Former National Congress Building
The Former National Congress Building (Edificio del ex Congreso Nacional de Chile) is a striking structure in Santiago’s city center. Marvel at its graceful architectural style and contemplate the political events that took place within its walls.
Inaugurated in 1876 and rebuilt after a fire in 1895, the Former National Congress Building served as the home of the Chilean Congress for almost a century. In 1973, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet led a military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende’s socialist government and Congress was moved to Valparaíso.
Although not open to the public, the building is nevertheless impressive. Spend time walking around the perimeter, which covers an entire city block. Gaze up at the neoclassical façade and note how the huge columns and large windows characterize its design. The most interesting areas of the edifice are its northern and eastern sides, where grand porch entrances are supported by Corinthian-style columns.
Peek through the iron fence to see the colorful flowers and exotic trees in the beautiful manicured gardens. Look for a solemn statue of La Madre de Jesús (Mother of Jesus). It honors hundreds of churchgoers that lost their lives when a fire destroyed the Iglesia Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Company) in 1863. The church previously stood in the eastern section of the gardens.
About 30 minutes should be enough time to wander around the building, check out its prominent features and take photos. A trip here can be combined with a visit to nearby Plaza de Armas. This lively historic square is home to the Museo Histórico Nacional (National History Museum) and Catedral de Santiago (Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral).
The Former National Congress Building is situated in Santiago’s city center and is just a short walk from major city attractions. To reach it, take the metro or a bus to the Plaza de Armas station.