Viña del Mar

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Viña del Mar

On Chile's central coast, Viña del Mar, or "Vineyard of the Sea," is among the most popular resort cities in Latin America. With a population of approximately 330,000 (est. 2007), it boasts more than a dozen beaches, many cultural activities and attractions, picturesque views, a renowned casino, and fine dining. Spanish settlers arrived in the area—called Peuco by its indigenous inhabitants—in the sixteenth century, establishing two haciendas (agricultural estates) where the city is today: the Hacienda Viña del Mar and the Hacienda Las Siete Hermanas. The area, which was under the civil authority of the neighboring port city of Valparaíso, remained largely rural and agricultural until the nineteenth century, when an important rail line was constructed linking the central coast and Santiago, the capital. Economic growth followed, and in 1878 Viña del Mar became an independent municipality. It became a center of industry as the turn of the century approached, hosting a number of important foreign-owned and operated companies. It was not until the 1930s that Viña del Mar emerged as a top tourist destination with the opening of the famed Municipal Casino, the O'Higgins Hotel, and a presidential retreat in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Viña del Mar's weather is strikingly similar to that of California's central and northern coasts. It is not surprising, then, that one of Viña del Mar's sister cities is Sausalito, California, near San Francisco. Viña del Mar is also known as the "Garden City" and each February plays host to one of the hemisphere's largest music festivals.


Larraín de Castro, Carlos J. Viña del Mar. Santiago: Editorial Nascimento, 1946.

Vicuña Mackenna, Benjamín. Crónicas viñamarinas. Valparaíso: Talleres Gráficos Salesianos, 1931.

                                    Patrick Barr-Melej