Today, we went to the Chilean capital of Santiago.
We began our day by visiting the church of Iglesia San Francisco, which is the oldest church in Santiago. In 1622, the church was declared holy. During an earthquake in 1647, the bell tower was destroyed, but the rest of the church resisted.Then, again in 1730, the bell tower was destroyed, but then demolished in 1751 because it had already collapsed twice. The version that stands now was built in the 1800s, and it has a distinctive clock unlike the other older models. We walked inside, and found the church to be very simple on the inside. Unlike many churches in Russia or Spain that have lots of gold and stained glass on the inside, this church was built out of cobblestone, and had very little gold, or bright parts. We also learned that there is a monastery that is connected to the church. On the inside, there are many cracks in the stone from the earthquakes. The Iglesia San Francisco church was a beautiful and simple church.
Our next stop was the La Moneda Palace which is the seat of the President of Chile. The palace also houses the three cabinet members. The palace was built in 1784 and was opened in 1805, although it was still under construction. From 1814 to 1929, Chilean coins were produced in the palace. In 1930 a public square called Constitution Square was built right in front of the palace. During the military coup d’état, on September 11, 1973, the Chilean Air Force bombed the palace while the president was inside. The president would not surrender while in charge of his country, so he committed suicide and shot himself. After the president died, General Pinoche took over and began a very militaristic government. The United States helped get Pinoche into power, but then Pinoche turned evil, and began to torture people and didn’t allow political freedom.
On our way over the palace, we passed the spot where the torture centers were. Pinochet, tortured and killed hundreds of people while in power. All the restoration projects on the palace were finished on March 11, 1981. Purposely, some bullet marks are kept to show how the palace looked. During the restorations, there was an underground complex (the so-called bunker) under Constitution Square to provide an escape for the president in case of an attack. We walked into Constitution Square, and saw the large palace across from us. The palace was large, but it was dwarfed next to the huge apartment and office buildings around it. We walked up to the front, and could see some spots where bullet marks were from the coup d’état in 1973. We weren’t able to go in, because it is the Chilean White House pretty much. We walked around the side, and came to a spot where there were two guards in very beautiful uniforms. We learned that these really cool uniforms were the summer outfits for the guards, so all the guards wear these in the summer. The La Moneda Palace was a very beautiful palace that we enjoyed looking at.
Our final destination in Santiago today was a museum called: Museum of Pre-Colombia Art. This is a museum that is full of native tribal art. The museum is in one of the oldest buildings in all of Santiago, but the building has been restored beautifully to look modern. We walked up a flight of stairs and came to a big 3D map of North, Latin and South America, showing where the tribes lived, and their migrational patterns. Since the map was so huge, it stretched out through multiple walls, the roof and a bit of the floor!We walked through the map room, then went into the first room with native art. There were many sculptures and statues of all different shapes and colors. In the building, there were many large glass windows that let in lots of light because of all the light flowing in, the sculptures were brightly illuminated. We walked through many more rooms with beautiful art inside. The final exhibit that we visited was underground, called Chile Before Chile. This room was full of large statues and big carpets and pieces of clothing. The room was very dim except for an area above a couple large statues that was letting light from above ground pour into this room. The Museum of Pre-Colombian Art was a very interesting museum.