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Plaza Prat and Paseo Baquedano - City Walk Iquique - Chile

Iquique’s ruling nitrate families left an indelible print on the city. Social clubs, public monuments and lavish homes built of Oregon pine grace the historic center of the city. Many of the mansions are now home to restaurants, nightclubs, museums and university academic departments. Our exploration begins on Plaza Prat and continues down Paseo Baquedano.


Plaza Prat

In the center of the Plaza is the Torre del Reloj. Frenchman Eduardo de Lepeyrouse was the architect of this neo-Gothic clock tower built in 1877, which was inaugurated just months before the naval battle that forever changed the history of this city. Next to it is a gazebo, a fun place to hang out and people watch. On the northeast corner of the plaza is Hrvatski Dom, the social club of Iquique’s immigrant Croatian community. Next door is the Casino Español, of the resident Spanish community. Designed in 1903 by Miguel Retornano, this edifice has spectacularly rich Moorish styling. Interior murals depict scenes of Spanish history. Some were painted by Sixto Rojas, who survived the Escuela Santa María massacre. El Quijote and Sancho Panza are known to frequent the club. Even Chilean high society has its retreat at the Club Protectora on the southwest corner. Next to the Protectora is the Teatro Municipal, also made of Oregon pine (1889). Its neo-Classic façade has four female figures representing each season. Tours are given of the scrumptious interior (daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thompson 269, corner of Baquedano, Tel.: 54-4734, E-mail: Entry: adults $2, students and retirees $1).


Paseo Baquedano

Paseo Baquedano is a pedestrian street lined with family casonas built during the hey-day of the salitrareas (1880-1920). Many are built of Oregon pine imported from the US and Canada. These mansions are of Georgian-style architecture, characterized by slender columns, wood balustrades and balconies. Down the center of the flagstone street are wrought-iron street lanterns. Take a leisurely stroll down the wooden plank sidewalks (literal boardwalks), stopping into the many museums and artisan galleries. Sidewalk cafés invite you to come and rest a while, before continuing your exploration.


Just past Plaza Prat, a street fair is going on. During the day, artisans, antique dealers and booksellers vie tourists’ attention with their wares. If you don’t find anything of interest there, then check out Galería Turística Artesanal on the corner of Gorostiaga.


At Calle Zeger (900-block of Baquedano) is a plaza with fountains. Abstract marble sculptures by Hernán Puelma (2005) give a modern touch to this length of the paseo. Along this stretch is the Sala de Arte Casa Collahuasi which hosts art exhibits, free movies and other cultural events (Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Baquedano 930). A few doors down is the Aymara women’s cooperative, Marka Sawuri (Sunday-Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 3-7 p.m. Baquedano 958). On the other side of the street is the Museo Regional with an impressive collection of ancient indigenous artifacts (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., weekends and holidays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Baquedano 951. Entry: by donation). On the next corner, O’Higgins, is Palacio Astoreca, furnished with luxurious period furniture (Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 4-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-1 p.m. O’Higgins 350).


Museo Histórico Militar Tarapacá is dedicated to the Guerra del Pacífico, with maps of the battles, armaments, photos and soldiers’ personal effects (Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-1:15 p.m., 4:15-7 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Baquedano 1396. Entry: by donation). Just after this museum, Baquedano merges with Avenida Prat, near the Paseo Costanera Parque Balmaceda, between Playas Bellavista and Cavancha. At this intersection is a giant monument dedicated to the hero of the Guerra del Pacífico, Arturo Prat.

Iquique, Chile

City Walk Types:

Getting There
The route can easily be walked in a leisurely 45 minutes. Add 45-60 minutes for each museum you want to stop off at.


A turn-of-the-century tranvĂ­a runs down Paseo, between Plaza Prat and the end of Baquedano.

Travel Tips: Make a lunch break at Hrvatski Dom (Club Croata, Plaza Prat 310, Tel.: 76-4162), Casino Español (Plaza Prat 584 Tel: 33-3911) and Club Protectora (Thompson 207, Tel.: 32-0656, E-mail: If you are on a budget, then try the more economical Camarón or Cappuccino restaurants on Baquedano at Gorostiaga.

Price Description: Free.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

Swim, sunbathe or surf at Cavancha and the other beaches in Iquique. Head out to the arid pampas to visit the old nitrate mining oficinas Humberstone and Santa Laura, or check out Gigante de Atacama and the other geoglyphs decorating the desert hills. Visit historic Pisagua. Soak in the hot springs at Pica or Mamiña.

Currencies accepted
Chilean Peso

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

02 Jul 2009

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