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Named after the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, this city is found in the south of Chile and is capital of the Los Ríos region. Where once Valdivia and Chiloé were the southernmost outliers of the Spanish Empire, today Valdivia is home to history, culture and delicious food and drink. Here’s everything you need to know.
Hop on the Valdivian steam train, which dates back to 1913 and is the only one in Chile that still operates. Journey alongside the Calle River towards Antilhue, sit back and enjoy the scenic route with luscious green surroundings before jumping off at the stops Pishuinco and Huellelhue to shop for souvenirs and taste the local specialities.
Foodies should head to the Valdivia food market and taste the traditional Chilean cuisine as well as the local produce, which includes a wide variety of fresh fish. Despite barely standing the 1960 earthquake, the 1918 building underwent renovation and was reinforced as a shopping and dining complex. Try the Valdiviano, a local meat and vegetable soup, or taste the choritos al ajillo, mussels with garlic and chillies.
Walk into the glorious riverfront mansion here, and you’ll be welcomed by a large gallery with collections from pre-Columbian to the present day – the Mapuche Indian artefacts and household items from early German settlements are extremely interesting. The site is also home to the Contemporary Art Museum, built on the foundations of the former Cervecería Anwandter.
Thanks to German immigrants, Valdivia has a booming beer culture, with Kunstmann Brewery as testament to its popularity. Isla Teja is home to the largest brewery in the south, where visitors can find out more about the history of the noble brew, including when the Germans started to brew, and how popular beer festivals such as Oktoberfest came to be.
Corral Bay in Niebla is home to the remains of a fort used during the Spanish conquest in southern Chile. The on-site museum gives visitors an insight into the happenings of the Spanish conquest, bringing to life a time in history when locals would try to scare away pirates and foreign powers,.
Valdivia’s bustling riverside market was named a Chilean National Monument in 2009, and is brimming with fresh seafood, meat, fruits and vegetables, especially the many varieties of different coloured potatoes. You will also find locally made cheeses, arts and handmade crafts, perfect gifts for friends and family.
The night to celebrate in Valdivia is the third Sunday in February, when the town marks a historic turning point from 1561 as the cruel mandate under Governor García de Mendoza came to an end. Check out the decorated riverboats as fireworks boom and burst overhead, as the people of Valdivia all join together in the streets to celebrate and bid farewell to summer.
Stroll through the tranquil gardens that are home to native Chilean plants, imposing trees, snake-like creepers and blossoming flowers – whatever the time of year, visitors can enjoy beautiful colours while relaxing in the serene gardens.
These turrets and remains of a Spanish fort that was built in 1774 date back to the 17th century. History fanatics will be delighted to hear that there are local guides available to explain the facts in more detail and uncover further historical highlights.
The city of rivers has a certain charm to it and there’s no better way to explore than by boat. You can choose from a selection of trips, from short jaunts that take an hour, to longer excursions that can be up to five hours, either of which are lovely on a nice day. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for sea lions basking on the banks.