Hoist the colours

Chile is the perfect destination for a seaside getaway filled with both colour and history, inspiring artists of all fields.

Photo courtesy Chile Travel


Kate Veteri

Destination: Chile

Chile is home to an abundance of nature from colossal hillsides to roaring rivers. Seated harmoniously alongside the everlasting natural phenomena are the lights of highly-populated metropolitan areas. Travel along the colourful seaside of Chile’s best ocean-view cities, immersing yourself in the natural and man-made designs that have inspired numerous poets, painters and writers from all over the world.

Long inspiring artists of all fields, the city of Valparaíso is one of remarkable colour and history. Exploring Chile’s second-largest metropolitan region, be enlightened by all the inspiration on offer, from rolling hills to art galleries and breath-taking buildings. Narrow streets lined with the brightly-coloured houses show an abundance of varying architectural stylings. Taking a sustainable approach to building, the vibrant façades have come about through the use of shipping container metal. The reuse of colourful shipping containers has created an eye-catching streetscape. The city of Valparaíso provides rides on several funicular lines both up and down the hills, providing the ideal mode of transportation to admire the sloping geography and houses seated on 45 different hills. Let this unusual transportation carry you down the streets and to the waterfront of the world heritage city.

Known as the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’, this Chilean city has long been a seaport, serving as a major stopover for ships travelling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This has created an ever-changing population with the comings and goings of sailors and dockworkers. Today the seaside gem is all that it was while incorporating a modern twist of eccentric celebration. During the day sit and bask in the sun. Bear witness to the day’s activities, a demonstration of the ongoing historical uses that are still applied today from a stopover for ships to fishing. Watch the sun setting over the water, look up and see the Valparaíso ocean-front become illuminated in New Year’s fireworks following the week-long carnival. The colour of the sky matching the colours of the houses introduces new and creative uses for the ocean-front, allowing for city-wide celebration.

The city of Valparaíso is one of remarkable colour and history
Photo courtesy Chile Travel
Sewell mining town
Sewell Mining Town
Photo courtesy Chile Travel

Colour, continuing its theme in Valparaíso, is also on show throughout the streets – offering some of the best street art in Latin America. Head to Templeman street of Cerro Alegre and admire the vast array of street art on offer. Alternatively, get lost in amongst the graffiti and murals in Bellavista’s open air museum. Opened in 1992, the museum showcases a collection of 20 murals painted along the street walls, sides of houses and stairways. Chilean and Latin American artists were commissioned to decorate the walls, with each mural signed by the creator. Spend time admiring each painting on the outside of buildings before visiting the famous museum of Pablo Neruda – an artist of a different kind.

Heading south of Valparaíso make a stop at the coastal area, Isla Negra or Black Island in English. Putting this seascape on the map, the area is best known as the residence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Feeling colourful passion for both poetry and this coastal town, the Nobel Prize winner’s legacy lives on in the attraction other artists and visitors have to the town.

Writing poems of love, visit the poet's place of work at his home, now a museum. Built right by the shore by Pablo himself, the house is filled with varying objects collected over his years. Walk through the rest of the town to examine the mixed architecture. Varying from 1960s hippy-styled homes to the more contemporary stylings of modern architecture, with each house offering something inspiring.

Mixing the old with the new, the city of Antofagasta has one-way streets lined with old-fashioned plazas sitting alongside high-rise concrete buildings. Contrasting both the old and new building, visit Chile’s ghost towns for dishevelled buildings.

Antofagasta has inspired storytelling of its own kind through its rich history. During the 19th century War of the Pacific, Bolivia, Peru and Chile were at war over claims of territory containing sodium nitrate. Known otherwise as ‘white gold’ or ‘Chile saltpeter’, sodium nitrate is used in the production of fertilisers and explosives. The valuable substance led to the war between the nations. Chile arose as the victor, gaining much of the disputed land. The territory became widely populated and hundreds of buildings were constructed to allow for mining of the substance. In 1909 two German scientists discovered the ability to chemically engineer nitrogen, allowing for industrial production of sodium nitrate. By 1960 the previously heavily-populated towns had been abandoned. Today you can tour the ghost towns and hear the stories they inspired.

Much like that of Valparaíso, the port of Antofagasta has a long and colourful history. Bolivia lost the port and surrounding region to Chile during the War of the Pacific, however, it is still used as a major import-export node for the country. Today the port handles shipments of minerals and copper from Atacama and Chuquicamata.

Play the day away at the family- and sport-friendly beaches. Crisp white sand sits peacefully against the calm waters. However, don’t let the calm waters fool you, there are still waves for you to enjoy surfing or bodyboarding. Antofagasta provides colour day and night with clear night skies glowing under the shine of the stars. Heading east, the Atacama Desert offers the best astronomical observatories in Chile, perfect for looking towards the heavens and taking in the natural light of the stars.

Streetscapes lined with eye-catching buildings seated beside blue ocean views allows for an inspiring getaway. The colours of Chile have attracted the attention of artists from all over the world and are likely to attract your attention too.

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