Sights in Santiago’s Outer Boroughs

Map of Gran Santiago, Chile

Gran Santiago

Most of Santiago’s outer comunas (boroughs) have few points of interest, but some are very worthwhile. They are located mostly toward the southeastern part of the city.

Viña Santa Carolina

Santiago’s most accessible winery, Viña Santa Carolina (Til Til 2228, tel. 02/4503000, tours@santacarolina.cl, call for hours) is a short subway ride from downtown. At its creation in 1875, though, Luis Pereira’s Viña Santa Carolina was puro campo (countryside). Santiago gradually enveloped it and there are no more vineyards here, but the original house remains, complete with its galleries and patios, along with impressive subterranean vaults where the wine ages in French oak. After the 2010 earthquake, Santa Carolina did substantial restoration work and expanded the gardens and other facilities for tours and events.

Santa Carolina’s main white varietals are chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, while the reds include cabernet sauvignon, carmenere, merlot, and syrah; there are also both red and white blends. The vineyards themselves are in the Cachapoal, Colchagua, and Casablanca Valleys.

In the borough of Macul, Viña Santa Carolina is only a 10-minute walk from Metro Rodrigo de Araya (Línea 5). As the end of quake restoration work approached, the hours for tours were still undecided, so phone or check the website for options.

Museo Nacional de Aeronáutica y del Espacio

Santiago’s former international and domestic airport, Aeropuerto Los Cerrillos, closed in early 2006, but one former hangar survives as Chile’s air and space museum (Av. Pedro Aguirre Cerda 5000, Cerrillos, tel. 02/4353030, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Tues.–Sun., free). It harbors a hodgepodge of historic planes such as DC-3s, and also covers Chile’s tiny role in space exploration: In 1971, Apollo 14 carried the Chilean flag to the moon.

Viña Cousiño Macul

In the southeastern comuna of Peñalolén, Cousiño Macul (Av. Quilín 7100, tel. 02/3514135, ventas@cousinomacul.cl, tours 11 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m. and noon Sat., US$14) is one of Chile’s oldest wineries. It has been in the same family since Matías Cousiño purchased the vineyards in 1856. Its cellars and Museo del Vino (Wine Museum) are open for Spanish- and English-language tours; the accompanying tasting, in an attractive bar cum sales room, includes one varietal and one reserve vintage, in a souvenir glass. The house produces cabernet, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and riesling.

Viña Cousiño Macul is a 20-minute walk from Quilín station, on the Metro’s Línea 4.

Barrio Ecológico

In upper Peñalolén, Santiago’s most nonconformist community occupies a conflictive area alongside middle-class suburban subdivisions and working-class squatter settlements where the militant leftist Movimiento Izquierdista Revolucionario (MIR) is loath to let the police even enter. Nevertheless, the residents of the self-consciously environmentally correct community have fashioned a neighborhood where campesinos once toiled to eke out low yields from barren soils.

In the 1960s, as Chilean peasants clamored for land, President Eduardo Frei Montalva’s cautious redistribution program had hesitated to tackle the powerful landowners of the fertile lowlands, preferring to acquire less desirable areas such as Peñalolén, where landowners were more amenable to a buyout. After most peasant farmers failed, naive but sincere back-to-the-land types supplanted them, living—camping, really—without utilities, but gradually planting trees and gardens and creating their own spontaneous architecture. Eventually, municipal authorities accepted the barrio as a permanent buffer against suburban sprawl, and it now enjoys running water, electricity, and telephone service—but not paved streets. The houses themselves, while atypical, have acquired an air of permanence, and many individuals from the arts and literary communities now live here.

Transantiago route D02, from Estación Irrarrázaval, goes directly to the Barrio Ecológico. An ideal walking area, it has a small handicrafts market (best on weekends) and good but simple eateries.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Chile.

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