Ruevalparaiso: A visit in Valparaiso Pleasant hill (Cerro Alegre)

Ruevalparaiso

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A visit in Valparaiso Pleasant hill (Cerro Alegre)

For tourists with limited time in Valparaiso, the Pleasant Hill and Concepcion National Historic Districts constitute one of the most stunning and breathtaking cultural heritage sites in the world. The neighborhoods are well preserved and tourist friendly.
How to Get Here: By car you can follow the main routes into downtown Valparaiso, leaving your car in the underground parking below the Plaza Sotomayor. By bus or trolley, board any vehicle marked “Aduana” and get off at the Plaza Sotomayor, walking 100 meters to the El Peral Funicular in the Justice Square.
Tourist Infrastructure: Plenty. In Pleasant Hill, the Colombina is one of Valparaiso’s finest hillside restaurants with a lovely terrace and a fine wine list. In Concepcion Hill, the Café Turri is well known and the Brighton Bed & Breakfast has one of the most spectacular hanging terraces in the city-ideal for meals, snacks, coffee, wine or a refreshing pisco sour. In general, any of the major restaurants will allow tourists to use the bathrooms as long as they don’t abuse the privilege. There are now several smaller cafes and restaurants, several of which may be worth stopping in to. On weekends, the French lunch at Le Filou de Montpellier (cf Photo) is one of the best bargains in all of Valparaiso. As for lodging, the Brighton is the best known, but you will also find a plethora of B & Bs and charming family—owned apartments for rent. The Tomas Somerscales Hotel is due to open in 2004.
The Justice Square
The section begins in Justice Square several feet away from the Plaza Sotomayor. If this is the only section of the trail you will walk, you may want to detain yourself for a few minutes in Sotomayor Square, the most important civic square in Valparaiso.
The Peral Funicular
Past the stately Interoceanica Building, you will find an opening that accesses the Peral Funicular, gateway to the Pleasant Hill National Historic District. Built in 1902, the upper station house was recently rebuilt and inaugurated in 2000. As the principal entry point into the Pleasant Hill (Cerro Alegre) National Historic District. This is one of the busiest elevators in Valparaiso. At the top, you enter the Yugoslavian Promenade. This is one of Valparaiso’s five most characteristic promenades, offering a spectacular view of the port, banking district, and neighboring hillsides. The dominating feature of this park is the outstanding, Baburriza Palace, now the city’s fine arts museum.
Pascual Baburriza was a Croatian immigrant who arrived in Chile to sell fish in the nitrate fields of Northern Chile. A classic entrepreneur, he expanded his enterprise, ultimately controling thirty percent of the world’s nitrate market, later diversifying into railroads. Luckily, Baburriza sold his nitrate stock to the American multinational Guggenheim Brothers just before the industry fell out during World War I. Baburriza’s fortune was unscathed. Baburriza had two principal properties in this region: his Valparaiso palace and his summer estate twenty minutes to the interior. The latter has since been restored and donated as Chile’s national botanical
gardens, worth a visit in its own right.
Plazoleta Joaquín Edwards Bello
Although many consider the park next to the promenade to be an extension of the esplanade, it is actually called the Plaza Joaquín Edwards Bello, named after a beloved writers who immortalized Valparaiso in texts such as Valparaiso, the Windy City and The Old Almond Grove. Next to the plaza you’ll find the fine Colombina Restaurant, actually situated in the
old servant’s headquarters of the Baburriza Estate. The stairway off to the left is called Apollo Passage, and features several attractive buildings.
Gervasoni Promenade and Café Turri
In addition to a romantic air and breathtaking views, the Gervasoni Promenade has four principal attractions, The Fundación Lukas, a house that was the first Danish Consulate in Latin America, the Concepción Funicular, and the Café Turri. The Lukas Foundation is dedicated to Renzo Pecchenino, a beloved Italian immigrant who served for years as the caricature artist for El Mercurio newspaper. Known professionally as Lukas, Pecchenino was a brilliant artist who dedicated his life to drawing Valparaiso as it must have appeared during different periods of the city’s 480—year history. His excellent technique, poignant sense of humor, gregarious charm,
and eccentric personality has led Chileans to identify Lukas as a genius of almost Neruda-like stature.
Atkinson Promenade
.The Atkinson Promenade is named after Juan Atkinson, a ship builder who built the homes here. By 1886, all of the homes were occupied and the neighborhood gained fame as an excellent place for an afternoon stroll. The great poet Rubén Darío, rumored to have rented the last
house on the street, described the place in his book Album of the Port. The houses were occupied by German and British families, including the Eltons, the Boyes, and one of the city’s finest arquitects, Alfred Vargas, who built the Valparaiso Theater and Couve Gallery in Viña del Mar. The houses on Atkinson Street have not changed much, though the horrendous Student Solidarity Bank Building, built in the late 60’s, stole away much of the ocean view that made the
promenade famous.
Paseo Atkinson
In this section, the route also crosses the Music School of the Catholic University of Valparaiso, and the Pierre Loti Passage, named after the French novelist who spent time in Valparaiso. At the corner of Urriola Street, we find a small soda fountain called “Le Filou de Montpellier.” Opened by a young immigrant from France, this tiny restaurant is famous for its inexpensive French lunches offered exclusively on weekends.
Dimalow Promenade
We enter the almost imperceptible Dimalow Promenade across from the bakery and Le Filou de Montpellier. Like many of Valparaiso’s promenades, the stroll initiates with a series of attractive homes overlooking the ocean. Nonetheless, as we approach the midway point of the esplanade, we begin to note that something about this street is different. At the end of the alley, we find ourselves in one of the most spectacular vantage points imaginable. Standing in front of the Queen Victoria Funicular, the promontory of Concepción Hill, with the spectacular steeple of the Lutheran church, is exposed to view. Take a deep breath and enjoy this outstanding photo opportunity.
Photo : Le Filou de Montpellier

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