Spotlight Barrio Yungay: Santiago’s Vibrant Neighborhood on the Rise

Serie de fotografías urbanas: amanecer en barrio Yungay © Carlos Reusser Monsalvez
Serie de fotografías urbanas: amanecer en barrio Yungay © Carlos Reusser Monsalvez
Photo of Elizabeth Trovall
23 March 2017

Brightly colored historic houses and the prevalence of eccentric street art give Barrio Yungay a distinctly bohemian and festive feel in Chile’s metropolitan capital. Thanks to its growing restaurant and bar scene along with numerous nearby museums and monuments, this vibrant neighborhood has risen to the top of Santiago’s leading tourist destinations.

Barrio Yungay is among Santiago’s most historic and traditional neighborhoods, one of the city’s first residential areas built after the construction of the city center, Santiago Centro. Developed in the 19th century, the neighborhood gets its name from the Chilean victory in the Battle of Yungay, when Chilean-Peruvian forces battled and put an end to the Peru–Bolivian Confederation in 1839. Then in the 1940s, upper class families that lived in the area started to move eastward, abandoning these historic structures and opting for more modern residences. Unlike other historic Santiago neighborhoods with a similar story, many of Barrio Yungay’s structures have largely remained intact, after receiving protection from Chile’s Council of National Monuments. Take a peek at what this historic neighborhood has to offer with a quick ride on the metro. Take the Línea 5 (the green line) to the Quinta Normal stop and explore this unique Santiago barrio.

Barrio Yungay | © ( A day in the life )

What to see

No trip to Barrio Yungay is complete without a leisurely look at Santiago’s oldest park, Parque Quinta Normal, founded in 1841. Enjoy this park’s shady trees, fountains and lagoon, where you can take a ride on old-fashioned paddle boats. The park is also home to several old-fashioned buildings and museums, including the National Museum of Natural History and the Children’s Museum.

Barrio Yungay’s colorful street art is part of what makes the neighborhood so unique. The best way to ensure a comprehensive look at the local graffiti is through a Barrio Yungay bicycle tour. The up-and-coming tour company Bicitur takes tourists along for a cycle ride to see Barrio Yungay’s best street art, offering the cultural, historic and political context of the art throughout the tour.

Serie de fotografías urbanas | © Carlos Reusser Monsalvez

What to do

Go to a concert or check out the artwork at Matucana 100, Barrio Yungay’s railcar repair station turned cultural space. Matucana 100 hosts workshops, concerts, festivals, and theater performances, and regularly features contemporary art and photography exhibitions. Check out their events page online and plan your visit accordingly.

Learn about Chile’s dark past at the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos. This human rights museum is dedicated to telling the true and horrific story of Chile’s 17-year dictatorship, which ended in 1990. English-language audio tours of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights are also available and can be purchased at the museum entrance.

Where to eat

Step back in time at the gorgeous Boulevard Lavaud Restaurant and the adjoined Peluqueria Francesa, an old-fashioned French barbershop. Decorated with antique furniture, mirrors and paintings, the restaurant offers an elegant and historic ambiance, true to the Barrio Yungay style. The Boulevard Lavaud Restaurant is ideal for a chic evening dinner or afternoon cheese plate. On your way in or out, peek into the Peluqueria. Or if you need a cut, this 1868 establishment still offers limited services.

The best sandwich shop in Barrio Yungay, Fuente Mardoqueo is an absolute must for meat lovers. Serving up sizeable beef and pork sandwiches for nearly three decades, this fixture of the Barrio Yungay neighborhood is quite the savory experience. On top of their delicious sandwiches, this unique eatery offers a stylish and eccentric ambiance, with curious antiques attached to the walls.

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