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Around Gabriela’s Town

Marcelo Sola Marcelo Sola

We walked along the streets of Vicuña to see the sights. A tour around the town that witnessed the birth of famous poet Gabriela Mistral.

City Tour around Vicuña

The sun never ceases to be warm at Vicuña. Land of the eternal blue skies, with at least 300 sunny days a year, it invites visitors to go on a tour around the city to discover its architecture, its history, its sceneries and its people. Here is what we liked best about the main city in the Valley of Elqui.

Vicuña features several interesting sites. The most outstanding include its beautiful main square with ancient trees, sculptures and motifs dedicated to its most admired child: poet Gabriela Mistral. The Church of Mary’s Immaculate Conception stands opposite the square. It is considered one of the most beautiful temples in the Chilean Near North. It was built on the same spot where the ancient Church of Mercy used to be located. On the ceiling of the main aisle, visitors may observe the religious paintings made with earthy colors by the students of the Santiago School of Fine Arts. The temple preserves the baptistry where Gabriela was baptized.

City Tour around Vicuña

Almost diagonally from the church, opposite the square, a strange wooden building whose architecture does not belong to the local style stands out. This is the Bauer Tower, whose construction was ordered by former mayor Adolfo Bauer, after whom it was called. A traditional symbol of Vicuña, it is a replica of a group of towers located in the City of Ulm, Germany. It houses the Municipal Tourist Office, open all year round to provide visitors with information about the local attractions and tourist services, the Valley of Elqui and the region in general.

Another must visit is the House of Culture and the Public Library. It used to be Vicuña’s Escuela Superior de Niñas, where Lucila de María Godoy Alcayaga, later known as Gabriela Mistral, took her studies in 1900. This place presents varied art exhibitions, lectures and cultural forums all year round.

Next to the House of Culture, on Chacabuco Street, stands the Entomological and Natural History Museum, which houses an important private collection: fossils, butterflies, beetles, sea shells and birds from the valley. As well, it offers an interesting lecture addressed specially to students.

City Tour around Vicuña

Opposite the main square, we find the Pueblito de Artesanos de Vicuña, where local craftsmen offer their crafts featuring the most diverse characteristics as they do their best to produce beautiful souvenirs.

At 96 Arturo Pratt Street, lies the access to Elqui’s Historical Museum. It houses a collection of antiques from ancient Vicuña and from other points in the country. It possesses an interesting exhibition of authentic diaguita pottery, with pieces found in the area.

Another mandatory stop is at the famous Gabriela Mistral Museum. It was built in 1971 in the place where the poet was born. It presents documents, books, photographs and furniture used by the writer at several moments in her life. Next to the museum, there is a recreation of her birthplace, with objects and furniture that would belong to Gabriela.

On the same street lies the Madariagas Solar House Museum, which shows what the ancient residences of Vicuña used to be like, with their furniture, portraits and objects typical of the past of Elqui.

City Tour around Vicuña

Leaving the city behind and after about 2 kilometers, the Mount of the Virgin of Lourdes is accessed. This is a natural vantage point from where a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the valley may be appreciated. An ideal place for photographs.

A little farther away, on the road to Peralillo, 4 kilometers away from Vicuña, visitors find the facilities where the famous Pisco Capel is produced in its multiple varieties that have made the Valley of Elqui so famous. A tour around the venue enables people to see the entire process of making pisco, as well as taste and purchase products and souvenirs at the sales room. Likewise, the Museum of Pisco tells the story of this ancient activity in Elqui and features a room for cultural events. Open all year round from 9:30am to 6pm, it offers tours every half hour.

Finally, we arrived in another icon of Vicuña. Famous for being practically the only one in its kind with the gates open to tourists, the Mount Mamalluca Astronomical Observatory, owned by the municipality of Vicuña, lies 9 kilometers to the North of the city center. It offers one of the most precious gifts this area can have: the clearest skies in the world and a marvelous journey during which visitors may enjoy a pleasant night. It is necessary to make a prior reservation from the center of Vicuña to visit this place.

City Tour around Vicuña

Thus, the city has been presented. Every meter is undoubtedly packed with stories and memories awaiting tourists to unveil them once more. An interesting way to understand the idiosyncrasy and the ways of thought of its inhabitants.

Welcome Chile - Outings in Vicuña
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from 4 to 6 hours



Tour type


Useful Data

How to get there

The community of Vicuña lies 62 kilometers to the East of La Serena along CH 41.

Bear in mind

It is ideal to start the tour in the morning so as to enjoy the city center. After lunch, the second part of the circuit includes a visit to the mount of the Virgin, the Capel facilities and, in the evening, the Mamalluca Observatory.

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