History of Puerto Varas

Puerto Varas is a city in southern Chile that lies on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. Its history dates back to 1852, when Vicente Pérez Rosales requested public funds to build a vessel and carry on with the colonization process in the area.

The then president -Manuel Montt- accepted the proposal and wired money to assemble the sloop called La Fundación (The Foundation). This ship would sail across the beautiful but still unexplored lake.

By 1853, the settlement of what would later become Puerto Varas began. Carried out mainly by German immigrants, later on, Austrian citizens joined in.

The name of the city is a tribute to Antonio Varas de la Barra, Chilean Secretary of the Interior in 1859, when several local jurisdictions were organized and defined.

In 1897, as a result of the demographic and building growth, Puerto Varas was given the title of "village", which ensured that an inspector should settle down there as the maximum authority in the area comprising Lake Todos Los Santos, the Osorno Volcano, Lake Llanquihue, the Maullín River, the Andes Mountain Range and the Arrayán River.

Almost thirty-eight years later, Puerto Varas became a community. By then, the city had already adopted a clear and early tourist profile, in which both authorities and neighbors took part quite enthusiastically.

A mandatory pass to reach San Carlos de Bariloche, in Argentina, already during the early twentieth century, the city had travel agencies. And in 1934, the luxurious Gran Hotel Puerto Varas was built and its remarkable garden was designed by Oscar Prager.

The sadly famous earthquake of 1960 destroyed a large part of Puerto Varas, also causing a significant number of victims. Nevertheless, it continued to be a highly booming city. In fact, only ten years afterwards the casino was inaugurated, which operated in the facilities of the Gran Hotel.

Puerto Varas lies just 17 kilometers away from Puerto Montt, where many local denizens commute every day. However, the typical constructions, the view of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano, which lies 60 kilometers away, turn Puerto Varas into a unique site in southern Chile.