Walk west along the Alameda and you enter what was once the preserve of Santiago’s moneyed elite, with several glorious mansions built around 1900 serving as reminders. The first to look out for is the French-style Palacio Irarrázaval, on the south side of the Alameda between San Ignacio and Dieciocho; built in 1906 by Cruz Montt, it now houses an old-fashioned restaurant. Adjoining it at the corner of Dieciocho, the slightly later and more ornate Edificio Iñíguez, by the same architect in league with Larraín Bravo, houses Confitería Torres, said to be where the “national” sandwich, the Barros Luco, was invented in honour of a leading politician.
Then check out the 1917 Palacio Ariztía, headquarters in Santiago for the nation’s deputies, a little further on in the next block; a fine copy of an Art Nouveau French mansion, again by Cruz Montt, it is set off by an iron-and-glass door canopy. Next door, the late-nineteenth-century Palacio Errázuriz, the oldest and finest of these Alameda mansions, is now the Brazilian Embassy. Built for Maximiano Errázuriz, mining mogul and leading socialite, it is a soberly elegant two-storey building in a Neoclassical style – the architect was Italian Eusebio Chelli. You’re now standing opposite the triumphant Monumento a los Héroes de la Concepción, an imposing statue which borders the junction of the Alameda with the Avenida Norte Sur (the Panamericana); this is where metro Lines #1 and #2 intersect at Los Héroes station.