Valparaíso, The Jewel of the Pacific
Dec-12-2015, copyright : Yann Gohier
There is no place like Valparaíso. It is the second largest city in Chile, the first harbor of the country and the mecca for street artists who love to paint walls with colorful messages and images.
I have been impressed by the quality of what you can read and see on the walls. It’s never too much, it’s often subtl and always powerful. If you have the chance to stay quite a long time in a city, you will see the walls and the paintings changing again and again. This turnover lets you discover a different city every week.
Back to the 19th century, this city was known as the “Jewel of the Pacific” or “the little San Fransisco“, she played an important geopolitical role for shipping industries and migration from Atlantic to Pacific oceans (via the strait of Magellan). She has been known for being an economic crossroad as well as a cultural and a cosmopolitan one. We must remember that the city host the first public library in Chile and the oldest Spanish language newspaper “El Mercurio de Valparaíso“, still published in the country.
Founded in 1544, the first citizens were Picunche and Chango Natives ; the first ones known for their agriculture and the others for being fishing nomades. Nowadays, most of the people lives in the upper town spread out in the 44 hills from the city. The lower town is mostly composed with businesses and shops.
On the above picture ; one funicular. There are 15 in the city. The first one was build in 1883 and worked with steam. Nowadays, they are protected, still working but mostly for tourism purposes.
People waiting for the bus in the lower town
Its unique architecture makes it a very special place where the streets cross and uncross, again and again ; like a labyrinth. You get easily lost along the street-art and the colorful houses but you never feel worried because it gives you the impression to live in a beautiful different world.
Above picture is a view from a street of the “open-air musueum”
Switch off TV – Live your life
Like a dream, you’re fed with all these pictures on the walls. You learn from the history, and get all these philosophical and artistic messages ; like a key to open your mind. It’s known that Valparaíso is a central place for philosophers, intellectuals and artists and you can easily feel it, going inside all those small alternative cafés and bars. Some of them were “clandestino” during the dictatorship ; headquarters for the resistance. Salvador Allende – chilean president (1970 – 1973) before the Putsch – is one of the most charismatic icon for people freedom and because he was born in Valparaíso, you can see his face everywhere, paint on the street walls. Ironically, Augusto Pinochet (chilean dictator) was also born here…
Street painting representing Salvador Allende and the resistance against the oppression
Outdoor café, upper town
“under the asphalt remain unborn flowers”
Since Panama Canal was created and used for the first time in 1914, Valparaíso declined and was abandoned in a way that it starts to fade away. Happily, Valparaíso managed to survive and diversified its economy (with tourism for instance). The Historic Quarter of the Seaport of the city is part of UNESCO World HeritageSite since 2003 ; it is a place to see, at least, once in your life !
View of Valparaíso’s harbor and hundreds of shipping containers
Is there a better way to conclude with Valparaíso, using Pablo Neruda‘s poetry ? (Nobel Prize in Literature (1971), poet-diplomat and politician)
Excerpts from Oda a Valparaíso – Pablo Neruda
porque en tu pecho austral
y la alegría
las olas de la tierra.
tiempo de vestirte,
te despertó la muerte,
en largos calzoncillos
con flecos de colores,
More pictures :
Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of ValparaÃso – Chilehttps://www.gounesco.com/heritage/proof/valparaiso-jewel-of-pacific/https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/31180120/tournesol-retouche-1024x768.jpghttps://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/31180120/tournesol-retouche-150x150.jpgUncategorizedChile,Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of ValparaÃso,south america,travel,unesco,Valparaíso,world heritage travel,yann gohier