The aboriginal people of the zone called the Santa Lucia Hill “Huelen”, that in Mapudungun means pain or sadness. Its current name dates from 1540 when Pedro de Valdivia took possession of the place on December 13, day that commemorates Saint Lucia.
The hill is located in the core of Santiago, Chile, Metropolitan Region, bordering on the south with the Avenue Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins and to the north with Merced Street, between the Santa Lucia and Victoria Subercaseaux streets.
The Santa Lucia Hill has been present in the urban history of the capital city of Chile for more than 460 years; it has an approximate height of 69 meters and a largeness of 65 thousand 300 square meters.
The climate of the city of Santiago is moderate warm, with winter rains, which reach an annual average of 350 mm., and a long dry station. This climate is also called continental Mediterranean. The average temperature during summer stations is of 20ºC, whereas the average at winter stations is of 8ºC.
History of the Santa Lucia Hill
Pedro de Valdivia took possession of the hill on December 13, 1540, baptizing it as Cerro Santa Lucia, the natives of the zone called it “Huelen” (sadness). The conquerors were using this hill as a lookout and a defensive enclave.
It was here where Pedro de Valdivia founded, on February 12, 1541, the city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura. From there diverse companies were constructed in the sector, as the first mills and the first vineyard of Chile.
In 1872 the local structure began to change, due to the afforestation and decoration of the rock, the first actions to turn the city into one of European style. Like this, were patios, castles, staircases and dense floral gardens constructed.
On December 16, 1983 was the hill declared a National Monument, by decree of the Department of Public Education.
The Santa Lucia Hill lived an epoch of decline, which finished in the decade of the 90 with the construction of a fence in the walk, an elevator on the summit and the recovery of the Hidalgo Castle, which currently is an event center. Since then, the hill has undergone more restorations.
Flora and Fauna
In general, the flora of the Metropolitan Region is constituted mainly by sclerophyllous forest, of trees and shrubs resistant to droughts. Among the plant species that can be in this place are the cinnamon tree, boldo, Lithraea caustica, Soap bark tree, Maytenus boaria and the peumo, among others.
The fauna of this region is quite scarce due to the big quantity of urban zones, which endanger the survival of many animals. Among the species of the locality we can find to the grey long-eared bat, the Elegant Fat-tailed Mouse Opossum, Andean Vesper Mouse, the Long-tailed Colilargo, the vizcacha, the culpeo and the colocolo.
Also, there are species that were introduced to the area as the rabbit, water rat, Monk parakeet, African frog, quail and the yellowjacket.
Attractions of the Santa Lucia Hill
Nowadays the Santa Lucia Hill is one of the main panoramic lookouts that allow glimpsing the city of Santiago, in addition to being an ideal stroll for the family and the tourists, richly in history and culture.
Inside the hill, some of the places that can be visited are the Jardín Circular (Circular Garden) and the Mirador (Lookout), the first one is a picturesque square surrounded with flowers and vegetation, while the second one is a patio that grants a spectacular sight of the beautiful of the capital scenery.
Likewise, it is necessary to visit the Hidalgo Castle, place that works as an event center. The place is surrounded by beautiful gardens, fountains and patios, which grant the place a special charm. It also works as an Exhibition Center of Indigenous Art.
It is also possible to find monuments here, such as the monument of Pedro de Valdivia, the monument of the Archbishop Manuel Vicuña Larrainque and the monument dedicated to the atheistic and suicidal Protestants.
But undoubtedly, if you have a chance, it is better to go up the hill at midday, when the “of the 12-gun salute” can be heard. This is a tradition from 1825, being a sign for the people of Santiago that it was time to have lunch and mass.
Other beautiful tourist attractions that can be visited are the Arco del Triunfo, the old road of the Railroad, the Terraza de Neptuno and La Alameda.
How to get here
The first thing is to access to the city of Santiago by air, the flights arrive in the International Airport Arturo Merino Benítez. From there, it is necessary to take locomotion, buses or taxis, which come up to Santa Lucia Hill or which connect to the most nearby subway, which has the same name of the hill.