History of Santiago

According to archeological research, around 800, several native communities who chose the area of the Mapocho River settled down in the area now occupied by the territory of Santiago. They would produce corn, potato and beans and raise livestock.

According to records from the XV century, these communities –especially the “pichinchas” tribe- made great progress in agriculture, as they would irrigate their crops through artificial channels. Having no stable political organization, confrontations amongst the tribes were usual. These disputes ended when the territory was conquered by the Inca Empire during Cápac’s reign in the late XV century.

The arrival of the Spanish led to great upheavals. It was February 12, 1541 when Pedro de Valdivia founded the City of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo. He named it after the military protector of the Spanish in their fight for conquest and the Patron Saint of Spain, Apostle James.

Pursuant to the legislation in force, Pedro de Valdivia commanded the layout of the new city to master builder Pedro de Gambia, who designed the city in the shape of a checkers board. He placed the main square in the center and the plots for the cathedral, the jail and the governor’s house around it.

When Valdivia left to the Arauco War, the city was left unprotected and subject to Indian raids. Afterwards, it was rebuilt but it was affected by the forces of nature as an earthquake hit the city in 1552.

After these inconveniences, the immigration quickly began to populate the city. The first important buildings in the city began to be erected, amongst which the construction of the first cathedral built in stone and Saint Francis’ church in the southern border of town stood out in 1561.

In 1647, a new earthquake hit the city, which was practically destroyed. Once again, Santiago was raised again. It began to recover and keep a constant growth pace.

The features of a quiet town began to vanish with the advent of the XVIII century. In 1780, the Italian architect Joaquín Toesca was in charge of carrying out the construction of a series of important government buildings, such as the Mint.

In the XIX century, the revolutionary movements in America were beginning to be conceived, and Chile and Santiago were part of them. In 1810, the First National Government Assembly, whose seat was in the City of Santiago, was proclaimed.

The accelerated growth of the capital city continued at great speed. However, in 1822 and 1835 two new earthquakes hit the area. In 1851, on the other hand, the first system of telegraphs was established. It connected the capital with the port of Valparaíso.

During Benjamín Vicuña Mackena’s administration, Santiago experienced a new urban development. Mount Santa Lucía was remodeled and architectural works were designed following the Neo-classical European trends.

As regards means of transportation, the city welcomed its first railway line in September 14, 1857 in the brand-new Central Station at Santiago. The rest of the streets were paved and suitable for the use of private vehicles and tramways.

With the arrival of the XX century, the city began to experience various changes related to industry. Towards 1910, the main banks and commercial stores were established in the streets downtown. With the aim of celebrating the first centenary of the Republic, many urban works were carried out in Santiago which remain today. New railway lines and access routes to the city were created. Parque Forestal was opened and the new Fine Arts Museum was opened. Important public works, such as the sewage system, were performed.

Rural immigration increased as from 1930, which determined the population growth and the transformation of the city into an industrious capital.

At present, Santiago is the most important cultural, administrative and financial center and city in Chile.