Punta Arenas and Patagonia

Description

Punta Arenas has a population of 123.041 inhabitants, is the oldest and largest city of Patagonia. It was founded in 1848 along the Strait of Magellan, the largest natural sea passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a crossroad for ancient sailors, pirates and now, almost extinct aboriginal tribes.

The rich history of Punta Arenas has resulted in a fascinating nineteenth century architecture. Around the main square there are buildings that stand out like the cathedral, the Government House, the traditional Cabo de Hornos Hotel, Sara Braun Palace and José Menéndez Residence. All of them have been declared National monuments. The past of these mansions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, is closely related to the origins of the southern population. The former mansion of Sara Braun, houses today the Hotel José Nogueira, superbly set in the heroic age of the pioneers, but with all the comforts of modern high standard hospitality.

Located opposite of the famous “Munoz Gamero” Square, the palace was built between 1895 and 1905, design by the French architect Numa Mayer, hired by Sara Braun after the death of her husband, the successful Portuguese businessman José Nogueira.

The building has a neoclassical style, with bricks masonry on top of a stones foundation. This two stories mansions had on its first floor the music hall, the golden room, dining room and billiards room, while on the second floor the bedrooms and the library where located. Materials, furniture and decorative objects were brought from Europe.

History

In 1520 the Strait of Magellan was discovered, becoming the main route between Europe and the Pacific Ocean. The name was given in honor of its discoverer, the Portuguese Don Hernando de Magallanes.

In 1843, the Chilean government sent an expedition to colonize the region, founding Fort Bulnes. Punta Arenas was originally a military fort. In December 1848, by order of the Governor José Santos Mardones, the residents of Fort Bulnes migrated to where the city is located now. The plan was to guarantee the presence of the Chilean State over the Strait of Magellan by taking the better conditions that this area offered, essentially for its water and wood provisions, ensuring subsistence needs of the population.

By 1870, intense livestock activities got build up, promoting the arrival of European immigrants (Swiss, Galician, Croats and Slavs, among others), who quickly joined the task of strengthening the village. Punta Arenas was also, since the start a major penal colony.

The criminal character of town survived until 1867, when the President José Joaquín Pérez made a new colonization policy for foreign immigrants, declaring Punta Arenas a “free port”. This started the growth of Magallanes, in particular with the arrival of foreign colonizers who started all kinds of commercial establishments. Steam navigation avoided the disadvantages of the Straits crossing, increasing the vessels traffic and rising the interest of the central government for the Magellan Region.

Weather

Punta Arenas can be visited all year round.

The city average annual rain fall is 425mm, concentrated during spring and summer, winter is present with snow and temperatures dropping below 0 º C.

This area presents constant winds, becoming stronger during spring and summer. During summertime the average temperatures oscillates in between 14 and 20 º C

One characteristic of the southern climate is the oscillation of day light hours, been reduced in winter and everlasting long in summer, reaching 18 hours approx. of daylight during December, a perfect moment to enjoy the city and its attractions.

Location

Thanks to its commercial, cultural and social development, Punta Arenas has succeeded in making itself known throughout the country, and as it counts with a tax free zone, allowing visitors of the city to purchase imported products with lower taxes, making Punta Arenas an ideal place to go shopping, finding some excellent opportunities.

Getting into Punta Arenas from Santiago it’s possible by air, flying with Lan and Sky Airlines, from Argentina by land, crossing the international path of Monte Aymond and San Sebastian, and from Puerto Montt and Puerto Williams by sea, taking a ferry.

The city can be visited all year round. During wintertime the ski season is open at the Club Andino ski center, and during spring and summer, the visits to the penguin colonies of Magellanic penguin in Isla Magdalena and Otway Sound are available, also all year round is possible to visit the small colony of beautiful King Penguin, find at Tierra del Fuego. Apart from this, inside the tax free commercial center there´s an indoor ice skating rink, open all year round, as well as the rich Patagonian cuisine waiting to be enjoyed, (traditional Patagonian lamb barbecues, king crab, in between other traditional dishes). Even for those who want to visit the Torres del Paine National Park, staying one or two nights is highly recommended in order to explore the charms of the city.

Punta Arenas’ Points of Interest

This colorful Magellan city invites you to enchant yourself with its various museums, gardens and beautiful views, as well as to enjoy the delicacies of the sea. Discover the treasures and charms of the southern Patagonia Capital.

Surroundings and Patagonia

If you are so in love with nature as we are in Punta Arenas, prepare your camera, the surrounding region will seem so fascinating that you won’t stop pressing the button.

Surroundings

Cruceros a la Antártica

La Antártida es una maravilla ecológica que hechizó a exploradores, científicos y viajeros por igual durante dos siglos. Este fascinante…
Surroundings

King Penguin Park

This private park is located on the island of Tierra del Fuego, by Bahia Inutil or “Useless Bay”, Chilean Patagonia,…
Surroundings

Cabo Froward

Antiguamente llamado Morro de Santa Águeda, es el punto más austral de la masa continental de América. Se encuentra a…
Surroundings

Mount Tarn

This mount is known for the ascension done by Charles Darwin, father of the evolution theory who explored these lands…
Surroundings

Club Andino

Próximo a la ciudad, se encuentra ubicado el centro invernal del Club Andino de Punta Arenas, lugar que exhibe una…
Surroundings

Isla Magdalena

This wildlife area was declared National Park and designated Natural Monument since 1982. It aims to protect the birds’ fauna…