, replete with bronze gates, metal stairways, and various fountains and statue
Other than a few terrace areas, the park is essentially vertical. You’ll keep moving up and winding around the hill if you follow any of the various staircases. On each level, there is a place to pause, relax, and take in the view. However, to get the best shot of the city, you’ll have to head all the way up to the top. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. The distance is not long, but you’ll climb quite a few stairs as you make your way up. The final staircase is a bit treacherous; it’s steep, narrow, and not recommended for small children or individuals with limited mobility. The park is equipped with an elevator, but it does not arrive to the highest point.
If you can help it, try to visit the hill on a clear day. Unfortunately, Santiago suffers from a serious smog problem, which, on a heavy day, can totally obscure the view of the mountains. It’s best to visit on the weekend, as there is less traffic in the city and therefore less pollution. The hill can be a great addition to any sightseeing walk involving the center—it’s right between Barrios Lastarria and Bellas Artes, two of Santiago’s most charming artsy areas. If you’re in the market for souvenirs, you’re in luck. The hill is located directly across from the Santa Lucia artisan market, where you can find a wide range of reasonably priced Chilean items.
How To Get There
Cerro Santa Lucia is located along Libertador Bernado O’Higgins, just beside the metro stop of its same name. If you exit the metro to the east, you’ll see an ornate set of gates leading to several stone staircases. Enter here and you’ll be inside the park. There’s a chance that a security guard will ask you to sign in and provide your passport number, but this has been less common in recent years. Entrance is free and the park is open from 9 am to 7 pm every day of the year.