You can’t miss the Iglesia San Francisco, with its towering red walls jutting out into the street. This is Santiago’s oldest building, erected between 1586 and 1628. Take a look inside at the Virgen del Socorro, a small polychrome carving (rather lost in the vast main altar) brought to Chile on the saddle of Pedro de Valdivia in 1540 and credited with guiding him on his way, as well as fending off Indian attackers by throwing sand in their eyes. For all its age and beauty, the most remarkable feature of this church is its deep, hushed silence; you’re just metres from the din of the Alameda but the traffic seems a million miles away.
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