Pueblito Los Dominicos: Artisans at Work

Art in Pueblito Los DominicosQuaint, narrow alleys lined with traditional adobe buildings, straw roofs, artisan shops, and the irresistible smell of pastel de choclo—this is the enchantment of Los Dominicos, Chile’s largest artisanal center.

Many people say it’s a must-see for tourists, but Edwin and his mother had never visited.  (The life of a foreigner is so different from that of a local!)

So in hopes of amending the fact that we had forgotten her birthday, we took my mother-in-law on a day trip to Los Dominicos.

A maze of shops

Narrow streets Los DominicosThe Pueblito de Los Dominicos has some 160 shops and unquantifiable amounts of talent.  We enjoyed watching artisans in their workshopschipping away at wooden statues, heating metal for jewelry, or weaving wicker baskets.

Condor in LapislazuliI found the prices to be very reasonable, even in comparison with markets like Santa Lucía.  It’s important to remember that Los Dominicos has a wide range in its quality of work.

There’s a difference between works of art by master artisans and smaller, touristy or utilitarian items.  In Los Dominicos, you can buy both: beautiful artwork to cherish for your whole life and unremarkable souvenirs for your nephews, nieces, or friends at work.

In addition to handicrafts, you can buy plants and pets, or explore art expositions and plays.  We bought a lemon tree and some tomato plants as a gift to my mother-in-law.

Eats

The food is a little pricey considering it’s the kind of food that you can find in picadas, the Chilean “hole in the wall” food joint.  If you want to buy the pastel de choclo, it’s probably worth it.  But for other vegetarians out there, it’s slim pickings—salads, cheese empanadas, french fries or maybe mashed potatoes.

History

Did you know? The Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer was printed on the back of the 2000 peso bill from 1997 to 2010.

Did you know? The Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer was printed on the back of the 2000 peso bill from 1997 to 2010.

The Church of Los Dominicos, officially named la Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer, was built during the first half of the 19th century in the skirts of the pre-Andean foothills.

During the late 1970s, artisans started setting up shops in the small adobe buildings that had made up an hacienda-style pueblito.  In 1983, the church was named a National Monument, and the “little town” next to it was dubbed the Pueblito de Los Dominicos.

It is now owned by the Cultural Corporation of Las Condes.

Visiting Los Dominicos

If you want to learn more about Los Dominicos before visiting, check out this gallery of photos or this video (Sorry, the chick’s pretty awkward).

Summer schedule (October to April): Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 to 20:00 hrs.
Winter Schedule (May to September): Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 to 19:00 hrs.
Phones: 8969841 – 8969842 – 8969843
Theatre phone: 8969840
Avenida Apoquindo 9085, Metro Los Dominicos

Palacio Baburizza: Valparaíso’s Museum of Fine Arts

This post is about how a dire need for a restroom turned into a fantastic fine arts experience.

So as wonderful as the stay was at our lovely little hostel, Casa Valparaíso Hostal, there was a pretty big drawback for us: when we returned to the hostel Thursday night, the water had been cut for maintenance.  This happens occasionally.  Unfortunately, it still wasn’t back the next morning, even by the time we had eaten breakfast.  So we set out, our eyes set on the Palacio Baburizza, Museum of Fine Arts.  They were sure to have some bathrooms for our use.

We got there by way of the mansion’s formerly private terrace—currently known as Paseo Yugoslavia.  The view was phenomenal.

My sexy husband...

West Side of Palacio Baburizza

The building itself looked very promising, so we agreed to pay the 1,000 CLP (about two bucks) admission to use their restrooms and have a look around.

As soon as we entered the building, a guard showed us to the restrooms and became concerned when fifteen minutes later, we still hadn’t returned upstairs.  (Suffice it to say, the bathroom was worth it.)

But our visit didn’t end there.  We explored three floors—four, when you include the basement—of European and Chilean art from the 19th and 20th centuries.  Besides the many paintings on the walls, the architecture, windows, and views all vied heavily for our attention.

This palace was built in 1916 and operated as a museum from 1971-1997, at which point it closed due to maintenance problems.  After many years of work off and on, the museum reopened in 2011.

It was quite the treat, especially on such a clear day.  And all because we needed to use the restroom.  By the way, the day after we left, this happened:

It destroyed two houses and did serious damage to a handful of others, but nobody was hurt.  Chile, you never cease to amaze me.

Feel free to share your most bizarre or rewarding searches for bathrooms… !

For more posts about Valparaíso check out Valparaíso: A Canvas of Hills and Walls and La Sebastiana: Neruda’s Whimsical Valparaíso House.

Valparaíso: A Canvas of Hills and Walls

It would be hard to pinpoint what part of Valpo makes up her heart… is it the history of this bustling port?  Or the National Congress Building?  Or maybe the steep, undulating hills, crowded with colorful houses and funiculars?

Whatever the most important part of Valparaíso may be, her poetry and soul undoubtedly rest in the street art and graffiti that bathe every wall with color and life.

As you can see, there is a vast range of style, skill, message, and location in this “graffiti.”  Not to mention the striking scale of some of the murals.  Check out the mural below, which can be seen from the Paseo Gervasoni.

This is why, when you go to Valparaíso, you go to walk, to observe.  Not so much to do as to feel… and by the end of the day, you will feel tired.  (There are many hills to climb, and your feet are the best way to do it!)

Emz and me from Paseo GarvasoniIf you want to be more structured and intentional about your exploration, plan your graffiti adventures around Valpo’s many paseos and miradores.  (See a list here.)  For example, you might start by taking the Concepción funicular up to Paseo Gervasoni, loop around to Paseo Yugoslavo to visit the Baburizza Palace (See my post here!), which is a beautiful building that hosts the Municipal Fine Arts Museum, and finally work your way to Cerro Florida to visit La Sebastiana.

Historic Neighborhood ValparaísoIf you don’t want to plan it out step by step, wandering the streets of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción will give you ample opportunity to get your eye-candy fix.  This is one of Valpo’s most historic neighborhoods and a big part of why UNESCO declared Valparaíso a World Heritage Site in 2003.  This map gives a pretty good idea of where you’ll be roaming.

But how do we achieve this kind of respect for street art in our own cities?  Comment with your thoughts about how to find the balance between discouraging vandalism and encouraging art.

For more posts about Valparaíso check out Palacio Baburizza: Valparaíso’s Museum of Fine Arts and La Sebastiana: Neruda’s Whimsical Valparaíso House.