Santiago, Chile in songs – a musical tour of the city’s most romantic neighborhoods

The city of Santiago de Chile is never romanticized as much as Paris or New York, but it should be. Colorful tones of revolution and romance are evident in every distinct neighborhood throughout Santiago, and these sensations gain additional depth and poignancy when paired with the perfect music.

Listen to the following playlist while visiting Santiago’s most lovely districts, and allow this melodic city to seep into your heart:

1. Schwenke and Nilo – “El Viaje”

Chile mourned when musician Nelson Schwenke – of the duo Schwenke and Nilo – passed away earlier this year, but his legacy survives in his music. Songs like “El Viaje” – “The Journey” – embody the resilient and poetic Chilean spirit, and this evocative tune sets the stage for your Santiago voyage.

2. Frédéric Chopin, interpreted by Claudio Arrau – “Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Major”

Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Major is both lilting and solemn, reminiscent of birds frolicking between the towering araucaria trees in Parque Forestal before landing and standing like attentive sentries on the aristocratic staircase of the Museo Bellas Artes (located in the center of the park). A short walk from the park and the museum, on Calle Esmeralda, you can visit the oldest house in Santiago – Posada del Corregidor – which is now home to a piano of Claudio Arrau, regarded as the world’s greatest interpreter of Chopin.

3. Violeta Parra – “La Jardinera”

In bohemian Barrio Lastarria, a short stroll from the Bellas Artes district, one can hear street musicians playing a variety of music, including “La Jardinera,” by renowned Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra. “La Jardinera” is a whimsical tale of healing a broken heart, but Lastarria is an ideal destination for new love and an amorous dinner date.

4. Astor Piazzolla – “Los Sueños”

Piazzolla’s sultry accordion invokes images of France, but one can find a little version of Paris’s Latin Quarter in Santiago, near the intersection of streets Paris and Londres. This small neighborhood features elegant European architecture and cobblestone streets, along with an ornate 17th-century church, Iglesia de San Francisco, Santiago’s oldest building.

5. Victor Jara – “Deja La Vida Volar”

Freedom was an important message in Victor Jara’s music, and he devoted his legendary life to the exquisite liberty and metaphorical flight that this song suggests. Santiago’s Barrio Brasil is perhaps the city’s most youthful, artistic district, and the Victor Jara Foundation is active here, operating popular music and cultural center Galpón Victor Jara.

6. Alberto Cortez – “Poema XX Pablo Neruda”

Vibrant Barrio Bellavista was home to illustrious Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and you can still visit his beloved residence, La Chascona, at the base of Cerro San Cristobal hill. Now a hip scene of art and nightlife, Bellavista’s mural-covered buildings and cultured streets carry Neruda’s literary inheritance – as does Alberto Cortez’s potent voice reverently crooning one of the poet’s most haunting verses in “Poema XX Pablo Neruda.”

7. Los Cuatro Cuartos – “Si Vas Para Chile”

“Si Vas Para Chile” – “If You Go to Chile” – visit the song’s Las Condes, Santiago’s upscale district, also known as Sanhattan. When this tune was written in 1942 by Chico Faró, Las Condes was a small, green community nestled near the mountains. Farms and manors have since been replaced by pavement and crystalline skyscrapers, but romance still exists in energetic Las Condes.

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Romantic Santiago (Photo by Gretchen Stahlman)
By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel
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