There townspeople pray and, no doubt, as they touch or view the
wooden walls surrounding them, feel as if they were at home in their
own houses, built with the same material but anchored on palafittes
tree trunks embedded in the ocean platforms of the islands, to protect
them from the strong tides.
surely recall their ancestors: Mapuches,
, and the Spanish and other immigrants, who,
to a greater or lesser extent, contributed to the development of
the present archipelago, first sighted in 1540 by sailor Alfonso
de Camargo, and officially discovered in 1553 by Francisco de Ulloa.
The first Spanish tourists were struck by the great Island
, the second largest in all of South America,
which today is a province measuring 9,181.6 square kilometers in
area and having 130,000 inhabitants, located 1,057 kilometers from
Santiago and 59 kilometers from Puerto Montt.
At the northern tip of this great island lies Ancud, a city founded on August 20, 1768 by the Spanish brigadier Carlos Berenguer, and that is now the area with greatest contact with the Chilean mainland. Its population is around 24,000.
Its magnificent public square has seven colonial-style towers, surrounding a replica of the schooner Ancud. This vessel, built by the "Chilotas" took possession of the Straits of Magellan in 1843. Another visiting "must" is the seafront avenue where one can view the Quetalmahue mini-gulf, with its beautiful arms of water, and the Lacuy peninsula.
Castro, capital of the province of Chiloe
founded in 1567 by Maño Ruiz de Gamboa. the Plaza de Armas, the
Regional Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Chiloe
and the church of St. Francis form part of its charm, a charm that
is enhanced by its unique palafitos, houses built on wooden piles
to protect them against high tide.
These attractions are prolonged at Quellon with its incomparably
splendid view of Corcovado Volcano and the chance it offers of visiting
the native communities of Compu, Chadmo Central and Hauipulli, the
only ones on the islands; also in Chonchi, the "city of three floors",
due to its cypress wood construction, and in Chiloe
National Park, a wilderness bastion on Isla Grande.