About Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile!

Santiago Language Courses Valparaíso is located in central Chile, 120 km (74 miles) to the northwest of Santiago. The city is an important educational centre with nine universities. Major industries include tourism, culture, and transport. Valparaiso stages a major festival attended by hundreds of thousands of participants on the last three days of every year. The festival culminates with a "New Year's by the Sea" fireworks show, the biggest in all of Latin America, attended by a million tourists who fill the coastline and hillsides with a view of the bay.

Approximately 50 international cruise ships call on Valparaíso during the 4-month Chilean summer. The port of Valparaíso is also an important hub for shipping of container freight, and exports of wine, copper, and fresh fruit.

Travel between Valparaíso and Santiago currently takes some 70 minutes on a state-of-the-art toll road.

Santiago Language Courses In 2003, the Chilean Congress declared Valparaíso to be "Chile's Cultural Capital" and home for the nation's new cultural ministry. Although technically only Chile's 6th largest city, with an urban area population of 260,000, the Greater Valparaíso metropolitan area, including the neighboring resort city of Viña del Mar, is the second largest in the country.

Nicknamed "The Jewel of the Pacific", Valparaíso was declared a world heritage site based upon its improvised urban design and unique architecture. The official Unesco declaration also places exceptional emphasis on Valparaíso’s unique "intangible heritage," which includes the city's ethnic heritage as seen through the traditions and life styles of Valparaíso's immigrant communities.

Santiago Language Courses Immortalized in the words of Pablo Neruda as the Ocean's sweetheart ("novia del océano"), the city that goes to Paradise ("Va al paraíso") is one of Chile's - if not South America's - most charismatic and historic ports, with its charming 'ascensores' (funiculars) and colorful hillside houses.

A new regional Metro system, opened to the public on 24 November 2005, updated parts of the railroad that joined Santiago to Valparaíso and cities in between (originally built in 1863). The new metro constitutes the so-called "fourth stage" ("Cuarta Etapa" in Spanish) of Metropolitan improvements. The metro railway extends along most of Gran Valparaíso and is the second metro system in operation in Chile (after Santiago's), and includes an underground section that crosses Viña del Mar's downtown.

Santiago Language Courses Valparaíso's twin city of Viña del Mar (Spanish: "Vineyard of the Sea") is also known locally as La Ciudad Jardín (Spanish: "The Garden City").

Viña del Mar is best known as a tourist and beach destination (with multiple beaches including Reñaca, Las Salinas, Miramar, Casino, and others). One of its key attractions are a gambling casino and a yearly music festival, Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar ("Viña del Mar International Song Festival"). The city also hosts a yearly ATP tennis tournament in clay courts (Movistar Open).

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Santiago Language Courses During Valparaíso's golden age (1848-1914), the city received large numbers of immigrants, primarily from Europe. The immigrant communities left a unique imprint on the city's architecture. Each community built its own churches and schools, while many also founded other noteworthy cultural and economic institutions. The largest immigrant communities came from England, Germany, and Italy, each developing their own hillside neighborhood, preserved today as National Historic Districts or "Zonas Típicas."

Valparaíso's newspaper, "El Mercurio de Valparaíso", is the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in circulation in the world.

Valparaíso is also home to the so called "School of Valparaíso", which is in fact the Faculty of Architecture & Urbanism of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. The "School of Valparaíso" is one of the most experimental, avant garde and controversial Architectural schools in the country.

Santiago Language Courses Valparaíso is the birthplace of many historically significant figures, including Augusto Pinochet, Salvador Allende, Sergio Badilla Castillo founder of poetic transrealism in contemporary poetry, Roberto Ampuero, author of the internationally published novels about the private eye Cayetano Brulé and "Hijo Ilustre" of Valparaíso, and Australia's third Prime Minister John Christian Watson as well as Tom Araya, vocalist of thrash metal band Slayer. It has also been the residence of many artists, such as Pablo Neruda and Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío.

Santiago Language Courses Nightlife activities in Valparaíso are claimed to be among the best in the country. Sailors favor the harbor sector because of the various traditional bars, among them, "Bar La Playa", "La Piedra Feliz," and "El Bar Inglés", which can be found near Plaza Sotomayor. University students now meet at a number of local nightclubs, bars, and discotheques. A vivid guide to Valparaíso can be found in the novels of Cayetano Brulé, the private detective who lives in a Victorian house, in the picturesque Paseo Gervasoni, on Cerro Concepción.

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Santiago Language Courses The climate of Central Chile is of temperate Mediterranean type, with the amount of rainfall increasing considerably and progressively from north to south. In the Santiago / Valparaíso area, the average monthly temperatures are about 19.5° C in the summer months of January and February and 7.5° C in the winter months of June and July. The average monthly precipitation is no more than a trace in January and February and 69.7 millimeters in June and July.

The annual mean temperatures in Santiago is 57° F (14° C) The temperate action of the ocean prevents temperatures from dropping drastically, and if snow falls in the area, it does not usually stay on the ground for more than a few hours. Winters are mild and summers are usually moderately hot and dry.

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