West of the Vía Norte Sur, Barrio Brasil was a prestigious early-20th-century residential area that fell upon hard times but has recently rebounded without losing its character. The best way to approach the barrio is the Huérfanos pedestrian suspension bridge that crosses the Vía Norte Sur to an area where private universities have introduced a youthful vigor. It’s also good for moderately priced accommodations and food.
The barrio’s focus is its lovingly landscaped namesake, Plaza Brasil. Dating from 1892, its most impressive landmark may be the neo-Gothic Basílica del Salvador (Huérfanos 1781), if only because it’s still standing after the 1985 earthquake. Dating from 1926, the most idiosyncratic building is the German Gothic Universidad Albert Hurtado (Cienfuegos 41), whose grinning gargoyles and smiling skulls, jutting out from its facade, always attract attention.
On Santiago Centro’s western edge, beyond Barrio Brasil proper, wooded Parque Quinta Normal offers relief from a densely built area and is home to several museums.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition