Tag Archives: La Moneda

Día del Patrimonio Cultural: Chilean Cultural Heritage Day

For information about the 2010 version, see: Día del Patrimonio Nacional 2010

Have you ever noticed that it seems like you always hear about cool events AFTER they’ve taken place? Well, here’s a heads up. This Sunday, May 31, 2009,  is Chile’s Cultural Heritage Day and no matter where you are in the country, there will be plenty of cultural activities to whet your appetite.

Fiesta del Día del Patrimonio:

Fiesta del Día del Patrimonio: http://www.diadelpatrimonio.cl. Be sure to check "National Monuments" and "Buildings to Visit"

Ten years ago, Chile declared the last Sunday in May to be the “Día del Patrimonio Cultural,”  a day set aside to celebrate and stimulate pride in Chilean culture. It is particularly geared toward architecture and a highlight of the day is the opportunity to visit a number of public and private buildings that are normally closed to the general public. The event has proven extremely successful and has expanded considerably each year. This year Santiago opens the doors to 110 buildings and has organized a multitude of activities in its museums, libraries, and cultural centers. Cities around the country are doing likewise.

This year’s theme is “The Fiesta del Patrimonio” and celebrates the concept of fiesta in different moments of time and cultural expression throughout Chile’s nearly 500 years of history.

I strongly suggest taking a look at the Día del Patrimonio Cultural (Cultural Heritage Day) web site and check out what’s doing around the country. If you click on “Programación nacional” you can find activities in each of the country’s 15 regions and then download an excel file with activities in your area.

To avoid making you go through a long series of clicking here, clicking there, just go straight to this link:  La Fiesta del Patrimonio: Guía de Recorridos (Cultural Heritage Festival: Guide to Tours)to download a pamflet in pdf format that lists the different buildings that will be open to the public on Sunday.  Choose a couple of options and go out and explore! This is your opportunity to get into those old mansions and the back rooms of government buildings you’ve always wondered about. There will also be plenty of music, food, games, and fun for the whole family.

Check it out and come back to report in on Monday!

I just found this great link: Cultura Mapocho which gives more information in Spanish about some of the tours available.

Other sources of cultural pride for Chile are its 5 Unesco World Heritage Sites.

World Heritage Sites  in Chile:

Easter Island: Rapa Nui National Park: Chile’s 1st World Heritage Site, named in 1995

Churches of Chiloé:  16 characteristic wooden churches were added to the WH list in 2001

Valparaíso (historic quarter): 2003

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Nitrate Mines) (2005)

Sewell Mining Town: (2006) Chile’s first copper mining camp


Santiago Cabbie Stories 1

I talk to taxi cab drivers (cabbies). I know there are other foreigners who dislike being singled out, who hate that “where are you from?” question that we always—always—get. But I really don’t mind. If I’m not in the mood to talk, I just say “Estados Unidos” and go back to whatever zoned out, tuned out pre-question place I was in … but usually I go for it… it’s an opportunity to get a tiny bit of insight into the life of someone I am not likely to cross paths with ever again. We’re a mutually captive audience for 10 or 15 minutes and I really like to hear their stories… and sometimes they want to hear mine.

Today my driver was a  nice grandfatherly type gent who proudly announced that he’d been working for 60 years. “Yep,” he said, in what I’m sure is a story he’s told a thousand times, “I started working when I was 10. I’m 70 now, and still going strong.” I urged him on as we zipped along through the public transportation fast lane in full-on rush hour. “I’ve been married for 44 years, and never an argument.”

“Aw, c’mon!” I tell him, “Everybody argues once in a while!” “Not once,” he insisted. “We didn’t own a thing when we got married, not even a plate, just the bed I slept on. She was 6 months pregnant, and we pulled together and did alright. Raised 4 kids and 12 grand children,” (while I’m thinking that this gentleman’s gentle wife probably would not be at all happy about him telling every gringa that comes along that she “had to get married” all those years ago…)

“I was a carabinero for 34 years,” he announced as we whizzed past the presidential palace. “I was right there inside La Moneda on September 11. It was really something.”

“I bet!” And I dared ask the question that we all learn quickly not to ask. “Were you an Allende supporter?” “Me? No, we were neutral!” Hmmm; a guarded answer if ever I heard one. I baited: “A friend of mine said that if it hadn’t been for the golpe, Allende would have simply been remembered as the worst President in Chilean history…”

I was fully aware that “golpe” is a very loaded word, and you can often spot a Pinochet supporter by their reaction. They call it the “pronunciamiento militar.” I wanted to see where he would go. He chuckled. “Yeah, he’s got a statue and everything.”

“A statue?” I’m really wondering where this is going…

“Here in Chile, everyone who screws up gets a statue!” Ah! Here we go! True colors! Not in any defensive or offensive kind of way. Just expressing his honest opinion to someone who genuinely wanted to know it.

“Do you know about President Balmaceda and the Revolution of 1891? 11,000 men died—11,000! And then he committed suicide—so what happens? He gets a statue… right there next to the obelisk in Plaza Italia (a key spot in the city).

He was just getting warmed up, and just as he gets to the part where he says, “yes indeed, it was once de septiembre that turned this country around, alright,” we came to my stop. Even so, I couldn’t help but notice that he was careful not to say it was Pinochet, but rather the events of the golpe that were responsible for the change.

Hmmm… whether or not he was truly “neutral” this particular carabinero was at least pretty diplomatic!