Valdivia is the capital of the 14th Region de Los Rios. Located at the confluence of the Valdivia River, Calle Calle, CauCau and Cruces River, as well as limiting to the west with the Pacific Ocean..
The climate of the area is oceanic, with the presence of exuberant vegetation which is known as the Valdivian forests. Rainfall is abundant and more frequently during the winter months: May, June and July. The average temperature in Valdivia is 12° C.
It is a beautiful city, similar to "Venice" by the large number of channels that cross it. In this pace there is a Fluval Fair and Paseo Costanera, in front of the Calle Calle River, where you can see the crafts and cuisine of the area. The Museo Municipal (Municipal Museum) is another attraction of the area, because of its architecture and dynamic shops.
Valdivia is a tourist zone, especially in summer, where fun activities are performed such as the Semana Valdiviana (Valdivian Week). Among its attractions are many natural areas such as Oncol Park and the town of Corral featuring the Balneario de Niebla (Fog Spa), famous for the presence of forts and Spanish castles, built in the colonial era.
It also has a unique culture, with varied traditions and rooted identity, corresponding to a mixture of Mapuche customs with a strong European influence by Spanish and German immigrants who settled in the area. Therefore, it is considered a bohemian city with a great deal of places and landscapes to enjoy the nightlife.
Another of their traditions is the production of craft beers, such as the ones that are elaborated in the German factory Kunstmann, which offers tours, a restaurant where you can taste different flavors and a gift shop.
Valdivia has many cultural and artistic events that have been taking place as of many years such as La Semana Valdiviana (Valdivian Week) during the month of February, the International Film Festival of Valdivia; the Lluvia de Teatro, the AI-Maako International Electroacoustic Music Festival, among others.
The city boasts the renowned Universidad Austral de Chile, which in turn has several museums such as the Museo Histórico y Antropológico Maurice van de Maele (Maurice van de Maele Museum of History and Anthropology) and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Valdivia (Museum of Contemporary Art of Valdivia). Besides this, in the city there is the Museo y Archivo Valdivia 1960, Earthquake and Tsunami, where the nature of these natural phenomena is explained and there are records illustrating the effects of the event that took place in the area during that year.
Valdivia was the first city founded by the Spaniards in Chile. In 1552 the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia named this city Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia and was considered a strategic location in the South for its outlet to the Pacific Ocean.
The first settlers in the area were a Mapuche-huilliche people known as Ainil. After its founding as a Spanish city a rapid development began for its seaport. However, the city was hit by an earthquake in 1575 and then recaptured by the Indians in the Batalla de Curalaba (Battle of Curalaba) in 1598 that destroyed the city in 1599.
After this and a raid by the Dutch in the territory, during 1645 the Spanish began restocking and the Fuerte de Mancera (Fort Mancera) was built. At the end of the eighteenth century and because of the strategic importance of the zone in the southern tip of the continent, the Camino Real, which linked Valdivia and Chiloe by land was built.
Valdivia Bay, called Corral, was fortified with a broad defense system consisting of 17 forts built to withstand the siege of pirates and Dutch and English privateers, which failed to enter the city to plunder it.
Later, and after the independence of Chile, a process of attracting German immigrants to the area was made, as it was thought that their presence could positively influence the development of the area. New settlers arrived with technology for the industry, developed farmlands and brought their culture and traditions to the identity of the city.
Valdivia became an important port because of its location near one of the few navigable rivers in Chile, which allowed the building of large ports.
The city is also known for being protagonist of the Valdivia Earthquake on May 22, 1960, the largest seismic event recorded by modern instruments, with more than 10 degrees on the Richter scale. It was so intense that it caused tsunamis along the coasts of Japan and Hawaii and changed the geography of the city, flooding some areas, so the river was no longer usable for navigation to the sea.
In 2007, the new Región de los Ríos was created, comprising the provinces of Valdivia and Ranco and where Valdivia is the capital city.
Where to go
Mercado Fluvial de Valdivia: (Fluvial de ValdiviaMarket)
This place is located on the Costanera Artura Prat, close to the Cathedral and Pedro de Valdivia Bridge, which connects the city with Isla Teja, on the river banks of Valdivia. It has crafts, restaurants and all kinds of merchandise. It is a National Monument of Chile.
Mercado Municipal de Valdivia: (Municipal Market of Valdivia)
It is another place where you have to learn about the local cuisine and its seafood, such as fish and shellfish plus crafts of Mapuche influence. Also during the summer it hosts the Book Fair.
It's where all the boats that bring marine and agricultural products sold in the Fluvial de Valdivia Fair. It is also the starting point of the motor boats that carry passengers that circuit through the Calle Calle and Valdivia Rivers.
Costanera de Valdivia:
It is a pedestrian trip for vehicles that travels along the residential area of Valdivia along the Calle Calle River. Through it you access the Muelle Schuster (Schuster Pier) and Municipal Market. Here you can enjoy water activities.
Isla Teja: (Teja Island)
This small island has 15 square kilometers. It joins the city of Valdivia through the Pedro de Valdivia Bridge. It bears this name since this was the place where they built factories that produced tiles and bricks for the ports of the corral and the two towers of Valdivia, called the Canelo and Barro.
Museo Histórico y Antropológico Maurice van de Maele: (Museum of History and Anthropology)
This cultural center is part of the Universidad Austral de Chile and holds collections from different periods of times of the city, from vestiges of indigenous towns to elements from the colonial period. Its Remarkable and beautiful style of German architecture catches your attention.
Torreón los Canelos:
It is considered a National Monument and is located in the corner of the street Yerba Buena. It was built in 1781 as a defensive wall of the southern part of Valdivia. It is currently an open-air museum.
Bahía de Corral (Corral Bay) is located 15 kilometers south of Valdivia and is the oldest port in southern Chile. It is recognized for its Sistema Defensivo de Fuertes (Defensive Forts System), built by the Spanish during the colonial era. There are 17 forts on the perimeter of the city and Valdivia that protected the zone from the constant attacks of pirates, English privateers and the Dutch.
Isla Mancera: (Mancera Island)
It lies at the edge of the Valdivia River, east of Bahía de Corral (Corral Bay) in front of Niebla. It is known for its fortifications as the Castillo San Pedro de Alcántara, dating from the colonial era as part of the system of forts of Valdivia.
It is the largest spa in Valdivia and is located 15 kilometers from the downtown area, at the mouth of Valdivia River. It has beautiful beaches and restaurants where you can enjoy the seafood.
Here we can also see the national monuments the Castillo de la Piura and Limpia Concepción de Monfort de Lemus. In Niebla there are natural areas such as the Silvestre Stenger Park and San Pedro de Alcantara Castle.
Its main attraction is the Castillo de Niebla, which was built in the seventeenth century in the estuary of the Valdivia River, as part of a defense complex on the coast of Valdivia.
Parque Oncol: (Oncol Park)
It is one of the most important natural areas of Valdivia, where you can see the flora and fauna of the Valdivian rainforest. It features marked trails and panoramic views to observe the surrounding area.
Parque Saval: (Saval Park)
It is located in Teja Island and has a lagoon, a stadium for rodeos, an equestrian jumping garden, picnic areas and places for outdoor activities and cultural exhibits.
Jardín Botánico: (Botanical Garden)
It is located on the banks of river CauCau and features a sample of over 1000 native and exotic species for cultivating. It was founded in 1995 by the Universidad Austral de Chile.
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Valdivia: (Museum of Contemporary Art)
It is located in the Teja Island, where there are still vestiges of the Anwandter brewery. In its ancient cellars contemporary art exhibitions are presented throughout the year.
Valdivia is a city with many natural and historical attractions. To see it you can go walk aorund its neighborhoods and observe the European influenced architecture, especially in Yungay and General Lagos streets near the city center.
You can walk along the Waterfront of Valdvia, a trip that can be done on foot or by car, along the banks of the river Calle Calle. Following this path we find the Mercado Fluvial de Valdivia (Valdivia Market) next to Muelle Schuster. This is one of the most interesting tours of the city where you can see their craft, commerce and cuisine with seafood being the major type of food. Another attraction is the Valdivia Municipal Market which also hosts the book fair during the summer.
In addition every year in this area the Semana Valdiviana (Valdivian Week) is celebrated, an event that celebrates the anniversary of the city, on the 9th of February. All kinds of cultural activities, sports and entertainment are done.
Among the major attractions of this activity is the parade of floats over larger boats that navigate the river Calle Calle. Other attractions are a Craft Fair, the election of the Reina de los Ríos (Queen of Rivers), rides and a beautiful fireworks display over the river.
From the pier you can take a motorboat to navigate to some of the attractions in the area such as Mancera Island and its forts built in the colonial era, the bay of Corral and Niebla.
The Curiñanco spa is located north of the coast of Valdivia and has a beach of 5 kilometers as well as a camping area. It is an area of water activities, especially fishing from shore.
In the city there are also cultural spaces known as the Jardín Botánico de la Universidad Austral de Chile (Botanical Garden), the largest in the campus of this University, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Valdivia, the Museo del Bosque y la Madera (Museum of Forest and Wood), which highlights the history of forestry in the area and the Corporación Cultural Municipal (Municipal Cultural Corporation), located next to Avenida Costanera and where you can see samples of culture, sculpture, music, painting and crafts
In Valdivia we can find money exchange offices, ATMs and stores that accept credit cards. However, it is recommended to use cash in case you go to more rural areas.
To reach Valdivia you can take a domestic flight from Santiago to Pichoy Airport, located 32 kilometers from the city.
You can get there by bus from major cities. The trip from Santiago covers 839 miles and takes about 12 hours.
In Valdivia there are buses and taxis called colectivos, as well as transportation by water, a unique initiative in the city of Chile.
In the Calle Calle River passenger tranfers circulate and allows to tour the piers in the area, through moving boats with solar energy. These also go to the campuses of universities Austral de Chile and San Sebastián.
The dialing code of the city of Valdivia is 63. To call from abroad, you must dial the international code of Chile which is 56, then the 63 which is the code for Valdivia and finally the telephone number.
Where and what to eat
The gastronomy in Valdivia is a mixture of Spanish and Mapuche-huilliches influences, in addition to German-style preparations that the inhabitants of the area brought.
Flavors like craft beer, marzipan, chocolate and sausages are examples of European preparations that came to this sector, introduced in traditional dishes.
Some of the typical dishes of the area are the smoked pork chops in a kassler style, pastel de carne (meatloaf) accompanied by roasted potatoes, applesauce and sauerkraut, among others. Of course you cannot forget to mention the “valdiviano”, a broth is made with dried meat and onions, created by Spanish soldiers in colonial times.
The typical local beverages are handcrafted beers, like the ones produced in the factory Kunstmann. Beer festivals, where you can try different flavors are also celebrated.
As for restaurants, the waterfront has a wide range, from traditional food to international cuisine. In the Muelle Fluvia and the Central Market you can eat fish and seafood and enjoy traditional dishes with local products from the area.