Just like every year, the International Day of Monuments and Sites is celebrated on April 18, which aims to promote awareness on heritage diversity and the efforts required for their protection. Here is a tour of some of the one-of-a-kind monuments according to the National Monuments Council: the oldest church in Chile, the world´s highest viaduct at the time, the only lighthouse in the world that illuminates both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, among others.
The Chinchorro mummies, discovered in the Arica and Parinacota Region in northern Chile, are the world’s oldest known mummies to date (6000 to 2000 B.C.). They allow us to observe the highly complex religiousness of their culture. They are in the process of being declared a World Heritage site since 2020, when Culture Minister Consuelo Valdés filed the application on behalf of the archeological site of the Chinchorro Culture. Mortuary practices, with an exhaustive knowledge of their surroundings for mummification, and the social complexity of this group of sedentary hunters and gatherers with a profound sense of time, are some of the key attributes of this culture.
Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill)
Cerro Dragón is an enormous sand dune that is a geographical and urban landmark located in the city of Iquique (Tarapacá Region) in northern Chile. It measures 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long and covers a surface area of 337.53 hectares (834 acres), making it one of the largest urban sand dunes in the world.
The large sand dune that makes up Cerro Dragón stands out because it is situated inside the city limits of Iquique, in an area that is particularly rocky.
Located in the municipality of Huara (Tarapacá Region) in the middle of the Atacama Desert and measuring almost 120 meters (394 ft) tall is the Atacama Giant, the largest anthropomorphic geoglyph figure in the world. It is believed that this figure, together with another 20 found together on Cerro Unita, were the works of different cultures that inhabited the region between the years 1000 and 1400 AD as a way to worship their gods.
Escuela de México murals
A strong earthquake shook the city of Chillan (Ñuble Region) in 1939, leaving close to 10 thousand fatalities and a city buried in rubble. In an act of solidarity, the Mexican government sent muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros and Xavier Guerrero to the city of Chillán on a mission: to capture the history of the two sister nations with murals at the Escuela de México. The mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros, entitled Death to the Invader, is located in the library on the second floor of the school, while the series of smaller-sized murals by artist Xavier Guerrero is located in the foyer.
The Malleco Viaduct in the Araucanía Region stands almost 102 meters (335 ft) tall and was considered, at the time, to be the highest railway bridge in the world. Built between 1886 and 1890, it is one of the most important works of metal engineering in Chile and was constructed as part of the vast state program to extend the rail network promoted by President José Manuel Balmaceda for Chile´s economic future. It is 347.5 meters (1,140 ft) long, separated into five equal intervals of 69.5 meters (228 ft). The bridge rests on two end abutments and four intermediate pillars, all made out of steel.
Saint Francis of Chiu Chiu Church
The Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Chiu Chiu is a Catholic temple in the village called Chiu Chiu, located 30 kms (18.6 miles) east of the city of Calama (Antofagasta Region), at 2,525 meters (8,284 ft) above sea level. According to parochial archives, this church dates back to before 1611, as by then it was already considered as such, making it one of the oldest preserved churches known in Chile.
Patagonian Rupestrian Art
Close to General Carrera Lake (Aysén Region), there are remnants of ancient rock art that make up the so-called “Patagonian-Style Art”, which is the oldest in South America. Its most highly renowned representations are the hands, the guanaco scenes and the fretwork. Due to Patagonia’s cultural isolation, the basic characteristics of this style remained unchanged for millennia. This is demonstrated by the paintings of the Los Toldos rock shelter in Central Patagonia, along the Atlantic coastline, that date back almost 10,000 years.
Punta Dungeness Lighthouse
Located on the northern shore of the Straits of Magellan in the southernmost region in Chile, Punta Dungeness lighthouse stands 25 meters (82 ft) tall and its luminosity reaches 22 nautical miles. It was inaugurated in 1899 as the Straits of Magellan was gaining importance as the sailing route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Punta Dungeness lighthouse is the only lighthouse that guides ships by lighting both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.
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