The Town Hall Palace is currently the seat of the Municipality of Santiago. Both the Mayor and the Municipal Council exercise their functions from here.
One of the most distinctive solemn ceremonies of the city is held in the Hall of Honor: the declaration of Illustrious Guest and presentation of the Keys to the City to the Presidents of the Republic and representatives of international organizations, among other distinguished visitors.
The building, which faces Plaza de Armas, stands in the same place where, during Colonial times, the Cabildo (town hall) and the Public Jail were located. The first Cabildo houses were built in 1578, but the earthquakes that hit the city made it necessary to erect another two buildings, until in the late 18th century a new building was opened that was to be the exclusive headquarters of the Municipality of Santiago.
Next to the central hall and the Hall of Honor, in the space occupied by the cells of the public jail until the 18th century, now operates the Plaza de Armas Tourist Office.
The façade of the building boasts the city’s coat of arms, donated by King Charles V in 1552 as a sign of the city’s consolidation.
The Municipality of Santiago’s Town Hall Palace was declared a National Monument in 1976.
In 1578, work was commissioned to build the first Cabildo houses on the lands allocated by Pedro de Valdivia in the north sector of Plaza de Armas. However, the earthquake of 1647 made it necessary to erect a second building, which was completed more than twenty years later.
In subsequent years, several renovations were carried out, but the building suffered the same fate as many others affected by the earthquake of 1730.
The Public Jail, which was accessed by the street now called 21 de Mayo, also operated in this building. In 1715, a jail for women was opened in the service yard of the palace that housed the Royal Courthouse, now the National History Museum. An inventory dated 1695 records the existence of sixteen pairs of shackles with keys, five pairs of handcuffs and a torture rack, among other items.
Towards the close of the 18th century, both the Cabildo and the Jail were demolished due to their poor condition. The new building was designed by the Roman architect Joaquín Toesca, who gave a neo-classical look to the project. It was inaugurated in February 1790.
In 1811, the Government board commissioned Chilean architect Juan Jose Goycolea, a disciple of Toesca, to make some changes, but without altering the façade. The Constitution of 1823 changed the name of the Cabildos, which were then renamed Municipalities.
Since 1895, the building has been used exclusively as the headquarters of the Municipality of Santiago.
The façade is in a neo-classical style, with round arches, a continuous balcony and rectangular opening. Formerly, a tower used to stand on the axis of the portico.
The changes made by Toesca gave the building a neoclassical hallmark, with Italian Renaissance elements.
The plan has two floors: the ground floor is taken up by the large central hall, while the first houses the Hall of Honor and the offices of the municipal authorities.
21 de Mayo, 500, Santiago.