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Plaza Victoria, Valparaiso

Victoria Square, Valparaiso, Chile.
A view of Victoria Square 
Photo: rutaschile.com

Also known as Plaza de la Victoria, it is an emblematic place and of great historic importance for the main Chilean seaport, located in El Almendral neighborhood.  It takes its name in honor of the Chilean triumph in the War against the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, just after the victory in the Battle of Yungay in January 1839.  

Located opposite the Plaza Simon Bolívar, between what today are Arturo Edwards, Chacabuco, Molina and Independencia-Condell streets. Along with Plaza Simon Bolivar, both make up an important urban nucleus of the city, with important relevant buildings that surround them and a large influx of people, not in vain a popular song from the 60s already said: "Plaza de la Victoria, is a great social center🎵🎵..."

Environment and Architecture 


Aerial view of Plaza Victoria
Photo: El Mercurio Valparaiso
  After Independence, the square received several names such as Plaza O'Higgins, Nueva and Orrego, but in 1841 it was renamed, changing its old name from Plaza Orrego to Plaza de la Victoria, alluding to what had been the recent Chilean military triumph over the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. 

From then on, various urbanization and beautification plans are carried out and the plaza begins to increase in importance for social gatherings as well as for commerce and recreational activity.

Currently, the floor is adorned by sinusoidal shaped tiles. In addition, various statues of artistic and heritage significance are located inside:

The Fuente Francesa, in the center of the square there is a water fountain which was brought from France, flanked by four statues symbolizing the seasons of the year. It was installed by the end of the 1860s or the beginning of 1870. t is a fountain based on the work of the sculptor Mathurin Moreau, its pedestal is adorned by the mythological figures of four classical gods of waters and seas: Neptune, god of freshwater and the sea; Anphitrite, an ancient goddess of the calm sea, wife of Poseidon; Acis, god of the homonymous river close to Etna in Sicily and Galatea, Acis lover and creator of the river, which is sometimes seen as Roda, daughter of the couple of sea kings. At the top, four children holding hands support a smaller plate.

Other interesting ornamental pieces are the two lions located at one of its entrances. These figures would evoke those of the Teatro de la Victoria, collapsed by the 1906 earthquake.

Valparaiso is a historic city with ancient traditions. Its old buildings reflect this past, some of them around this square: 

 Club Naval de Valparaiso 
Valparaiso Naval Club
Photo: clubnaval.cl

1586 Condell St. Naval circle founded in 1885 by a group of officers of the Chilean Navy who felt the need to have a center in which to express their concerns and be custodian of the naval traditions of a victorious Navy at the end of the War of the Pacific. The current Club Naval building is a palace located in front of the Teatro Condell. 

Teatro Condell, 1585 Condell St., a theater and cinema  opened in 1912 next to the gallery that bears his name, with a capacity of 350 spectators. Built by the Italian architect Antonio Lafoglia.

Valparaiso Cathedral, 1774 Chacabuco St. The Gothic-style building was built between 1910 and 1950 on land donated by Juana Ross Edwards. It was restored after the 1971 and 1985 earthquakes.

In the crypt, next to the graves of the diocesan bishops, the heart of the Minister of State, Mr. Diego Portales, is kept in a bronze amphora. Daily, at 7:00 p.m. you can hear the cathedral bells ringing.

Santiago Severin Public Library
Public Library in Valparaiso, Chile.
Photo: bibliotecaspublicas.gob.cl
 1653 Yungay St., in front of Plaza Simon Bolivar. It was created on February 27, 1873, being the first public library in Chile, after the Biblioteca Nacional. The building, which has a neoclassical and neo-Renaissance style, was inaugurated on October 26, 1919, receiving the name of its benefactor, Santiago Severin. It currently has some 82,000 copies of books, along with approximately 260,000 copies of newspapers and magazines.

Playa Las Torpederas (Las Torpederas Beach)

Playa Las Torpederas in Valparaiso, Chile
A view of Las Torpederas

Las Torpederas is a small (but the best-known) beach in Valparaiso, located at the foot of Playa Ancha hill, western end of the bay. The place owes its name to the Torpedo Boats belonging to the Chilean Navy that took part in the War of the Pacific in 1879 and which used to anchor here around 1887

In ancient times, it was the vacation epicenter of the Chilean aristocracy, in the mid-nineteenth century, the first sea bathing facilities already existed in the place, consisting of a perforated crate which was submerged until the water reached the bather`s chest, to make sure that the swimmer did not drown and was protected against sharks and other animals. By 1919, the nascent tourist center already had a small hotel, a casino and a dance hall, where parties with live music were held throughout most of the summer.

Currently, of these facilities, only one balcony remains which has been converted into a restaurant, the rest have disappeared. However, the same festive atmosphere of that time persists, it is on this beach where the local culture appears more conspicuously. It has always been the favorite recreation site of the residents of the Playa Ancha neighborhood, who go down to the coastaline to enjoy the sun and sea.  

The beach itself is tiny but very cozy, with its waterfront, stairways and lookouts, around there is a very nice park, which enhances the beauty of the place. This beach is ideal for learning to swim, without many waves, comparable to a giant pool although the water is rather cold and there are small stones. In addition, Las Torpederas is an excellent place to learn to dive due to its calmness, without big waves and adequate depth.

An additional interesting fact, nowadays Las Torpederas Beach is precisely the point of arrival in Chile of the undersea cable known as Curie. It is a submarine communications cable belonging to Google with a length of 10,476 km. which connects the city of Los Angeles, California with Valparaiso and the Google Data Center in Quilicura, Santiago de Chile.

Playa Las Torpederas is located in the urban area of Valparaiso and there is good access either by vehicle or public transport. 

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