Valparaiso’s amazing StreetArt on this self-guided walk
Recently our friend, Pete from Sydney, joined us for a 9-day visit in Chile . Since he’s also interested in street art, we decided to take him to Valparaíso, one of our favourite cities. But street art is only part of what makes Valpo (as the locals call it) so special. Somehow it’s just one of those cities in the world which you have to love – for its eclectic mix of old and new, its vibrant downtown and steep, sleepy hillsides, its unique funiculars, and its abundance of “almost fallen down, but not quite” structures…
We’ve published several StreetArt galleries from Valparaiso before and have been back a couple of times since. You see: this city has a hold on us! But I had a number of very nice surprises this time when I discovered new art work in places we had visited late last year.
This post will be slightly different from my previous ones as I concentrate on one area only, which you can explore on foot. It’s an easy walk, with stunning vistas on a clear day, no climbing, only some steep downhill sections (which can be hard on the old knees too – but I promise, you’ll be distracted!). If you want to take your time with photographs, then plan on at least 1½ to 2 hours, allowing for a short rest along the way. Late morning is probably the best time for this tour, as many walls face east or are otherwise shaded in the afternoon (as you can see from my photos).
After Santiago we were all a little on the slow side, so I suggested we be lazy and share a taxi up the hill to one of my favourite street art galleries along Avenida Alemania. The taxi cost us roughly $5 – not a bad deal considering how steep it is to get up to Monte Alegre.
Take your time, be curious, look for hidden things, and enjoy yourself!
Once you arrive, make sure that you first walk around the small, triangular plaza and explore its side streets (eg Monte Alegre a little downhill) where you will find some outstanding murals! If you’re hungry, we recommend La Cocó Sangucheria Artesanal for their sumptuous vegetarian sandwiches.
Next, cross the bridge from where you can see a row of houses on the hill, almost every one set on top of its own retaining wall with colourful street art. It was here that I first discovered several art pieces which had not been there eight months before.
Follow Avenida Alemania to the left (roughly north) as it winds along the hill. In several places it affords some stunning views across rusty tin roofs, out to the harbour of Valparaiso. And don’t forget to peek through gates or photograph some of the classic corrugated iron facades – all part of this unique city.
New StreetArt works along Avenida Alemania
Others are featured in our previous gallery, linked above.
Once you reach Cerro Abajo with its small park, just past the Liceo Pedro Montt, it’s time to go downhill along Calle Cumming. But don’t miss the colourful art works below the park, down from the retaining wall. Cerro Abajo is the hill from where, once a year, fearless (or stupid?) mountain bikers race down the steep streets towards the city centre; this has become a famous event.
You’ll walk past Parque Cultural de Valparaíso (free access) in the converted old prison of the city. Next you’ll reach Cementerio #2 (main gates are unfortunately locked), where you keep to the right, downhill towards Calle Ecuador. Along this stretch you find a row of houses, each with art in very different styles.
Further down along Ecuador it’s worthwhile to scout some of the side streets for more wall art. The lower section of Ecuador is where some of Valpo’s night life happens. You might even decide to stop here and have drink or a bite to eat. This is anyhow where our walk ends. When the bars and restaurants are closed their roller doors usually provide just another “canvas” for street art.
Only a fraction of the StreetArt we discovered going downhill from Cerro Abajo.
The part of town described in this article is not covered by any of Valpo’s city tours. We published another gallery of 23 StreetArt photos which we took during our guided walking tour around Valparaíso. Plus previously we have published two other street art galleries from Valparaíso: this gallery and this gallery – all together around 100 photos!
This walking tour should give a good cross section of street art styles found in Valparaíso. If you would like to learn more about various styles of street art and graffiti I highly recommend this page by a small business in Valpo – they run street art tours in town. The part of town, which our tour covers, is quite safe. To see street art in outlaying suburbs (which can be a bit rough), and learn more about various styles and artists, you might want to join a group tour through the business linked above (we haven’t been on any of their tours, so we have no personal experience).
Which piece of wall art do you like the best? Please tell us in the ‘comments’ below!
For StreetArt Galleries from other parts of South America please visit our dedicated category with all posts.