Metropolitan Cathedral picture
Sejio74/Shutterstock

Key Info

Plaza de Armas

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Churches/Religious Sites, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Flanking the western edge of the Plaza de Armas, this neoclassical cathedral has a history that stretches back to 1541 when Spanish conquistador and city founder Pedro de Valdivia requested a place of worship be constructed at the edge of Santiago's colonial square. However, a fire tore through the first structure, and two buildings constructed in its place were destroyed after major earthquakes in 1647 and 1730. The towering cathedral that stands today underwent construction around 1750, and in the 1780s, Italian architect Joaquín Toesca added a new twist: a blend of neoclassical style with baroque elements. The result is an interior that boasts intricate stained-glass windows and an elaborate altar ornamented with marble and deep blue lapis lazuli.

Although you'll have to battle dense crowds to experience this site, recent visitors agree that the cathedral is a must-see site. "Do not miss this beautiful cathedral. Everything is just stunning, from the floor tiles to the frescoed ceilings," raved one TripAdvisor user.

Visitors are welcome to explore the church for free from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays. Depending on when you visit, you may encounter Mass; be respectful of ongoing religious services by keeping your voice down and your camera flash off. You'll find the cathedral bordering the Plaza de Armas in Santiago's central district. To reach the cathedral, take Line 5 to the Plaza de Armas metro station.

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