de Armas. Main Square
Designed by Pedro de Valdivia, it is considered the heart of the city. It is surrounded by the Cathedral, the Audiencia Real (Royal Court), the Central Post Office -formerly the conqueror's house- and Santiago's City Hall. At sunset it becomes a meeting and relaxation point where senior citizens, immigrants or mere passers-by take a rest, feed the pigeons o just hang out under the fresh shade of leafy trees.
The building of the current temple -the fourth one, since the previous three were shattered by earthquakes and fires- was initiated during the government of Ortiz de Rosas, between 1748 and 1775. The new church was located in the same place chosen by Pedro de Valdivia, the city's founder, for the original one.
Joaquin Toesca intervened in its fourth restoration giving architectural unity to the Cathedral, as he blended both classical and baroque characteristics. Inside, it is possible to appreciate three naves, two on the sides and a higher one in the center, as well as a barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Some of the most outstanding features are the main altar, original from Munich and made of white marble with applications in bronze and lapis lazuli; the Holy Sacrament chapel, similar to the Saint John and Saint Paul Martyr chapel in Rome; as well as the organs, pulpits and carved mahogany altar seats, dating from the 18th century.
The Cathedral was declared a National Monument in 1951 and houses the Museum of Sacred Art.
"Real Audiencia" Palace or National Historical Museum.
It was built between 1804 and 1907. The works were in the hands of Juan José de Goycolea, who imprinted a neo-classical style with Tuscan elements. It was inaugurated in 1808 and it was used as Court seat during colonial times.
It later became the place where the First Local Government ("Primera Junta de Gobierno") declared Chilean independence. In 1911, it was turned into the National Historical Museum with over 12 thousand pieces, distributed throughout the 16 rooms representing the different periods of the history of Chile. It was declared a National Monument in 1969.