If you’re wondering if it was that large hill that can be found in the middle of Santiago, the famous Cerro San Cristobal, the mountain is essential to many different people. Cerro San Cristobal is one of Santiago Chile’s most famous tourist spots.
For some, it is a religious pilgrimage due to the 22-meter marble Virgin Mary statue atop a hill. For others, it is an amazing place to cycle and run, and they use the hill’s open space to train and have fun. This is a place to enjoy Santiago from the top and take pictures of everything.
When my mother decided to visit me during my days in Chile, this was the first place I thought about bringing her. I knew she would enjoy the fantastic view overlooking Santiago, the Andes Mountains, and the Cordillera de la Costa.
A little bit of history from Cerro San Cristobal
Cerro San Cristobal, also known as San Cristobal Hill, is a hill in the northern part of Santiago that rises almost 300 meters above the city. With Cerro Renca, Cerro San Cristobal is the highest point in the town, and you must visit at least one of them when you get to Santiago.
Named by Spanish conquistadors for Saint Christopher (San Cristobal in Spanish), it replaced the original indigenous name Tupahue man’s Place of God in Mapundungun. Sometime after the city’s founding, a 10-meter-high cross was placed on the hill’s summit, and there it remained until the end of the 19th century.
The hill only started being used in 1903, with the installation of the Mills Observatory, a twin of the Lick Observatory of the University of California.
When you reach the summit, you can see a sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Atop the hill are a 22-meter-high statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a small chapel. Inside it, you can see a small pedestal on which Pope John Paul II prayed and blessed the city of Santiago back in 1987. There is also an amphitheater for masses and other religious ceremonies. There are also snack bars and tourist shops to visit.
I was there with my mother for a few hours on a bright afternoon in April 2013, and we liked the place so much that I decided to write about it a few years later. The view from up there is fantastic, and you need to take a good camera if you want to capture everything around you.
I only brought my old iPhone with me, and I kind of regret that the pictures on this post are the only ones I have of that fantastic place. And since we’re talking about places that your camera will love, try to go beyond Santigo for photo opportunities. The Circuit in Torres del Paine is a great way to see Chile from the top, and a complete guide filled with information is all you need to inspire you.
Some of you may be wondering, how do you get up there?
There are a few to reach the top of Cerro San Cristobal, and since my mother walks around with a cane, we decided to take the easy way there, and, for us, this was the funicular. Below you can see some of your options.
Taking the funicular up Cerro San Cristobal
For now, this is the only mechanical way to reach up the hill. The view going up is great and too bad it goes too fast for my taste.
Walking up the hill
If you want to walk up the hill, there is a system of trails that lead you up there. It might take something like 30 minutes of light hike for you to get there.
Taking your bike
If you have a bike, you can go up the hill through Pio Nono or Pedro de Valdivia side. Take extra care of turns, and you will be fine. But really pay attention since you will be sharing space with cars as well.
My visit to Cerro San Cristobal was one of the highlights of my time in Chile. You can see the city’s size, the Andes surrounding Santiago, and much more from there. And, of course, there are a lot of stray dogs up there as well.
Next time I’m in Santiago, I plan to go there at the end of the day to capture the day turning into the night over Santiago.
A Visit to Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago
Recoleta – Santiago Metropolitan Region Chile
I lived in Santiago in early 2013 with my friend Pedro Villalobos. We were part of Startup Chile and were there to build Lagiar. My mother was there to visit me for a few days, and she loved the time we spent at Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago.