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Published on May 6, 2010
This is the world's oldest Spanish newspaper in circulation. And where is it printed? Right here, in Chile's port city, Valparaiso. Located 120 kilometers from Santiago, Valparaiso's population is about a quarter of a million. Valparaiso gained worldwide attention in the 19th century when it was a major port for sea trade between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Later, much of that activity shifted to the Panama Canal.
Valparaiso is still Chile's main port, but the reason you want to come here is because it is one of Chile's most picturesque and unique cities. The house are set up along the serros, or hills, and they are painted in bright color. We are going to walk up and check out the beautiful view at the top. It is not easy, considering that some hills at a 45 degree angle. All right. So I just made it to the top. It is an exhausting climb, but the view is well worth it. If you do not want to walk up the steep hill, you can take the elevator, or ascensore, for only a 100 pesos. There are 15 elevators, or funiculars, all around Valaparaiso and they are all declared world monuments.
During your walk you will come across some beautiful mansions, as well as some more modest homes. This building is Municipal Museum of belas artes, or fine arts, it is old, beautiful and unique. Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, has one of his house right here, in Valaparaiso. It is called Casa Museo la Sebastiana. Right now I am in front of Hotel Gran Gervasoni. It is built right into the hillside, and it is a great option to stay at. Another great option is to stay at antique houses that have been turned into bed and breakfasts. They come in all price ranges, but try to stay in one that is up on the hill and not in the center of town. It is more peaceful and the views are much better.
Valparaiso is famous all over Chile for its nightlife. A lot of bars can be found in Plaza Sotomayor, Cerro Bellavista, and downtown. Due to its beauty and Pablo Neruda, this city attracts lots of artists and writers. As you walk around the town, you will notice lots of murals and graffiti, which really make the city come alive with color. If you want to experience something really special, celebrate New Year's Eve right here, in Valparaiso. There is an excellent fireworks show, but be careful, you need to make your reservations months in advance. This is a safe city, but camera snatching is common, so watch out. Since Valaparaiso is such a unique city, it has been placed on UNESCO's world heritage list, and it is an important cultural center for Chile. I am Helia Goodman, showing you Valparaiso.