Chile is a country of diverse geography, culture and people, and it is now home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, recognized for their historical, natural and cultural importance. We invite you to take a tour of these incredible places.
1.- Andean Road System: Qhapaq Ñan
Named a World Heritage Site in 2014, this ancient route was part of a system of roads during the Inca civilization, passing through six countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. It has four tracts in our country: one in Arica, two in Antofagasta and one in Atacama.
This trail is living proof of the Inca culture, and evidence from that era found along its route show that it was used for trade.
Come and get to know this ancient place that forms part of a global culture. Immersed in an arid circuit with vegetation typical of the area, it will captivate you with its historical presence.
2.- Sewell Mining Town
To the east of the city of Rancagua, situated between ravines in the Andean foothills and covered in snow in winter, you can find “the city of stairs”. Founded in 1905 to house workers from El Teniente, it was the world’s largest underground copper mine at the time.
Today, it is a picturesque and colorful mountain town. Sewell is structured around a central stairway that rises from the central station. The whole town sits on a steep hillside, which made it necessary to build stairs and is how the town got its name. It is a must-see when visiting Chile, as you will find no other place like it, and it is one of the country’s most emblematic settlements.
3.- Rapa Nui National Park
Around 300 A.D. a Polynesian community created magnificent and imposing sculptures known as Moai on the planet’s most remote island: Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. The island’s charms are endless: pink sand beaches, volcanoes, meadows to cross on foot or horseback, caverns to explore, and one of the best places to scuba dive in Chile.
Do you need any more reasons to visit? This is without doubt one of Chile’s best destinations, with a special mystique that you won’t find anywhere else.
This picturesque port is brimming with architecture typical of the late nineteenth century and the Spanish colonial era. Valparaíso owes much of its popularity to this architectural blend. Between slopes and stairs, this historical city sits on Cerro Alegre, and with streets that offer panoramic sea views, Valparaíso is an extremely pleasant place to wander around.
This “amphitheatre” that looks out onto the Pacific contains a large number of buildings representing remarkable architecture, among them the Matriz Church, the Turri Clock, El Mercurio Building and the Museo de Bellas Artes.
5.- Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
In 1880, thousands of saltpeter workers lived in this historical area of Pampa del Tamarugal, where they forged their own unique identity. Here, we can appreciate the vestiges of a time of wealth for the area and learn about the country’s history.
Some iconic places that can’t be missed are the general store, the theater and the church, all of which impress due to their strong historical legacy. The Works have three circuits for visitors: the first takes you on a tour of the town’s infrastructure and helps you understand how people lived in the camp; the second demonstrates the machinery of the time and the technology that was used to produce saltpeter; and the third explains about the saltpeter extraction process. All three offer a complete tour so that you don’t miss out on anything of the experience.
6.- Churches of Chiloé
Chiloé is home to 16 churches that were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. All of them share a similar, rustic, countryside architecture, lending a special touch to the place in which they are found.
They are all immersed in impressive natural landscapes made up of woodland, meadows and coastlines, giving each one its own unique charm.
7.- Settlement of the Chinchorro Culture
Known as marine hunter-gatherers who settled and lived on the Atacama Desert coastline, the Chinchorro culture inhabited Chile’s northern coastal area more than 7,000 years ago. The settlements they left behind became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021.
One of this culture’s most striking elements is the way in which they buried their dead, using a mummification method that is older than that of Egypt. Evidence indicates that they perfected complex mortuary practices over time to create “artificial” mummies that possessed material, sculptural and aesthetic qualities, which presumably reflected the fundamental role of the dead in their society.
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