Most interesting places to visit in Punta Arenas (part I)
Many tourists who visit the Hotel Las Torres, first arrive to Punta Arenas, the capital and largest city of the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica.
The area has many touristic attraction and natural magnificence for all kinds of people, from the adventurous to the whole families.
The first part of this article describes museums, historical buildings, cultural and entertainment activities.
First of all, the city is one of the three largest in Patagonia. It is more than 3,000 km from Santiago de Chile and this location makes that during the winter you can expect here around 0ºC, heavy snowfall and blizzards, which can sometimes reach 150 km/h. In summer, the temperatures are higher and reach even 20ºC.
But without a doubt one of the places that has become known in recent times is Zona Franca, a shopping center visited daily by 15 000 people ( locals, tourists and even Argentinians from surrounding towns), where if you purchase up to $ 1,200, it will be free from taxes. It’s ideal for finding products, as we say in Chile, that are good, nice and cheap.
Architecture of Punta Arenas emphasizes European influence, mainly due to the passage of ships through the Strait of Magellan as the point of arrival of the Croats, people of great influence on our country.
The constructions are ideal to see during family outings or for knowing the culture and history of Punta Arenas. It is worth a mention:
- The Cathedral, wood construction, built by the Salesians in 1892 and reconstructed in nearly a decade, after falling to ruin. It was the first building to use bricks. It is located next to the Plaza de Armas.
- The mansion of Sara Braun and the palace Braun Meléndez are samples of height that experienced the region in the late nineteenth century, thanks to the sheep farming. Currently, the mansion of Sara Braun is a hotel, while the palace Braun Meléndez was donated to the State and became the Regional Museum Regional of Magallanes. Both were declared National Monuments. The buildings are near the main square of the city.
- Municipal Cemetery, in northeast of the city, with a high level of maintenance of parks and grandeur of the mausoleums of the most important families in the region, decorated with marble and bronze. Specially recommended it is the tomb of Unknown Indian and the pantheon of Jose Melendez, scale replica of the monument to Victor Emmanuel in Italy. It is located at north of the city and it is advisable to visit it early to avoid crowds.
- Statues like for example Croatian Immigrant Monument (on Avenida Bulnes), Shepherd (between the cemetery and the Equestrian Club), Ferdinand Magellan (in the Plaza de Armas), St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians.
- One of the most outstanding sites for their historical contribution is the Fuerte Bulnes, created by the Chilean state in 1843 whit the beginning of colonization of Patagonia. The story says that the building of wood and straw established sovereignty over the strategic Strait of Magellan just 24 hours before did it the French. It is located 55.1 km. south of the city, along Route 9, and requires no experience to follow it. It is important to carry provisions, and there are not many places to shop.
Great alternative, if you look for entertainment at night, is the casino that was opened in the coastal area in 2009. It has a conference center and botanical garden.
It also highlights the Winter Carnival of Punta Arenas, which begins with the winter solstice festival and offers shows of floats, the choice of queen, a folk festival, sports activities, book fairs, exhibition of films, concerts and others. The Invernadas, as they are known, attract tourists from neighboring areas in the Chilean Patagonia and Argentina.
The next part of the article will present the natural attractions around the city, possibilities to practice extreme sports, ideal for travel enthusiasts and adventurers.