In northern Santiago, there's a mystical place near the Andes founded over 20 years ago by local artisans and hippies. Welcome to Pueblito Los Dominicos, one of the biggest and most important artisan districts in Latin America.
Photo by Victor Soto
Next to the pueblito, San Vicente Ferrer parish church was a shelter used by Manuel Rodriguez Erdoyza during Chile’s battle for independence in the 1810s. Both Rodriguez and San Vicente Ferrer Church, a national monument, are printed on the CP$2,000 bill.
The huge piece of land where the church and pueblito reside belonged to Chief Apoquindo. The land was acquired by the Canisbro family in 1767, who donated it to the Dominican Fathers of Recoleta--hence the district's name--almost 40 years later. During General Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1978, a handful of artisans asked the fathers for approval to build their own workshops in the stable next to the church. More artisans began to arrive, giving new life to the town.
In every alley of Los Dominicos you’ll find plenty of workshops selling different handcrafted objects, from tiny sculptures made of matches and altarpieces to copper and wood engravings and huge stone monuments. One such workshop is the small cottage of Oscar Plandiura Viera, a decade-long resident of the pueblito. Plandiura displays a wide arrange of his amazing sculptural art, from busts and marble decor to huge stone pillars, fountains and similar works.
While it's easy to get lost here, there's something new to see and try around every corner. In fact, even food is handcrafted here. Try the locale that sells empanadas baked in a mud oven, a traditional recipe that tastes delightful. Gringos will love this one.
You’ll also find a variety of small shops selling various birds, some of them unique Chilean specimens, like the Queltehue. At the center of the district sits a big cage, likely surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. If you can weave through the crowd, you'll find the Royal Peacock, a rare bird found natively in certain parts of the world like Chile. (Admittedly, the bird is nothing too spectacular, but at least you can tell your friends.)
As any district in Santiago’s foothills is certainly not budget-friendly, Los Dominicos is definitely not a cheap place. However, have peace of mind in the fact that whatever you buy here will be worth every penny. Moreover, if you dig around you might find cheap, interesting trinkets to impress your girlfriend or boyfriend.
But please, don’t even think about giving him or her any indio pícaro sculptures (literally "spicy little Indian," a smiling, male Mapuche sculpture made of wood and dressed in indigenous garments. Upon being lifted, the sculpture reveals a huge, erect penis).
Pueblito Los Dominicos
Summer hours, 10:30 am to 8 pm
Winter hours, 10 am to 7 pm