Cerro San Cristóbal is hard to overlook: this landmark hill, located in the heart of the city, is an integral part of the Santiago skyline. The views from Terraza Bellavista on top of the hill, some 300 metres above the city, are truly phenomenal. On clear days one can see the snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains.
The hill’s original name is Tupahue, ‘Mountain of God’, but it was later renamed after the Spanish-Chilean family San Cristóbal. The top of the hill is taken up by the Parque Metropolitano; with 722 hectares, this is Santiago's biggest green space and one of the largest urban parks in the world. The green oasis encompasses the peak and various other nearby hills.
In addition to having a fabulous view, Cerro San Cristóbal offers a number of other attractions. In the summer, visitors flock here to enjoy the 2 outdoor swimming pools. Children also enjoy the Parque Bicentenario de la Infancia (Bicentenary Children’s Park) which was inaugurated in 2012. This amusement park offers tree huts, water attractions and a funicular. Halfway down the hill is also a zoo. It is a small zoo but worth a visit to admire the pudu, the world’s smallest deer species and Chile’s national mascot. The Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción, a 14-metre-high statue of the Virgin Mary, is the symbol of the mountain. A small chapel lies at the foot of the statue’s 8-metre-high pedestal.
“Enjoy the funicular ride up the hill”
There are several ways to reach the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, but the funicular ride is one of the most enjoyable. The cable car departs from the Bellavista district; the boarding point is at Plaza Caupolicán at the north end of Pío Nono. Halfway up the hill it makes a brief stop at the zoo. Those who enjoy a workout may also walk to the top. There also used to be a gondola to the top, but that service has been suspended indefinitely. It is not clear whether it will be repaired or completely replaced.