Produce from throughout the region converges on the Feria de Chillán, a vigorous fruit-and-vegetable market that fills the entire Plaza de la Merced, southeast of the Plaza de Armas, and overflows onto nearby streets. Also boasting an impressive assortment of handicrafts, it’s open every day but is most active on Saturday.
Part of its eponymous church on Plaza General Lagos, the Museo Franciscano (Sargento Aldea 265, tel. 042/211634) honors the contributions of colonial Franciscan missionaries who used Chillán as a base to evangelize the Mapuche to the south (even after Chilean independence, this was the northern limit of the area commonly known as “La Frontera,” much of it under effective indigenous control). It’s open Tuesday–Saturday 9 a.m.–noon and 3–6 p.m.
One of few structures of any antiquity, the 1874 Capilla del Hospital San Juan de Dios (Av. O’Higgins 1661) is the remaining chapel of the former main hospital; a few blocks south of Avenida Collín, this historical monument is rapidly deteriorating.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition