The Chilean building boom of the late 1800s, spurred by rising silver, copper, and nitrite prices worldwide, inspired some of the city's most marvelous architecture. Grand palaces, their stern neoclassical facades fashionably adorned touches of baroque and art nouveau frill. The finest of them all is at the heart of the ritzy Calle Dieciocho neighborhood, the Cousiño Palace.
The mansion was designed by architect Paul Lathoud for the Cousiño Goyenechea family, a prominent clan who owned everything from the famed Cousiño-Macul Vineyards, to assorted coal and silver mines. The French-inspired building often draws comparisons to Versailles, and has hosted foreign dignataries from Marshal Tito to Queen Elizabeth.
Today, you can tour its soaring marble halls and twelve sumptuously decorated rooms, each offering a glimpse into the lives of the Chilean aristocracy during those heady boom years.
On the southern border of Santiago's historic center, close to the University of Chile, lies the once opulent neighborhood called Calle Dieciocho. It's more maneuverable in a car than the narrow, congested streets immediately surrounding Plaza de Armas, seven very pretty blocks away. Still, it's much more convenient for most people to take the L2 yellow line to the Toesca station.
You must visit on a 45-minute guided tour, which are offered throughout the day. Most guides speak both Spanish and English.