Santiago Metropolitan Park
The Santiago Metropolitan Park, which stretches across 1,780 acres, is currently the largest metropolitan park in South America. The park has two main entrances, located at Pio Nono 450 in the Recoleta neighborhood and Pedro de Valdivia Norte in the Providencia neighborhood. The northern end of each road (Pio Nono and Pedro de Valdivia Norte) is a park entrance.
The southernmost and arguably the most popular hill, Cerro San Cristobal, is named for St. Christopher, the patron saint of the Spanish conquistadores. The peak of this hill is topped with a large statue of the Virgin Mary, which can be spotted rising above the cityscape from miles away. On April 1, 1987 Pope John Paul II took the funicular to the chapel at the top of Cerro San Cristobal, conducted a mass, and left an icon of Saint Lucas, which is exhibited in the showcase at the base of the Virgin Mary statue to this day.
Getting to the Peak
There are three ways to get to the top of Cerro San Cristobal: walking, taking the funicular, or riding the cable car.
You can request information and a map of the walking trails at either main entrance of the park, but if your goal is to reach the peak, the Pio Nono entrance is recommended. Entrances are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day.
You can access the funicular from the Pio Nono park entrance. The funicular first opened in 1925, and it functions on a counterweight system, making it more stable than an elevator. A round trip journey costs approximately $3.5 USD ($4.5 USD on holidays and weekends). Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 1:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Monday. (Please note, the funicular is closed on the first Monday of every month.)
You can access the cable car from the Pedro de Valdivia Norte park entrance. This renovated cable car system was reopened in November 2016. There is a stop at Tupahue, where you can find the Casa de Cultura Anahuac, and another stop at the Cerro San Cristobal peak. The cable car offers panoramic views of the park and the surrounding city—on a clear day you can see the Andes Mountain Range. There also is a mechanism to transport bicycles. (Please note that passengers are unable to retrieve their bicycles at the Tupahue stop.) A round trip journey costs approximately $4 USD ($5 USD on holidays and weekends). Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Things to Do
There are a variety of trails you can take through the park. At either park entrance, you can request a trail map that will show you how to follow the trails to the peak of Cerro San Cristobal or to one of the other notable locations within the park.
Casa Cultura de Anahuac (Anahuac Cultural Center) located at the Tupahue Station of the cable car. This cultural center often has dance or music performances starting on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. The building is open to the public from Tuesdays to Sundays, and an ever-changing collection of art and artifacts. (Exhibits typically change on a monthly basis.)
Virgen de la Immaculada Concepcion (the statue of the Virgin Mary) This famous statue is located at the peak of Cerro San Cristobal, the park’s southernmost hill, near the top of the funicular. The statue faces southwest toward downtown Santiago, which was originally the neighborhood of the upper economic class but is now is home to a wider variety of socioeconomic classes.
Santuario de la Virgen (Sanctuary of the Virgin) is a church with religious murals displayed inside. On Sundays at noon, you can attend a Roman Catholic mass in the open-air amphitheater in front of the statue of the Virgin. Mass is no longer held within the walls of the church.
Muestra Historica del Parque (Historic Display of the Park)
There is a small, Gothic-style building with four gargoyles on the corners located at the top of the funicular. If you walk around the building, you can see a small exhibit that displays notable historic events from the past 100 years in and around the park.
Many of our travelers will visit Cerro San Cristobal on a Santiago City Tour, and its well worth exploring. If you are interested in visiting Chile to see more that the city of Santiago has to offer, please contact us about one of our Chile itineraries.