The port city of Valparaiso is one of the oldest cities in Chile. The city is composed of a flat, mostly business/industrial section right near the shore that rises sharply into cerros. More than 42 cerros define the city’s landscape. And the cerros — they are covered with dwellings and shops. The streets and stairs are steep, yards are hardly existent, and much of the architecture (at least in the area that we explored) is pre-WWI.
Colors! You’ll find them in Val-po. Many homes and buildings are painted in vibrant colors. This city is distinctly Chilean, unlike ViÃ±a del Mar (which has more of a north-western influence). The city is home to the first public library in Chile and is the birthplace of El Mercurio de ValparaÃso, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in circulation in the world.
(The above three photos came from Wikipedia.)
After parking in an underground garage, we made our way to the port. On the way, the visited the main square where the fire department was displaying their antique engine.
An electric trolly or cable car went down the street. See the cables connecting to the lines above the street?
We visited a port where there were street vendors and the occasional street entertainers.
This group appeared to be a multi-generational family making some extra cash with a percussion routine. Reminded me of Bert in Mary Poppins. See the cords running from one of their shoes to the cymbals on top of the drum? They would kick their foot back to sound the cymbals. Clever.
We rode one of Val-pos incline railways. It was not very long (compared with Chattanooga’s Incline), but it was very steep, and very old, made of wood that creaked as it went. Yikes! I got this photo from Wikipedia. I’m not sure that this is the one we rode. I don’t think so…
Here’s the view – looking up – from our ride. We only rode up. Then walked around for a couple of hours, exploring the streets of shops, houses, restaurants, and art galleries, and came back down via stairways.
I don’t remember the name of the Cerro we explored…I should ask Goyo or Andrea…here’s our little group minus Marathon who took the photo.
Most of the buildings and houses on this particular cerro were old with very high ceilings, huge doors, etc. Clean clothes could be seen hanging out. Right across the street from the clean laundry was this white-table-cloth restaurant.
Notice the artwork on the exterior of this building.
The cerros are covered with dwellings, all built right on the earth, without blasting dynamite to level the ground. The houses are constructed of wood and metal, and they conform to the contour of the earth.
The sad: with a constant breeze from the sea, fire is a very real danger to these closely packed wooden structures. Just two days before we arrived, this happened.
A fire destroyed more than 120 homes before it was contained. Thankfully, I don’t think there were any deaths. After walking the steep, winding streets and looking down on layer after layer of houses packed together, well….the logistics would make fighting fires incredibly difficult.
We spent the late afternoon back in Vina del Mar at a different beach, the family beach. There were more young children, bathrooms that cost $0.75 to use, some outdoor restaurants, and playground and exercise equipment, as well as a big area dedicated to beach volleyball.
I’ll save the rest for next time.
So, what do you think? Should I write a description and then show a corresponding picture? Or should the picture come first?