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History in Palacio de La Moneda

No place in Santiago has as much historical significance as the Palacio de La Moneda. Now the home of the Chilean Government, the palace was the scene of a violent coup in 1973 that eventually cost the lives of thousands of Chileans. Today La Moneda is also an interesting architectural landmark, where you will enjoy learning about Chile’s culture and history with a visit to the cultural centre in the basement.

Originally, La Moneda was not a palace at all: it was built in 1784 to house the National Mint. The building is named after the Spanish word for mint or coin - ‘moneda’. It only became the seat of the government in 1846. In 1973, the world watched as the palace was in the very midst of General Pinochet’s violent coup. La Moneda was heavily bombed when incumbent president Salvador Allende refused to leave. In 1981, it was again reinstated as a palace.

La Moneda

Santiago de Chile

“The interior of La Moneda is strikingly colourful with yellow, red and blue rooms”

Colourful interior

A tour of the palace encompasses several stately rooms; the highlight is the Salón Independencia. It was typically from one of the balconies in this room that the Chilean people were addressed and given important government news in the 18th and 19th century. Today this is also from where each newly elected Chilean president addresses the people. The interior of La Moneda is striking and some of the rooms are beautiful with yellow, red and blue colours. Another special event is the official changing of the guard. The ceremony occurs every other day; check the schedule prior to your visit.

Culture in the basement

In 2010, a new square was inaugurated next the palace: Plaza de la Ciudadanía. Below the square is Chile’s most important cultural centre, the Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda. Accessible via walkways that descend to the atrium, the futuristic centre features a glass roof that lets in natural light. There are 2 exhibit rooms for temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection display. The centre primarily displays works by Latin American artists and photographers. The permanent exhibit room showcases historic Chilean art and articles such as clothing and jewellery. The centre also houses a cinema, a library, an educational centre and several restaurants and cafés. Admission is free from Monday to Friday morning.
Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda

Photo credits

  • Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda: Esme Vos, Flickr