Founded in 1541, Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times. The city has a downtown core of 19th century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Mountains of the Andes chain can be seen from most points in the city. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards, and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Santiago's steady economic growth over the past few decades has transformed it into a modern metropolis.
What to See and Do
Only a few historical buildings from the Spanish colonial period remain in the city. In the center of Santiago are several buildings built during the Spanish domination and that mostly correspond to, as the Metropolitan Cathedral begun in 1748 and ended in 1800 and the Church of San Francisco (1586). Other buildings of the period are those located on the sides of Plaza de Armas, established as the city square in 1541. These include the former seat of government, the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago built between 1804 and 1807, and the Casa Colorada (1769).
Most of the museums are located in the historic city center, occupying the old buildings of colonial origin, such as the National History Museum, located in the Palacio de la Real Audiencia. La Casa Colorada houses the Museum of Santiago, while the Colonial Museum is housed in a wing of the Church of San Francisco. The Museum of Fine Arts, though it is located in the city center, was built in the early twentieth century, and the Museum of Contemporary Art established in 1947.
The Quinta Normal Park, was founded in 1841 for greenhouses to cultivate foreign plant species. The park is now 35.5 hectares (88 acres). The park has a new water feature that include paddle boats. There are also several museums, Artequin Museum an interactive and educational art museum, the Museum of Science and Technology and the train museum, Museo Ferroviario.
There is an extensive network of bicycle trails in the city, especially in the Providencia comuna. The longest section is the Americo Vespuccio road, which contains a very wide dirt path with many trees through the center of a street used by motorists on both sides. The next longest path is along the Mapocho River along avenida Andrés Bello.
Santiago has a quite dry, warm-summer Mediterranean climate: warm dry summers (November to March) with temperatures reaching up to 35 °C (95 °F) on the hottest days; winters (June to August) are more humid with cold mornings; typical maximum daily temperatures of 13 °C (55 °F), and minimums of a few degrees above freezing.
Air: Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) is Santiago's national and international airport and the principal hub of LAN Airlines, Sky Airline, One Airlines, Aerocardal and PAL Airlines. It is located 15 km from the city center.
Subway: With 100 stations currently in operation and 19 other planned or under construction, the Santiago Metro is South America's most extensive metro system.
Bus: Transantiago is the name for the city's public transport system. Note: It includes an integrated fare system, fares cannot be paid in cash, and if the card does not have enough credit, it must be recharged before a trip.