Art for the People: Top Murals and Graffiti in Santiago

Santiago is home to many art museums, but some of the best art is available for viewing on walls all over the city—for free.

Santiago Chile Murals
Integration "Air" at Metro Ecuador - Photo by Cathy Dean

While some murals and graffiti make passers-by stop and stare, others add to the city surroundings. Here are seven murals worth seeing around town:

1. Integration “Space” and Integration “Air” in Ecuador Metro Station (Metro L1)
Two playful murals of space and sea creatures alike cover the walls at the Ecuador metro stop from floor to ceiling on both sides of the platform stairs. A dazzling swirl of aliens and octopi, the many figures dance together, parade together, float together and swim together. The murals were painted by workshop participants at Teletón, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of disabled children.

2. Verbo América: Quinta Normal Metro Station (Metro L5)
In the Quinta Normal Metro Station hangs the ceramic mural "Verbo América," created in 1983 by Roberto Matta, one of the most well-known artists in Chile. It is an abstraction of the life of the indigenous people. They row, swim and barter along the tiles. At the very right of the work appears a European, depicted by the fancy hat he wears. Everyone is naked, their bodies abstracted and thin. What is in the soil below their feet is visible as is the movement of the stars in the sky.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Cathy Dean

Matta writes, “Verbo América is about the history and the games played between the Mediterranean and Europe that rinsed out into what is called América.” The mural found its permanent home in the Quinta Normal station in 2008 after a stay in Plaza Constitucion and the airport.

Santiago Chile Le Monde Diplomatique
Photo by Cathy Dean

3. Balmaceda Youth Art Extension Center: Quinta Normal Park
The Balmaceda building is noticeable from a distance because every wall is painted. The subway train painted on the side of the building looks almost real. Around the corner, a vine twists and curves. In front, a garden blossoms as two teenagers ride up a ramp on a bicycle. The mural is like a fantasy, as if a whole new world awaits inside.

Santiago Chile Le Monde Diplomatique
Photo by Cathy Dean

4. Rainbow Faces: Barrio Brazil (Metro L5)

At the edge of Plaza Brazil, two murals shine brightly on Huérfanos while the night hotspots sleep during the day. What is most redeeming about these two murals are the shockingly vibrant hues. In the left mural, two faces meet nose-to-nose with a tower of birds behind them. Black outlines divide the rainbow-colored faces into sections, with each small section painted a different hue. The mural to the right is painted in the same black-outline and rainbow style, this time with faces arranged in the form of a tower with the smallest face acting as the mouth of the second.

5. Planeta Rock: Downtown Santiago (closest to La Moneda Station on L1)
On the corner of San Martin and Bernardo O’Higgins (also known as Alameda), Planeta Rock depicts the different facets of hip-hop culture: rapping, DJing, break dancing and graffiti art. Advertising the 2009 Planeta Rock Festival that happened in the beginning of January, this tribute to hip hop was designed and created by graffiti artist team 12 Brillos.

Santiago Chile Le Monde Diplomatique
Photo by Cathy Dean

6. Life and Work: Parque Bustamante Metro Station (Metro L5)
In connection with the Chilean Association of Security (ACHS) and the Santiago Metro, Alejandro “Mono” González created a tribute to

Santiago Chile Le Monde Diplomatique
Photo by Cathy Dean

Chilean workers with this mural. It is one of the longest murals in Santiago, spanning 669.5 meters in length. The sinewy art “talks symbolically of love, death, work, revolutions, nature, sensuality and vitality,” according to the description found on the exit bridge above the tracks. “The mural becomes, like in a movie, a single vision where the human face appears, searching to recover his or her place inside a dehumanizing society.”

7. Love and Happiness: The Mutating Building in Las Condes (Metro L1)
The mutating building where the current work “Love and Happiness” is displayed is located near Plaza Peru, on the corner of Don Carlos and Augusto Leguia, closest to El Golf metro station. Cristian Nuñez, whose family owns the building, came up with the original concept for the artwork. “I wanted to do something

Santiago Chile Le Monde Diplomatique
Photo by Cathy Dean

different, to change the look of the area," he commented. "The idea was to give the workers in the area—who are often stressed out—one or two seconds to change their mindsets and get out of their daily problems.” In the austere community of Las Condes, the building is a visual surprise, one that will continue to provoke questions from passersby. Nuñez has high hopes for the building in the future and adds, “I want to change (the artwork) every year—to have it become a mutating building.”

Though certainly not a complete list, these seven murals offer a pause from the monotonous concrete jungle. They are splashes of color against the canvas of Santiago city life.

Author Bio:
Cathy Dean currently lives in Santiago, Chile where she is attempting to earn a living at writing and searching for the next best mural. You can see more of her writing on her blog: Cathy's Big Adventure (

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