The site on which the city was founded back in 1541, Plaza de Armas is both the heart of Santiago de Chile’s historic district and the epicenter of the modern city. The leafy, palm-fringed plaza is surrounded by grand monuments and architectural landmarks, and it’s abuzz with activity at all hours of the day and night.
Whether you choose to explore the capital on a walking tour, cycle between the sights on a bike tour, or customize your own itinerary on a private tour, a Santiago city tour isn’t complete without a stop at the Plaza de Armas. Santiago tours often combine a half-day tour of the historic center with a cable car ride to the top of San Cristóbal Hill, a tour of the atmospheric Bellavista neighborhood, or wine tasting in the nearby Maipo Valley. If you prefer to explore at your own pace, hop-on hop-off bus tours also connect the Plaza de Armas with other Santiago attractions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Plaza de Armas is a must for all first-time visitors to Santiago.
- There are a number of cafés and restaurants around the square, but for budget options, try the surrounding streets.
- As in all large cities, keep an eye on your belongings—pickpockets are common around the square.
- The Plaza de Armas hosts various festivals, events, and markets throughout the year, including Santiago’s Independence Day celebrations.
- Santiago’s main tourist office is located at the north end of the square.
How to Get to There
Most of Santiago’s central attractions and hotels are within walking distance of the Plaza de Armas, and the towering spires of the plaza’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago (Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago) are hard to miss. Numerous buses stop on and around the square, while the closest metro station is Plaza de Armas on the L5 green line.
When to Get There
The Plaza de Armas is busy at any time of day or night, and if you’re staying in the city, you’ll likely pass through at several times during your stay. For crowd-free photos of the square’s buildings, an early morning visit is the best chance, while weekend afternoons are the liveliest time, with live musicians and street performers providing entertainment.
Plaza de Armas Landmarks
The magnificent 18th-century Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago stands proud at the northwestern edge of the square, opposite which is the Central Post Office (Edificio del Correo Central), housed in the stunning former Presidential Palace. Next door is another national monument, the neoclassical Town Hall, while just off the main square, the colonnaded facade of the 20th-century Palace of Justice (Palacio de los Tribunales de Justicia de Santiago) is another photo-worthy sight.