Santiago On the Road

Santiago, Chile
When it was first found by Spanish conquerors, Santiago was little more than the triangular patch of land between two arms of the Río Mapocho. Today this area is simply Santiago Centro, one of thirty-two districts that constitute present-day Santiago.

From Patronato, a northern part of downtown with Moorish-style mansions of wealthly families, to Providencia, a district of modern skyscrapers built by international corporations, to Las Condes, an area of chic shopping centers, to Bellavista, the site of a great outdoor market, there's no shortage of diversity in this city.

Perhaps the neighborhoods have retained their individuality because many have histories as old as Santiago itself. As the capital grew, many small communities were absorbed into the city limits. Nowadays, you're likely to hear someone from Santiago mention the name of their neighborhood over the name of their city when telling you where they live.

With its broad avenues and majestic buildings, such as the Congreso Nacional and the Teatro Municipal, the city holds up to its status as a national capital. There is also great natural beauty in the parks, such as Parque Quinta Normal, Parque O'Higgins and Parque Forestal.

Home to nearly a third of Chile's total population, Santiago is continuing to grow, both horizontally and vertically. New skyscrapers and towers are rapidly transforming the city's skyline.

But despite its size and growth, there is an air of familiarity to the city. The warmth of the Chilean people remains in the urban metropolis and can be sensed in the streets and bustling plazas.