Cultural Heritage Day: Santiago opens up to the public

Launched in 2000, Chile’s Cultural Heritage Day gives millions access to the country’s most emblematic buildings and spaces. It encourages the celebration of our individual and collective identities through a renewed awareness of our surroundings. In Santiago, revisit familiar venues with a refreshed eye or discover some of the capital’s hidden gems.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales

Strolling through the capital is always a feat for architecture aficionados and unsuspecting tourists alike; neo-classical mansions, futuristic skyscrapers and colonial constructions all vie for attention on the city’s main thoroughfares or sinuous, cobbled back streets. Santiago is peculiar that way, though--there are entire neighborhoods that seem to be left to their own devices; gorgeous crumbling constructions which don’t bear as much as an informative plaque.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales

The Día del Patrimonio Cultural (Cultural Heritage Day), held each year on the last Sunday of the month, is a unique opportunity for residents and visitors to experience and visit well-known sights or properties normally closed to the public.

Museums, churches and university campuses as well as an embassy, schools, palaces, mansions and clubs, a police precinct, old hospitals and various buildings serving as headquarters to professionals as diverse as journalists and meteorologists open their doors to the general public, for free or for a small donation.

Most of Santiago’s comunas are taking part in the festivities and will be showcasing their edifices and venues. Some districts are natural choices. The entire barrio historico (historic neighborhood) comes to mind, filled with sumptuous private mansions, museums, residential buildings and cités (groups of homes built for middle class families), but don’t let that stop you from wandering further afield. This year, Peñalolén, Independencia, Recoleta and Maipú are all opening up museums, parks, a temple and other spaces to the public. Guided tours, exhibitions, conferences and debates, workshops, live music and dance also feature on the day.

The complex sum of these tangible and intangible spaces as well what they are used for culturally or socially, their history, legacy and conservation makes up our cultural heritage. According to UNESCO, the notion itself is evolving and makes room for new categories as society occupies new living spaces and engages in new practices.

A Cultural Heritage Day not only offers casual sightseeing and a glimpse into the past; getting to know spaces and buildings more intimately also allows citizens to imprint the city with their presence, allowing a permeable and continuous exchange to take place.

Cultural Heritage Day
Sunday 30 May, 2010
For more information, including detailed programs, participating communes and venues, please check:

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