Almost all South American cities provide canvases for street artists. Occasionally prosecuted, sometimes only tolerated, but nowadays street art is often officially commissioned and provides artists with an income. The best from all countries now work internationally and have their art on walls of most major cities in the world.
When travelers think about street art in Chile most likely they think about the colorful port town of Valparaiso. But many artists from Valpo (as the locals call it) also find spaces in the capital Santiago to apply their work to.
INTI is one of the world famous street artists born in Valparaiso. The most prominent place in Santiago, where you can find his work, are two large side-by-side walls at a small square where you emerge from from the ‘Bellas Artes‘ subway station, near the city center.
One of the two murals by INTI on side-by-side walls at the entrance to the Bellas Artes Metro station.
|BONUS TIP: right opposite the entrance of the Bellas Artes Metro station you can indulge in the best artisanal ice cream in all of Santiago, at MO!|
You can see more of INTI’s art here.
In this post I would like to encourage visitors to leave the center of Santiago and explore some of the hotspots for street art – all within easy walking distance from the Plaza de Armas.
If you head west from the center and cross the Ruta 5 highway you will find yourself in the Barrio Brasil. Or you might even have booked accommodation there; it’s a nice, vibrant neighborhood, and a good alternative to staying in the more expensive central business district.
Some of the splendid old houses in Barrio Brasil are slowly being renovated. But many of them are still decorated with murals.
In the past, before the city expanded up the hills, this suburb was where wealthier people used to live. You can still see many facades, which show signs of the former wealth concentrated in this barrio. Now it’s a place where students share cheap flats. Of course, this also attracts a more vibrant nightlife.
Barrio Brasil probably has the highest density of outstanding street art per street block, and new works are constantly being added. Just stroll through the neighborhood and snap away. You’ll be surprised by the variety of styles you will discover.
A second place to discover some street art works is around San Pablo and the Central Market. They range from lots of coarse graffiti to some more detailed murals. But slowly (and sadly) more and more of the older houses disappear from this neighborhood, replaced by high-rise apartment buildings. And with them, the street art is diminishing too.
The third hotspot to look for street art in Santiago is in the Barrio Bellavista, right behind the Bellas Artes Metro station, mentioned earlier in this post. This neighborhood attracts more bohemian citizens and still maintains some tree lined streets with a few low-rise Art-Deco houses. It’s also the place to find good restaurants in Santiago.
You will find some large murals on facades of restaurants and bars in this neighborhood, but it’s actually best to stroll around on a Sunday or public holiday. The vast majority of quirky spray-painted art can be found on roller shutters of shops around this part of town – and them, you can only admire when everything is closed down!
So, if you’re one of those people who finds inspiration and happiness from well executed colorful street art, grab your camera and head to one of the graffiti hotspots in Santiago de Chile – you’ll be surprised what you will discover!
Just days after publishing this blog, National Geographic came out with their Best Trips Destinations for 2018, they must have read this!:)
This is only a partial view of an outrageous piece of maritime-inspired street art on a hostel wall in Barrio Brasil.
A very strange piece of street art in Barrio Brasil. Not the most appealing motif, but the near photo-realistic execution is outstanding.
Many good pieces of Santiago’s street art hide on roller doors of shops – you can only admire them when businesses are closed.
Many shop owners choose to pay artists to decorate their roller doors. This avoids unsightly vandalism from simple spray-can tagging.
A beautiful mural on the wall of a community center at Plaza Brasil.
Part of the facade of a private residence in a side street of Barrio Brasil. Most of this art is unfortunately partly hidden by a large tree in front.
A large mural, 4 storeys high, opposite Estación Mapocho near the San Pablo neighborhood. Artists: Colectivo Cenit y Ekeko
On this map of Santiago de Chile, I have highlighted the parts near the inner city, which I consider hotspots for street art.
A warehouse facade near Barrio Brasil, with a street art piece depicting a four-headed woman. I wonder what this is supposed to symbolize?
A nice street art piece by ‘Denst’ in the San Pablo neighborhood. “Once the last apple has disappeared from the tree you will find that money cannot be eaten” – very fitting for the rapid development in this part of town.
Many street artists in Santiago are game enough to include some kind of self-portrait in their work.
Guest writer: Juergen Klein of Dare2Go. Our travel blog is atypical because we travel differently, not flying from one dream destination to the next. Our choice instead: to take it slowly, take side roads, discover places aside from the typical “bucket list” and guidebook highlights. We drive and live in our self-built overland camper, called “Berta”.
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