UNESCO World Heritage Valparaiso, Chile

Week 9 – Valparaiso… the colorful perched houses on the many hills facing the dark blue Pacific Ocean are as beautiful as the Street Art blooming everywhere in the city!

I have been dreaming about Valparaiso for the past 5 years since a friend of mine was traveling in Latine America. And I was not disappointed!

Valparaiso was an important port in the XIX century, known as “The Jewel of the Pacific”, when it was a main stop on the road between Atlantic and Pacific oceans for the boats crossing the Straits of Magellan or the Cap Horn. In the XX century, Valparaiso was partly destroyed by a earthquake in 1906 but it’s the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 which definitely ended the golden age of its commerce. Now in the XXI century, the city can see an increase of activity thanks to the Chile copper and fruit exports and to the tourism.

But let’s go back to the Street Art! Of course, we joined a free tour specialised in the murals. In Chile, in general, tags are everywhere. Santiago’s center as Valparaiso’s are covered by graffitis, which at first sight looks like a sign of decrepitude as in the US or Europe where tags are synonymous of violence and disrespect. Here in Chile, the graffitis are used as a way of expression by everyone, and we did see different people simply signing walls or benches on our way back to the harbor.

The picture of this week is a mural of Inti Castro a well-known artist from Valparaiso who is now working worldwide and leaving in France (he has done a superb mural in the 13th arrondissement). His work is referring to the South America popular traditions and to the indigeneous and pre-colombian culture. The white mask of this character is a traditional clown named “Kusillo” from the Bolivian carnival and all the patterns on his clothes represent different pre-Colombian groups like for example the Incas symbolised by the yellow and orange geometric forms. He is engaged and give strong messages in each of his work.

Nota: the hummingbird on the top right has been made by another Chilean artist, Charquipunk. I can’t resist to add this picture of another of his work in Valparaiso!

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