Originally constructed between 1905 and 1912, the Mapocho Station was once the heart of Chile's massive, efficient railway system. The beautiful building was all but abandoned after the Valparaiso train shuddered to a stop in 1987, but was restored to its former elegance, complete with a copper roof, in the 1990s.
Today the Mapocho Station is the country's most important cultural center, its spacious interior hosting all sorts of art exhibits, performances, and other cultural activities throughout the year. From highbrow (symphonies, operas) to low (animatronic dinosaurs), there's something for everyone at this iconic Santiago institution.
The Mapocho Station lies at the heart of what was once quite an elegant neighborhood, centered on Iglesia Santo Domingo. Architecture and history buffs will enjoy wandering around, and perhaps visiting Santiago's Central Market. The scene is now a tad scruffy, but the shady park filled with buskers and artisan vendors is a fine place to relax.
While this is a relatively good driving neighborhood, the easiest access is by metro; take the yellow L2 line to the Puente Cal y Canto station. The Spanish-language website has information on upcoming events and exhibitions; click "Centro Cultural" on the home page, then "Cartelera" for an illustrated schedule.