Santa Lucía Hill is one of the most frequented public parks by local and foreign tourists, as it is one of the most recognizable icons in the capital and in the country.
It is a silent witness of the growth of the city of Santiago since the Spanish conquerors arrived in the Mapocho Valley on December 13, 1540.
Known as Huelén by the local natives, it was at the foot of this hill where conqueror Pedro de Valdivia set up camp before founding Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura.
Cerro Santa Lucía changed its wild appearance in 1872, thanks to the Mayor of Santiago, Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, who turned it into an attractive walk.
Besides a variety of tree species, ornamentation originally from Europe and remains of Chile’s colonial past, Cerro Santa Lucía stands for its attractive spaces, such as Hidalgo Castle, and the terraces known as Neptuno and Caupolicán.
Cerro Santa Lucía is one of the most visited public green areas in the capital.
Known as Huelén by the local natives of the Mapocho Valley, it was named Santa Lucía by the Spaniards on December 13, 1540. The first hermitages were built there: Vírgen del Socorro, Patron Saint of Arms, in 1543; Santa Lucía (the basis of La Merced Convent), and at a later date the San Saturnino (protector from earthquakes) hermitage.
During the period of the Reconquest (1814-1817), Casimiro Marcó del Pont, the last Spanish governor in Chile, made the hill into a bulwark of royal defence by constructing the forts called Marcó (González Castle on the Caupolicán Terrace) and Santa Lucía (now Hidalgo Castle). Between 1840 and 1862, it operated as the first astronomical observatory on this peak, which was later moved to Quinta Normal under the direction of Ignacio Domeyko.
When he became Mayor of Santiago, in April of 1872, Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna proposed changing the hill into an attractive walk for the local people. Works commenced on 4th June 1872, and were completed on 17th September 1874. The first contingent of workers were made up of 60 prisoners, “who comfortably settled into Hidalgo Castle”. They used about 18,000 cartloads of vegetable earth, and the hill was populated with palmtrees from Ocoa and Cocalán, cactus, watermelons, wild flower blossom and rain-fed seeds from the Vicuña Mackenna estate.
Once the park was officially opened, visitors can find, all in the same place, an original Spanish coat of arms, a mythical bell that used to belong to the Church of the Company of Jesus, a museum, telescopes, swings and a beautiful merry-go-round.
Streetlights, statues, fountains and vases were brought from Europe to ornament and embellish the place.
Between 1897 and 1903, the architect, Víctor Villeneuve, built the monumental entrance to the Alameda.
This terrace was built at the turn of the 20th century. It is known for the splendid Neptune Fountain, dedicated to the Roman God of the sea. In this sector the Tourist Offices of the Municipality of Santiago can also be found.
Over the entranceway can be seen a Spanish coat of arms, worked and stone and originally made to be placed in the Palacio de la Moneda.
Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna Hermitage
A neo-Gothic style chapel. Following the death of Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, society decided to pay him tribute by making this place into a family grotto.
Initially, this building housed the “Indigenous Museum”. Today it operates as an events center.
This was the first garden to be planted on this hill, so that its trees are the oldest in the park.