We’re back with our writer, Alison, to discuss all things to do with Chilean street art.
When you think of Chile, do you think of arte callejero or street art?
People travelling to Chile imagine the snow-peaked Andes Mountains, the ice-covered glaciers of Patagonia, or the sandy deserts of San Pedro de Atacama. For backpackers, artists, and travellers that enjoy colourful scenery, Chile has plenty to offer in the cities as well.
On my last visit to Chile, I skipped nature and decided to focus on the urban landscape. Graffiti is an eyesore to some, but Chile has serious appreciation for street art. After 18 years of brutal dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet, street art has flourished post-1990 as an expression of freedom for all Chileans.
As a result, street art in Chile is more abundant than most places on earth. If you can, be sure and check out some of the jaw-dropping public murals in this beautiful country. From outrageous to hyper-realistic and back to strange, here are 10 famous Chilean street art locations by city.
Santiago street art
Chile’s capital city is the obvious place to start your street art hunt. Every day you go outside your hotel, you will see something new.
- In San Miguel neighbourhood in south Santiago there is the Museo a Cielo Abierto or Open Air Museum. Here you can find more than 4,000 square meters of painted murals commissioned by the Chilean government in 2010.
- Bellavista on the north side of the Mapocho River features tons of street art leading up to the popular San Cristobal hill for hiking.
- Barrio Brasil between Cumming and República metro stations has the highest density of street art. Remember to madrugar or get up early and hit the streets on a Sunday because the best spray art is on the roll-down shutters when Santiaguinos close up shop.
The gorgeous port city of Valparaíso or Paradise Valley is a feast for the eyes. Steep hillsides, winding streets, brightly-coloured houses, and walls of maritime-inspired street art are found on the cerros or hills of Valparaíso. National Geographic says street art is the principal draw for visitors.
- Start at Cerro Alegre or Happy Hill. Templeman Street has every style imaginable. Take a piece of Chilean street art home with you! Visit the artist studio halfway up Cerro Alegre at 213 Almirante Montt. Here I found a local artist (forgot his name) using spray-can prints that mimic the streets of Valparaíso. This artist told me the local government promotes culture by giving artists a living stipend.
- Cerro Florida is where revolutionary Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has a house named “La Sebastiana”. The surrounding plaza was opened for murals by local university students and artists as a way to show his adoration to the city’s vibrant scene.
- Don’t forget Cerro Concepción and the escalera piano or rainbow-painted musical stairs for a gram-worthy spot.
Vallenar, Chile is a small mining town 9 hours north of the capital. It’s popular with surfers, wake-boarders, and ocean-loving backpackers due to nearby Huasco beach. Thanks to the young hipster demographics, there is street art everywhere.
- The most eye-popping art is around Vallenar’s centrally-located park Plaza Ambrosio O’Higgins. Grab an empanada meat pie and snack as you walk around admiring the public walls.
- Get the inside scoop on Vallenar arts and music concerts by checking out local co-working and community centre Somos Cowork which features cool murals in their open-air patio.
Vicuña is a desert town in central Chile about 6 hours from Santiago by car. It is the birthplace of diplomat and Nobel Prize-Winning poet Gabriela Mistral and the perfect place for stargazers to experience the star-studded skies of Valle del Elqui.
- The best street art spot is near the Museo Gabriela Mistral. Just outside the museum you will find murals of her poetry: despair, spirituality, and of course lots of estrellas stars.
- Avenida Las Delicias is Vicuña’s main drag. It goes through town towards the Capel Cooperative where they make local pisco liquor from grapes. Walk this road to see monochromatic murals featuring indigenous faces and local animales.
From Santiago to Valparaíso and Vallenar to Vicuña, many cities in Chile offer street art tours. With this guide to Chilean street art, you can even plan your own walking tours for free.