Chile: Cerro San Cristobal

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Chileans seem to have a “thing” for the Virgin Mary.  We ran across her in many places during our trip;  in churches, in parks and in paddocks in the middle of no-where.  The largest one we saw was 14m (45′) tall sitting on an 8.3m (27′) pedestal and weighing a hefty 36,610kg (80711 lbs) !!    This Blessed lady sits on top of Cerro San Cristobal –  an 880m (2,887′) hill where she can be seen blessing the city from just about every corner of Santiago.  She was made in Paris but I do not know how she was transported to Chile or how & when she was installed at the top of the hill.

Cerro San Cristobal was named after the San Cristobal family which had a quarry on one side of the hill but its original name was “Tupahue”  (Mapudungun for “place of gods”).   The largest green space in Santiago is on Cerro San Cristobal  –  the 722h (1,784 acres) Parque Metropolitano.  Within the Parque is also a Japanese-style garden (Jardin Japones) and two municipal pools – the Piscina Tupahue and Piscina AntilenPiscina Antilén (where you have panoramic views of the city while you swim).

To get to the top of the hill one can either walk (this apparently takes about 90 mins),  cycle, or take the Funicular train which I heard described as being like a very slow roller-coaster.  The funicular started operating on April 25, 1925.  There are two, and one goes up as the other comes down.  The entrance to the station is much fancier than my DC metro!   IMG_6266

I hate rides so I ventured onto this with some trepidation.   The  “cars”   reminded me of coal cars and you just stand in them and hold on:       IMG_6337The funicular climbs 485m  (1,591′) at an incline of 45 degrees at 110m per minute (360′ per minute).    Half way up is the Chilean National Zoo but our funicular did not stop there and actually it looked closed so I’m not sure if that’s an “attraction”  or not –  reviews I read of the zoo were rather harsh though one said it might be the only place you’ll see Chile’s national mascot, the tiny pudú deer. IMG_6272

You “land”  at the summit station which is not really the summit as you have to then climb further to get to the top.   There are great views of Santiago smog at this level and you can just make out the Andes in the background.  IMG_6316.IMG_6276.IMG_6308

There is another “level” with Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepción del Cerro San Cristóbal  (the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception)


and various other religious things:   .

Then you climb a bit further towards Mary:   IMG_6288And a bit further still …..   IMG_6324  Inside the pedestal section there is a small chapel where John Paul II prayed & blessed Santiago on 1st April 1987  and the open air amphitheatre is used for Masses and ceremonies.IMG_6304.

IMG_6325aOn the way back down I noticed a sign on the funicular car which says (according to Google translator):  “In the car, on April 1, 1987, rose to the feet of the Virgin Mary Mother of God and Our Sea, His Holiness John Paul II, to give, from the sanctuary, his apostolic blessing to Santiago and throughout Chile, in his pastoral visit by the country ”   IMG_6269aIt had been a long day for us starting with the Cementerio General de Santiago  so once we left the Virgin we felt we deserved a late afternoon drink  –  a Chilean white wine for me and pisco sour for the manservant:  IMG_6392

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9 responses

  1. The views are indeed beautiful, but you are brave to ride the funicular. Even if the Pope took it up to visit the Virgin! I always wonder if my particular ride is going to be “the” moment when a critical piece of machinery fails and we all go tumbling to the bottom of the abyss. I probably would have insisted on having a drink first before riding the train up. 😀

    • Well, when we were in China we had to go up Purple Mountain (Nanjing) to the Observatory and I refused to go in the cable car thingy because it looked to be in, really, really, really bad condition. So we walked, and walked and walked and it was bloody hot and it was steep and it was a really, really unpleasant walk but I refused to admit that I had made the wrong choice 🙂 When I decided I wanted to see the Virgin I knew the funicular (don’t you love how it has “fun” in the name?) was the sensible way to go (I reminded myself how much I hated that walk up Purple Mountain!) so I had built myself up for the challenge before we got there and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.

      I might’ve neglected to mention that we did have lunch (& drinks) in-between the Cultural Center and visiting the Virgin….

  2. Great vistas!

    Any ‘Catholic’ country (where it’s literally still the Official Religion) I’ve visited is so decorated by the Holy Mother. And when I was in Ireland, I was surprised to see much less. You can swing a dead cat in France or Spain or Italy without hitting Her.

    FS wanted me to ride the ‘cog train’ up to Pike’s Peak when I was out there the first time. The weather was desperate and they shut it down. I’m still not keen. Too high, really. If it’s 90F below, it’s often below freezing when you get to the top. See? Too high. 🙂

      • I think a lot of that is tradition. I know a ton of Protestants who still only eat fish on Friday and that’s not a wide-spread Protestant thing. I’m not saying some don’t teach it but in my world of acquaintance, it’s officially a Catholic thing — and even then, only through Lent! — Unless they’re very religious. One friend (filipino, in general, a very Catholic country!) didn’t even go to Mass but on high feast days but always ate fish on every Friday. Ha!

  3. There’s no way I can trump GOM’s comment so I might as well just nick off. 😉

    I’ve seen the funicular cars on TV , but riding in one with the real-life sounds and maybe smells must be a unique experience. Appreciated all the other photographs too.

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