The metropolis on the Pacific Ocean stretches across 45 hills. Its colorful houses, which seem to stick to the hillsides, have been immortalized on countless postcards and should not be missing in any illustrated book about Chile. It is even more impressive to get to know this World Heritage Site personally.
When arriving at the bus station in the middle of the bustling port city, there is not much to indicate that the terrain is hilly. One has to walk a little and ask around until one finally stands at one of the 15 funiculars that drive up the hills. The about 100 years old creaking constructions rumble up and down the slopes, partly across the courtyards of houses. Those who venture into these lift veterans are rewarded with a magnificent view of the natural bay and the sea. Alternatively, one can of course also take the stairs: Already the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is said to have been fascinated by the many stairs in the city.
European and North American visitors are particularly enthusiastic about the variety of colours and the ailing charm of the buildings (many Chileans and other South Americans like it a little more chic). Narrow, often steep alleys, houses of every colour, playing children and dogs that are scurrying around make sure that you don’t have to plug in your camera at all. But sometimes you wonder how the partly poor corrugated iron huts and rickety wooden houses could survive so long in the earthquake area. And how the inhabitants, who do not seem to have much money, manage their everyday life …
The most beautiful hill of „Valpo“ (Valparaíso) is the „Cerro Alegre“ (happy hill) with its old town quarter. Many domestic and foreign artists, musicians and students lived – and still live – here. The colourful houses are partly restored, there are small cafés, restaurants, pubs and great shops with handmade souvenirs and clothes of local designers.
But Chile’s cultural capital has even more to offer: Very interesting is for example „La Sebastiana“, one of the three houses of Pablo Neruda in Chile, which tells a lot about the all-round genius. The „Galería Municipal de Arte“ (Municipal Art Gallery) houses works by top-class Chilean artists. In the Sea and Maritime Museum, housed in a large neoclassical building, you can learn more about the eventful history of the port and the fleet.