West of Santiago Centro, the comuna of Estación Central is partly residential and partly industrial, most notable as a transit point because the city’s train and bus stations are here. The comuna takes its name from the 1897 Estación Central (Alameda 3322), a train station built in Paris on a design by the famous Gustave Eiffel. Shipped in pieces across the Atlantic, it was first proposed in 1885 by then-senator Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna.
Directly across from the station, the Planetario de la Universidad de Santiago (Alameda 3349, tel. 02/7762624, www.planetariochile.cl) is part of the Universidad de Santiago campus. While light-polluted Santiago may not the best place to view the night skies, the audiovisuals here can simulate Chile’s astronomical sophistication. These take place at 3:00, 4:15, and 5:30 p.m. on weekends, but in summer there are also weekdays events; the cost is about US$3.50 for adults, US$2.50 for children ages 3–10. There are also special entertainment-oriented shows such as tributes to Pink Floyd and similar rock groups.
Directly across from Parque Quinta Normal, the Museo Artequín (Av. Portales 3530, tel. 02/6825367, www.artequin.cl) is an interactive art museum dealing exclusively in reproductions of (mostly) European art; the building itself, built for the 1889 Paris Exhibition, then dismantled and shipped across the Pacific to be erected here, is really more interesting than the family-oriented exhibits themselves. It’s open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Friday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. weekends and holidays. Admission costs US$1 for adults, half that for kids.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition