Located on a 1,706-foot plateau, with the Andes as a backdrop, Santiago blends 18th & l9th century buildings, sleek skyscrapers and Spanish colonial cathedrals. Due to its geographic location, Santiago is one of the few capital cities in the world which has easy access both to ski slopes and beaches. It is in fact possible to visit the modern ski resorts as well as the famous beach resort of Vina del Mar in just one day.
The majestic Andean Mountain Range can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Stroll around Plaza de Armas or visit any of the markets. Chile is one of the two places in the world producing lapis lazuli. Points of interest in the city are a zoological park, the 16th-century cathedral and the Presidential Palace, built in the early 19th century. Among the many museums here are the National Historical Museum, with collections from the pre-Columbian, colonial, and more recent periods and the Art of the American Peoples Museum, with a collection of Chilean folk art.
Numerous villages located in the countryside around Santiago invite the visitor to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of country life. Tourists may also visit the vineyards and try the delicious Chilean wines. Santiago was established in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia in an area inhabited by the Picunche people. When Chile achieved independence in 1818, it became the nation's capital.
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