Built on a small promontory at the head of a 20km fjord, lively CASTRO occupies an unusual position both physically and historically. Founded in 1567, it’s the third-oldest city in Chile, but it never became strategically important because it’s a terrible harbour for sailing ships, only flourishing because the Jesuits chose to base their mission here. Today, little remains of old Castro, though some buildings have miraculously survived, such as the groups of brightly coloured palafitos – shingled fishermen’s houses on stilts – on the waterfront to the north and south of town.

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