Iquique - Photos: Jorge González
he city of Iquique
, which means “where the birds and the wolves sleep” in the primitive language, is the capital of the I Region.
It used to be part of Peru before the War of the Pacific. In November 23, 1879, the Chilean army managed to conquer it. Ever since, the city has been embellished by the success of saltpeter exploitation and commercial fishing and it has never stopped growing.
At present, not only is this the largest and most important city in Northern Chile, but it is also one of the most beautiful in the country. It lies 1,760 kilometers from Santiago de Chile
and 2,776 from the city of Puerto Montt
The political decision to turn Iquique into a tax-free area (where the so-called “Zofri”
operates today) led to economical growth and encouraged the creation of industries according to the new needs of the city. The only way out was the sea.
In the city, the beautiful beaches stand out: Cavancha Beach is the most famous due to its warm waters and palm trees, and Brava Beach is one of the most popular.
There is no better starting point for this city tour than Arturo Pratt Square, right in the center of the city. With its Clock Tower, an icon in Iquique, and along with the municipal theater and Baquedano Street, this beautiful public square displays the most ancient and precious architecture in the city. Walking along this street, we come across the Anker Nielsen Regional Museum, which takes visitors on a tour across the history of saltpeter in the entire region.
Going down towards the shore, the historical neighborhood –which lies in the surroundings of the port- stands out for its roofed pier and the tourist promenades that lead to the very place where the Chilean corvette called Esmeralda sank during the War of the Pacific (1879-1890). The Naval Museum, the former Customs building and the cathedral, as well as the port market where visitors may taste fresh fish and seafood, are located a few meters away.
Mount Dragón, a sand dune of several kilometers of length, watches the beauty of the city from the heights. Paragliders and Hang-gliders from all over the world jump from this hill into a flight across these majestic skies.
Nightlife is also present on the waterfront. The casino offers both games of chance and shows that are also performed at the pubs, restaurants and discos in this beautiful and booming city that has it all.