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SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

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SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

San Pedro de Atacama refreshes one like a cool wind, blowing in the burning sun of the driest desert in the world. This is a quietly historical and cultural town set peacefully in the midst of a changing geography, featuring enormous extensions of sand, vast salt flats, pretty little valleys and snow-capped volcanoes almost six thousand meters in height.
San Pedro de Atacama - Travel to Chile "Chile's Archaeological Capital" and "Typical Zone" as it is known since 1980, the desert town (103 kilometers from Calama and 2,438 meters above sea level) traces its origins back 11,000 years when primitive settlers moved into the Hoya del Loa and the oases that relieve Atacama's aridity, turning this into Chile's first sedentary population and one of the Pre-Hispanic world's main cultural centers.
From those early times still subsist the social organization of the population into ayllus (family groupings with the "you scratch my back and tomorrow I'll scratch yours" philosophy), the terracing "carved" out of the hillsides to develop early agriculture, the pukaras (fortress-like structures built in the 12th century), the village of Tulor that lies half buried under sand drifts, and the ancient towns like Peine, Socaire and Toconao.
On these historical sands, the Incas built the Catarpe Administrative Center in 1450, while the Spaniards, headed by Diego de Almagro and Pedro de Valdivia, subjected the area between 1536 and 1540, renaming it as Atacama la Grande. Later would come the colonial churches, where to this day the conquistadors' God is worshipped.
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    The traces of this past of struggle and tenacity in the parching desert environment can be followed in the Padre Le Paige Archaeological Museum, a modern creation, with 450,000 archaeological items showing the development of Atacama culture. This is located in the peaceful rural village of San Pedro de Atacama, whose population numbers only 500 inhabitants.

     Church San Pedro de Atacama Chile Travel From the museum to the church of San Pedro de Atacama. The full circle, closing in the doorway and belfry of the region's most attractive and important church which, thanks to its -practically celestial- architectural beauty, has been declared a National Monument.
    However, here at San Pedro de Atacama, human creations are simply a finishing touch, a mere addition to the magnificent works of nature: the severe cadence of desert dunes in areas that have never seen a drop of rain; the unpolluted whiteness of Chile's greatest salt flats; and the stylized grace of the flamingoes and guallatas that stalk the lakes.
    Geysers of Tatio San Pedro de Atacama Chile Travel And nature seems irritated at times, fuming repeatedly in the amazing geysers of Tatio, natural chimneys rising to 7 meters height; and, at times, it seems whimsical and fantastic in the mysterious Valley of the Moon, a strangely contorted landscape.
    San Pedro de Atacama: desert, parched earth, sandy wastes that transform into cozy company in a town with cobbled roads and adobe buildings. Here one finds magic and enchantment, heat and delirium, perhaps even mirages. Here there are salty plains, lakes and even a moonscape … but no rain. Something had to be missing. Nothing is ever perfect.



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