Valparaíso is a masterpiece itself. Its hills hide a labyrinth of streets, elevators, doors and tiny houses with their most precious treasure on the walls: the murals of Valparaíso.
The street art of Valparaíso (for friends: Valpo) was born in 1970 during presidential campaign in Chile. Salvador Allende was competing in the elections with Eduardo Freire and his quite intimidating budget for the campaign. However, Allende’s supporters decided to paint his hometown with messages on political background and help him out.
In the 90’s the “Museo a Cielo Abierto” (Open Air Museum) was founded in the Bellavista district. Many of the famous artists participated in the initiative, among others Roberto Matta, Roser Bru, José Balmes.
So, what actually is Valparaíso?
Yes, Valparaíso is an important port in Chile, just next to Viña del Mar, known for its music festival, holiday resorts and hotels. However, Valparaíso is much more than Wikipedia can actually tell you.
Valparaíso is spread on hills which used to be accesible through elevators, similar to the one in Lisbon. The hills are linked together by a labyrinth of painted houses and streets with colourful walls. We have come across a guide and a map created by Lonely Planet that gives exact location of the most popular murals from the 90’s. We are really sorry to tell you that it’s usage is doubtful. Valparaíso cannot be visited like any other city following the list of must-see monuments. You need to get lost to find the real essence of it. Valparaíso is in streets, corners, small details, its people. There is no sense of taking bus touristic as every single street of Valpo can have a painting hidden on the building, a message written on a bench or laundry pegs.
Is it worth a visit just for street art?
Definitely Yes… The colourful murals are Valparaíso, but the city offers cozy coffee houses, restaurants, beautiful scenery, hand made art and… best ice-creams in Chile 😉 Don’t leave Valparaíso without taking one of the famous elevators (Lonely Planet) or Museo Maritimo (Maritime Museum).
During our visit to Valpo we most probably walked almost same amount of distance as in Torres del Paine W trekking! We leave you 20 pictures of Valpo we absolutely fell in love with.