Chillán hides an amazing history of foundations and new foundations.
In 1579, the first regional fort was founded in order to defend the Spaniards from Indian raids. It was the time in which the Spanish conquest was spreading. A year later, in June 26, 1580, governor don Martín Ruiz de Gamboa founded the city with the name of Chillán and ever since, the city was destroyed and rebuilt several times.
In 1751, don Domingo Ortiz de Rozas ordered that the city should be moved to Arco de la Horca, a place where the community of Old Chillán stands today. This site was chosen for its height, which would prevent the city from flooding when the volume of the rivers bordering the city increased. But the 1835 earthquake destroyed it completely and the then president of the nation, don Joaquín Prieto, passed a decree to move the new city to the spot where it stands at present. Nevertheless, many inhabitants resolved to stay and, therefore, the new city and the old city (which years later came to be widely known as “Old Chillán”) began to grow sharing their boundaries, which were now political.
But it was the 1939 earthquake which caused the most significant damage in the region. The city was practically destroyed. This event, along with the consequences from the 1960 earthquake, may have led to most institutions and public buildings being now modern earthquake-proof constructions.