The Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago de Chile - the seat of the Chilean President - is considered a master piece of civil neoclassical architecture in Latin America, but in Chile, the palace is far more than just another government building. For Chileans, it symbolizes freedom and democracy.
The picture on the top left is a well known shot of this building in 1973 right at the moment the military coup forces were bombing the presidential headquarters and killing inside President Allende. I managed to photograph this shot myself on the sly at the National Historic Museum.
As for the picture on the top right, I took it last summer on an early morning after a heavy rainy week in the city. The square in front of the palace was flooded and reflections in the water had created an improvised beautiful and contrasting composition of the building.
The building looks pretty unusual in both pictures as none of these two situations happen every day, but to illustrate this page, I chose particularly these two because they show well how much this country has changed during this period of time. The terrible dictatorship that followed the coup d'état of 1973 is finally over and it is just part of history in the museums, while in recent years a new Chile has emerged to become a prosperous and an exemplary democracy in the Continent.
The rest of the pictures here are all from Chile as well. I entered the country through Atacama in the north and travel all the way down to the capital before starting my way up again to cross into Peru.
In the city of Santiago, I managed to experience Chile as a very modern and dynamic country. The capital was actually very good fun. It is a very cosmopolitan and lively place that deeply contrasted with my view of towns up north in the copper mining regions of the country. Although essential to understand Chilean strategic geographical and economic advantage throughout history, the northern towns seem all kind of bleak and forgotten in that rich but arid desert.
However, my favourite place in Chile has to be the port of Valparaiso. Famous for its hillside elevators, this colourful city is a delighting town packed with little cafes and hidden corners all of them offering fantastic views over the Pacific.
It is here as well as all along the extensive coast line of Chile where each day ends and one can enjoy the sun displaying a magnificent final sunset.