Back in time in Barrio Concha y Toro

Barrio Concha y Toro is a small neighborhood located just north of Metro República in Santiago Centro. While its size and residential character might make it less of a tourist destination than other better-known barrios, its charm and cultural heritage make it worth a stroll through its wandering streets.

 Photo by Francesca Honey
Photo by Francesca Honey

The barrio was built in the 20th century as the owner, Eduardo Concha y Toro, gradually subdivided and built on the land of the Palacio Concha Cazotte, the luxurious mansion he bought from its previous owner. The palace was demolished in 1933, making way for the final wave of construction of the barrio seen today.

 Photo by Francesca Honey
Photo by Francesca Honey

Barrio Concha y Toro is bordered by Erasmo Escala, Avenida Brasil, the Alameda (Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins), and Avenida Ricardo Cumming. The last three of these are busy roads, so you might expect the barrio to be noisy or busy as well. This is not the case. Instead, it is incredibly peaceful, as if the public has overlooked it in their rush to get to the more easily traversed avenues.

The best way to enter Barrio Concha y Toro is from the Alameda. Depending on the direction of approach, turn left or right onto Concha y Toro, a street that from the Alameda, looks like a back alley, forgotten and out of the way. A few steps into the narrow cobblestone streets of Barrio Concha y Toro and away from the busy lanes of the Alameda, the noise melts away and it feels like stepping back in time. If it weren't for the cars parked along the road as a reminder of the actual date, a horse and carriage might be just around one of the bends of the road. The buildings bring to mind a European town in the 17th century; there are intricately detailed stone façades, gothic archways, and leafy trees. In the center of the barrio is Plaza Libertad de Prensa, a tiny cobblestone courtyard with a stone fountain in the center. There are four narrow streets that branch out of the plazoleta, and following them soon leads the wanderer to the northern border of the barrio.

 Photo by Francesca Honey
Photo by Francesca Honey

Despite its calm, tranquil atmosphere, Barrio Concha y Toro is by no means empty. This particular day happened to be the annual "Día del Patrimonio y Arte." There was plenty of activity in the plaza, with tables for the artists to sell their goods, food stands, and a little stage for a puppet show. This festival seems to be just one example of the constant flurry of activity and events that occur in the neighborhood. For more information about what's going on in Barrio Concha y Toro, check out the Facebook page of Espacio de las Artes Concha y Toro.

 Photo by Francesca Honey
Photo by Francesca Honey

For the hungry visitor, there are a few restaurants in the area that emulate the atmosphere of the neighborhood. If you are willing to spend a little more, you can go to Zully, which is located at 34 Concha y Toro, facing the Plaza Libertad de Prensa. There are also Tales Bistro, at 39 Concha y Toro, and Club Santiago, at 2120 Erasmo Escala.

In the midst of a day out sightseeing, it is worth checking out Barrio Concha y Toro, even if only to catch a glimpse of an oasis of calm, quiet, and beautiful old stone buildings right smack in the middle of a bustling, modern city.

*** To get to Barrio Concha y Toro, take Metro line 1 to República. Exit the Metro and cross the Alameda, then turn right and walk about a block, then turn left on Concha y Toro. Voilà!***

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