Thursday's Child: Street Art in Valparaiso, Chile

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valparaiso, Chile is a city that's seen both highs and lows.  In the eighteenth century, it was a thriving town serving as a major port for ships travelling from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean via the Straits of Magellan.  But a serious earthquake in 1906 badly damaged the city's infrastructure. And when the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, eliminating Valparaiso's usefulness as a port, the city fell into long-term decline.  It has recently begun to revive, though, after being granted UNESCO World Heritage Site protection in 2003.

Built over a series of hills, Valparaiso really is a unique city.  Pedestrians often travel between levels using one of a series of funiculars.  Streets meander in a maze-like pattern, and are both cobblestoned and steep.  An afternoon's walk delivered more than an adequate workout.

Despite the difficult walking conditions, Valparaiso was one of the most beautiful cities I've walked in, the reason being the street art.  The city is known for its colourful murals, hundreds of which cover public space throughout the city.  Some were personal statements, some were political, and yet others were whimsical (see the ladder and sofa below).  But in total they delivered an ongoing sequence of art that meant our afternoon was a constant set of discoveries.  Every time we rounded a corner, we hoped to find a new and unusual mural, and we were seldom disappointed.




24 comments:

LDH said...

So much beauty in Valparaiso with all of the street art. Looks like you had a great time and got a lot of exercise walking the steep inclines.

Becki's Whole Life said...

Beautiful pictures! I love the one with the women...did you just stand there and stare for a while? I could get lost in each of them!

Valerie said...

Ever since Sting's song, Valparaiso, I've been intrigued with the city. What beautiful murals and cobble-stoned streets!

Belinda said...

I would LOVE to see this city - how wonderful to walk through a city and see such beauty.

Lizzy said...

What a fun city to explore! I hope to get to Chile some day :)

Beth said...

Becki, I definitely stopped quite often to admire them. They were even more beautiful in person than in the photos.

And Valerie, I must admit I don't know that song, but now I'll have to look it up!

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - what an incredible city! Obviously some very creative folks live there!! :)

tenaciouslyyours.com said...

What a wonderful surprise - I love cities where artists are encouraged to share their work in the public space. The overall feel of the city becomes somehow more...comforting, I think. The girls are cracking me up in those snaps! You have to Take Advantage when those situations appear.

Claudia said...

Your travels just welcome me. I've never been to South America - but want to so much. I want the feel of the pavement of other cultures, other people and new eyes awakened to new art.

Yummy said...

What great photos!

Beth said...

Hi, "Yummy"! Next time you visit, please leave your blog address. You've been such a faithful commenter, but I don't have any way of visiting your blog. Thanks!

sweetandcrumby.com said...

The murals may be awesome,but your girls steal the show! They're gorgeous! They are very lucky to get to travel so much.

Barbara Jean said...

Wow - now that's some amazing street art. I'm often intrigued by graffiti (not the destructive kind) but this is a different category altogether.

Mary said...

That art is incredible. I would have truly loved to walk that city as well.

Carol said...

What a fantastic place to walk and roam, the artwork is so vibrant, I'm glad the city is being revitalized. Your girls are adorable. Great shots.

Elaine said...

Those murals are beautiful. I love street murals and have posted a few from Sacramento and San Francisco. It's so much fun to stumble upon them when you are out for a walk around the city.

Lori said...

That is gorgeous! I had the opportunity to go to Valparaiso for a split second just before we moved back from Brazil. :) It ended up not working out, but I would have loved to see it. Looks like a very cool place.

Simply Life said...

I would lOVE to visit Chile- fun pics to see!

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like an interesting place! Those are amazing murals.

bakewithjill.com said...

Fun photos of the girls with the ladder and sofa!

sally said...

Love the sofa and ladder photos!

comfortablydomestic.com said...

There's something so inspiring about visiting places in the midst of a revival. I think that it's wonderful the local artists are encouraged to showcase their artwork. Gorgeous!

Joanne said...

I'm so amazed at how vibrant this city is! Beautifully colorful.

lisa is cooking said...

What a great city to explore! The steep streets sound worth braving to see those murals.

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