Historically-inspired travellers to Chile will find a country textured by fascinating stories and incredible sites. Numerous fortresses dot the landscape, such as the 19th century Fuerte Bulnes and the Inca Pukará de Quitor. Meanwhile the one thousand stone monuments on Rapa Nui are of enduring interest, albeit 3,512 km from continental Chile.
The shadow of General Pinochet looms large over contemporary Chile, and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago provides an opportunity to learn more about the Chilean dictatorship and its victims. Here are 5 incredible historic sites in Chile.
1. Cementerio General de Santiago
The Cementerio General de Santiago is a vast cemetery in Chile’s capital. It is the final resting place for many of the country’s leading political and social figures.
Almost a city within a city, Cementerio General de Santiago is a labyrinth of elaborate tombs and avenues. Among the cemetery’s numerous monuments is a memorial to the victims of General Pinochet’s 16-year dictatorship, which left 3,000 people dead or missing.
2. Easter Island
Easter Island is a remote island in the Pacific Island on the southeastern point of the Polynesian Triangle. Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, was annexed by Chile in 1888 and today has the constitutional status of “special territory”. The island features 1,000 monumental statues called moai.
The island may have been first inhabited between 800 and 1200 AD. By the time European sailors landed in 1722 the island’s population was between 2,000 and 3,000. Today around 6,000 people live on Rapa Nui, half of them identifying as ethnically Rapa Nui
3. Pukará de Quitor
The Pre-Columbian archaeological site of Pukará de Quitor is a stone fortress in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Situated close to the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama, the ruins date to perhaps the 12th century AD. The walled city was ruled by the Inca until the 16th century, when the Spanish struggled for two decades to subdue its inhabitants.
The ancient city itself was protected by fortifications now preserved as an archaeological site. Pukará de Quitor was declared a national monument of Chile in 1982. A ticket must be purchased to visit the site.
4. Fuerte Bulnes
Fuerte Bulnes is a fort in Chile founded in 1843. It is situated 62 km south of Punta Arenas, beside the Strait of Magellan, and named after the President Manuel Bulnes Prieto. Construction of the fort was intended to coincide with colonial policies in southern Chile.
The fort was rebuilt as a historic monument by the government of Chile between 1941 and 1943. The log cabins of the replica construction include a church, chaplain’s quarters, a jail, powder magazine, post office and stables. The site was declared a historic monument in 1968.
5. Museum of Memory and Human Rights
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights is located in Chile’s capital city of Santiago and commemorates the victims of human rights violations committed between 1973 and 1990. During this time, Chile was ruled by the military dictator Augusto Pinochet. The museum was inaugurated in 2010 by former President Michelle Bachelet.
The museum houses testimony from survivors of Pinochet’s regime, letters to family members by prisoners in detention centres, as well as torture devices. The museum is near the city’s Quinta Normal Park.