Chile: The Palace and a bit of African culture


After the cemetery we headed downtown to the Palacio de la Moneda.  The neoclassical style building was designed by Italian architect Joaquin Toesca and originally built to house the mint  (moneda = currency/coin).   Construction began in 1784 and the mint opened in 1805.  In 1846 the building became the national headquarters of the government and residence of the president.

We weren’t aware of it but you can tour the building.  You have to book it at least 10 days in advance and if I ever make it back to Santiago I’ll definitely do that.

There is a changing of the guard ceremony at 10am on odd-numbered days.  (I wonder if the dog takes part).   


The north facade of the palace was badly damaged on September 11, 1973 when the Chilean Air Force dropped missiles on it at the request of the army during the military coup, when President Salvador Allende refused to leave.   The palace was restored between 1973-1980 and completed by March 1981  – though it is said that some bullet marks have been preserved!  It is also said that a “bunker”  was built under the front square to provide an escape for then-President General Pinochet.

In the square now is a statue of Allende: IMG_6133a

To celebrate the bicentenary of Chile’s independence, a new public square called the Plaza de la Ciudadania was constructed on the south side of the palace.  The plaza was inaugurated in December 2005.  It was designed by Undurraga Deves Arquitectos and paths lead down from the plaza to the underground Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center which opened in 2006 in the Palace’s basement.    This is a huge art space with exhibition halls,  a media library and a cinema as well as some shops & a cafe.   We saw an exhibit of  African figures and masks.   The program was written in Spanish but most of the curator notes beside the exhibits had an English translation. The exhibition was split into 2 sections;  one showing art as power and the other showing artistic representations of the human figure as it reflects society and behaviour.  There were 180 pieces covering 4 centuries on display but no photos were allowed.  It was a bit strange to go to Chile & see an African exhibition but it was a great venue and we both thought the exhibition was really good.




10 responses

  1. Hi! Long time no see!! I took a break from blogging, but I’m back now and started too new blogs this week. I know. I’m a glutton for punishment. I wanted a place to write down my thoughts about the genealogy research I am doing, and I wanted a place just for photographs.

    Did you go to Chili for vacation, or was it work-related? I’ve never been there, but our elderly neighbor was born in Chili over 90 years ago. Her father was Chili’s ambassador to France, so she had a charmed childhood. But she tells us about all the palaces, etc.

    She came to American to go to college. I think she only went back home once, even though she could have afforded to go back whenever. I always thought that a bit odd.

    I thought about you today while I was out checking the peonies. Can’t decide if they need more mulch or not! They finally bloomed last year. They would have bloomed the year before but it was too hot or dry or both.

    • Hi Linda! Nice to see you back. The manservant goes to Chile every couple of months for work but this was my first trip and it was all vacation. Your neighbor sounds really interesting – she must have some amazing stories.

      I’m so glad the peonies finally bloomed! You must’ve wondered if I’d sent you “dud” ones. Your daffodils and iris have been beautiful every year.

      • I’m afraid I’m not a very good plant “mom”. When it gets hot and dry in the summer, I “forget” to water things as I should. Then one spring it was so dry the buds dried up!

        They were beautiful this year.

    • The soldier took his duty very seriously; he stared straight ahead and his expression never changed. I’m too much of a sticky-beak to do a job like that – my head would be continuously swiveling around watching what was going on.

  2. LOL at the sleeping dog next to the sentry. I’m guessing not much happens at the Palace nowadays, which is good considering its terrible history. The construction of the cultural center and the statue of Allende seem to indicate that Santiago is a far happier place now.

  3. Yet another dog! I thought of you when I walked in the room and whatever was on was in Peru (not Chile but close for an American) and there were dogs EVERYWHERE.

    I’d think Africans being dragged all over the place would pop up in culture *but* like my Brazilian friend explained, in S. America, there was so much inter-mingling that what some may call ‘mixed’ race is the norm. It *is* mixed but there are more mixed people than identifiable as Black or White, etc. I’d think Chile and Peru would be perhaps more mixed Spanish and whatever is acceptable to mean indigenous. I was shocked to recently hear that’s an offensive term. That’s weird cos it just means your ancestors didn’t steal the land. I don’t think it’s derogatory but whatevs!

  4. Pingback: Chile: Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanrios… | Aussie Emjay's Blog

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