1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Santiago de Chile

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SANTIAGO, or Santiago de Chile, a city of Chile, capital of the republic and chief town of a province of the same name, on the Mapocho river, a small tributary of the Maipú or Maipo, 115 m. W. of Valparaiso, in 33° 26′ 42″ S., 70° 40′ 36″ W. Pop. (1895) 256,413, (1900) 269,886, (1902, estimated) 322,059 It is built on a wide, beautiful plain about 1860 ft. above sea-level, between the main range of the Andes and the less elevated heights of Cuesta del Prado. In the centre of the city rises the rocky hill of Santa Lucia, once forming its citadel, but now converted into a pleasure-ground, with winding walks, picturesque views, theatres, restaurants and monuments. Immediately N.N.W. and N.E. are other hills, known as Colina, Renca and San Cristóbal, and overshadowing all are the snow-clad Andean peaks of La Chapa and Los Amarillos, visible from all parts of the city. The Mapocho, once the cause of destructive inundations (especially in 1609 and 1783), was enclosed with solid embankments during the administration of Ambrosio O'Higgins, and is now crossed by several handsome bridges; the oldest (1767–1779) of these has eleven arches. Santiago is laid out with great regularity, and its comparatively broad straight streets form parallelograms and enclose several handsome public squares, the Plaza de la Independencia, the Campo de Marte and others. The principal streets have been repaved with asphalt instead of the old cobblestone and Belgian block pavements; water is brought in through an aqueduct (1865) 5 m. long; and there are tramway lines on all the principal streets.

The cathedral, facing on the Plaza de la Independencia, is the oldest of the churches. Originally erected by Pedro de Valdivia, it was rebuilt by García Hurtado de Mendoza, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1647 and was rebuilt on a new plan subsequent to 1748. It is 351 ft. long and 92 ft. wide, has only one tower and is not striking in appearance. Its interior decorations, however, are rich and in good taste. Among the other ecclesiastical buildings are the church of San Augustin, erected in 1595 by Cristóbal de Vera, and in modern times adorned with a pillared portico; the churches of San Francisco, La Merced and Santo Domingo, dating from the 18th century; the church of the Reformed Dominicans, rich in monolithic marble columns; the Carmen Alto, or church of the Carmelite nunnery, an elegant little Gothic structure; the Augustine nunnery, founded by Bishop Medellin in 1576; the episcopal palace; and the chapel erected in 1852 to the memory of Pedro de Valdivia next to the house in which he is reputed to have lived. There are two fine cemeteries—one exclusively Roman Catholic and the other secularized. Mural interment is the custom in Santiago.

Among the secular buildings the more noteworthy are the Capitol, with its rows of massive columns and surrounded with beautiful gardens; the Moneda, or executive residence, which contains the offices of the cabinet ministers also; the municipal palace; the courts, or palace of justice; the post office and telegraph department; the exposition palace in the Quinta Normal, which houses the national museum; the university of Chile, dating from 1842; the national library with over 100,000 volumes; the School of Arts and Trades (Lyceo de Artes y Oficios); the national conservatory of music; the medical school; the astronomical observatory; the national institute; the mint; and a municipal theatre. There are also a military school, a school of agriculture, mining school, normal schools and a number of charitable institutions. The old Universidad de San Felipe, founded in 1747, was closed in 1839, and was succeeded three years later by the present national university. Facing the Capitol, which includes the two halls of Congress, is a small park and commemorative shaft, marking the spot where stood the Jesuits' church, burned down on the night of the 8th of December 1868, and with it “two thousand victims, more or less,” chiefly women.

There is railway communication with Valparaiso, with Los Andes and the international tunnel and with the provincial capitals of the south.

Santiago was founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia, who was engaged in the conquest of Chile, and it received the title of Santiago del Nuevo Estremo. It has suffered from earthquakes and from political disorder. After the defeat of the royalists at Chacabuco (Feb. 12th, 1817), it was occupied by the revolutionary forces under General José de San Martin. Though the scene of many revolutionary outbreaks, it has never been subjected to a regular siege.

The province of Santiago, bounded N. by Aconcagua, W. by Mendoza, S. by O'Higgins and Colchagua and W. by Valparaiso and the Pacific, has an area of 5665 sq. m. and a population (1895) of 415,636. It forms part of the “Vale of Chile,” celebrated for its fertility and fine climate.