Santiago, a closer look

Today we had a full day tour of Santiago beginning with the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. It is only in the past 5 years that Chileans have begun to confront, discuss and deal with the disturbing events of the 1970’s and 80’s, particularly September 11, 1973, which I have already discussed.

Michelle Bachelet, in her second term as President of Chile from 2014 to 2018, introduced the concept of “space for memory,” meaning that the Chilean people need to make room in their thoughts to confront the country’s bitter past. The design of the building reflects the theme of “space.”


Ms. Bachelet adds a positive note and the importance of never allowing subsequent generations to forget what happened or to question the fundamentals of democracy. Her statement on display at the entrance of the museum:

“We cannot learn our past with just nostalgia, I learn from experience, this is our responsibility and our challenge.”

Next, we visited Museo de Violeta Parra , which focusses on her fine art. It is housed in a lovingly-built modern architectural building which echoes her love of weaving, painting and working in mixed media.

The museum also contained the original draft of Thanks to Life!, written in Ms. Parra”s hand.

An Excerpt::

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two stars, which when I open them,
Perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the tall sky its starry backdrop,
And within the multitudes the one that I love.


Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me tears.
With them I distinguish happiness from pain
The two elements that make up my song,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

– Violeta Parra

Examples of her work:

Next we visited the first of 3 homes of Neruda, “La Chascona” – but more on that later.

Lunch is the main meal of the day, usually at around 2:00 p.m. We ate at a wine bar under the saying, “Penicillin makes you healthy, wine makes you happy.”

The cevice and clams were pretty and delicious.

Happy and fortified, we moved on to Los Dominicos, a former mission where many of the artists were indigenous people.


Jewelry of local copper, lapis lazuli and other stones and gorgeous textiles of alpaca, linen and silk were too beautiful to resist.

Stuck in the epic traffic in Santiago, 7 of us arrived a little late for a concert in the stunning Teatro Municipal which has just received a $35 million renovation. It mattered little and we were swept into our seats as soon as we arrived. After one interesting modern piece by Leonard Bernstein, we were treated to Beethoven’s 3rd symphony by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago.  The gorgeous theatre was packed to the rafters.

The dome:

An example of the statuary bearing the star of the Chilean flag:

What Juan Pablo Izquierdo, the 83-year-old musical director, lacked in stature he made up for by throwing his entire body into the performance. The music inhabited him. He would lunge at the varous sections as they came into the piece and at one point it appeared he was going to hurl himself into the second violin section, mosh pit style. Very humble, too. After four curtain calls he came back to the stage and grabbed sheet music off a musician’s stand so we would cheer instead for Beethoven himself.

What a perfect ending to an otherwise perfect day.



1 thought on “Santiago, a closer look

  1. This is incredible Jan.You have included so much about the culture of Santiago, art,music ,dining, shopping.I’m curious to know more about the museum of memory and Michelle Bachelette. Love and Hugs Joyce

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