Juan de Saavedra was the first who explore the Chilean coast looking for a Spaniard ship that was anchored at Quintil Bay. There he discovered a beautiful landscape, warm weather and peace, and was enchanted by it.
Between the hills and the beach there was a valley, where "Changos" originary people live, these expert fishermen were the first inhabitants of Valparaíso.
Pedro de Valdivia, Conqueror of Chile, said: "Valparaíso will be the Port for this land and for Santiago". This is known as the official foundation of the city and was on September 3rd 1544.
During the first years the Port had little importance but with time it was transformed in a commercial city and as it became more important it needed military support to protect it from pirate invasions and pillages. A well known incident happened on December 4th of 1578 with the arrival of the pirate Sir Francis Drake to the Port.
The XVIII century was important for the city development, but only in 1811 Chile recognized Valparaíso as a city.
Those were changing times for the newly independent Nation. Valparaíso played a relevant role as a military fort as well as calling for an independent liberation. This protagonic role transformed it in the second important city, after Santiago, and the neuralgic center for Chilean and southamerican communications.
In the XIX century Valparaíso became the major Naval and commercial centre of activity on the Pacific Coast of South America.
The Port had progress and transformations. It was pioneer in several developments; here started the first telephonic line, one of the first railroad lines in the country, the first elevators, Firemans Company and Constructions of civic and commercial settings. The city soon had electric and gas lights systems.
Valparaíso citizens are known for their unique characteristic, influenced by: the steep geography, its settlement, the architecture and the variety of foreigners that arrived. It was the result of commercial activities coming from abroad. At the beginning foreigners stayed for a few days, with time they stayed for longer time and finally many of them settle in Valparaíso and built their houses in the hills with their own styles.
The largest colonies were the English, Italians, Spanish, French, German and United States people. Every one contributed with different aspects of their own cultures.
These cultural diversity made of Valparaíso a Cosmopolitan and bohemian city, a focus for artist, intellectuals and poets.
Information provided by 2002 Cense showed a total population in Valparaíso Region of 1.539.852 inhabitants, that is the 10.1% of the country. Valparaíso has been recognized for UNESCO as Humanity Heritage Place. The city has received funds from this Institution to repair and rebuilt several areas.
Nowadays, Valparaíso is one of the most important cities in the country.
Address: María Luisa Santander #537. Santiago, Chile - Phone: (56-2) 894 72 98 - Mail: [email protected]