I am exhausted but happy after a long day out in Santiago. We walked to the nearest station and used the Metro to get to the historical district of Santiago. We all got to try out our Bip! cards, which was fun.
We got off and walked a few blocks to the Palacio de la Moneda, which is kind of like the White House except the president only works there, he doesn’t live there. It is a place of huge historical significance to Chile because during the military coup of September 1973 President Allende refused to step down from his position and they bombed the building, destroying much of the front facade. President Allende actually died in the building, and the story goes that he killed himself but there is some speculation about that. Anyway they rebuilt it, but the new president didn’t want to live there so thus began the tradition that the president does not live there. We got to see the changing of the guard, which happened with much fanfare and fancy marching. Then we got a tour of the palace. It’s called La Palacia de la Moneda because Moneda means coins, and before it was a palace there was a mint on the site. Now the building also houses the collection of 100% silver coins, one for each president in Chile’s history. In the pictures you can see the summer uniforms of the guards, which in the winter is green.
Under the Palacio de la Moneda there used to be a subway station but after the coup they converted it to a cultural center, where we were treated to an explanation of traditional native arts.
So after that we walked to La Plaza de Armas, which is the corazon of Santiago. There we saw the Catedral Metropolitana, statues, the museum of fine arts, and many government buildings that house various departments of the government.
We had lunch at a Hollywood themed restaurant, which was strange because some of the posters were in Spanish, but then there were posters like Clint Eastwood’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and also some James Dean movie.
We did some more walking and touring of the city. Then we stopped for ice cream. Yum! We visited the IFSA-Butler office so we would know where it is, and then headed back to the hotel for dinner (tilapia and potato with cheese). I have blisters on my heels and my legs hurt, but it was worth it!