Santiago’s art scene
Home to both the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts) and the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Chilean Museum of pre-Columbian Art), Santiago boasts some of the finest contemporary and historic art galleries in South America.
While Argentines have the tango, Chileans have the cueca. The national dance is often performed in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, as well as during the national holiday fiestas patrias celebrations on September 17-18.
Both the regular earthquakes and the potent alcoholic drink of the same name make Chile unique! Don’t fear, all the buildings and infrastructure are well-built due to the sometimes frequent wobbles from the ground. The drink, meanwhile, is enjoyed in popular dive bars and on the National Holidays – it’s so-called as if mixed correctly, you can’t feel your legs after a few. Made with wine, pineapple ice cream, grenadine syrup and sometimes topped up with fernet, vodka or rum, it would be an insult not to try it.
These free, open-air galleries are a real treat, offering quite the contrast to the more traditional art spaces. A splash of colour really spices up the neighbourhoods – try wandering the streets of Bellavista and Barrio Brasil in Santiago and Cerro Alegre and Concepción in Valparaíso in search of your favourite artwork.
The land of poets
Chile is known as the pais de poetas, thanks to the surrealist works of Chile’s beloved poet Pablo Neruda and the magnificent lyrical poetry of Gabriela Mistral, who became the first Latin American author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945. The Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) is a cultural centre in the heart of Santiago that has been named after her.
Traditional Chilean cuisine is known to be rather hearty, dishes such as pastel del choclo (similar to shepherd’s pie but with corn mash), pastel de jaiba (crab pie), curanto (a meat, fish and vegetables dish) and charquicán (beef and vegetable stew) which will warm you up on a cold day. With local seafood, such as razor clams, locos, giant barnacles and much more, everywhere from local markets through to famed restaurants has their own delicious offerings.