SANTIAGO – In every neighborhood, in every commune in Santiago you’ll find markets, mercados and ferías. The markets are a great place to get to know real Chilean culture. Chile Today reviews some of Santiago’s best markets. Today part I: Pueblito Los Dominicos.
Pueblito Los Dominicos is a beautiful artisan market with a stunning backdrop of the Andes Mountains and one of the best places in Santiago for authentic and unique gifts or souvenirs. Set in a traditional-style Chilean village with mud and straw abodes, the market is home to more than 200 shops.
As visitors stroll through the market’s winding, tree-shaded alleys they can witness artisans creating a wide variety of products from leather goods, wood products, copper and lapis lazuli jewellery, handmade ceramics, painting, decorations and Mapuche textiles and silver.
Easily accessible by public transit and with parking facilities, Pueblito Los Dominicos attracts countless locals and visitors from around the world.
The history of Pueblito Los Dominicos
The market is located in Los Dominicos Park, next to the striking San Vicente Ferrer Church, also known as Los Dominicos Church.
In 1544, being nothing but vast countryside, these lands were given by Pedro de Valdivia, the governor of Chile, to his close companion, the female Spanish conquistador Inés de Suárez. Throughout the centuries the lands changed hands from family to family either through sale or inheritance.
The area also famously served as a hiding place or refuge for several key historical figures, most notably the independence leader, Manuel Rodriguez during the Chilean War of Independence, historian Diego Barros Arana and President José Manuel Balmaceda.
These lands were also home to the Dominican order, from which they take their name and which resided in a local monastery. When in possession of the land, the Cranisbo family, great benefactors of the Dominicans, built a grand church on the side of the monastery in 1809.
The San Vicente Ferrer Church is unique in having two copper domes above its two towers, symbolizing two of the Cranisbro children that passed away tragically. This picturesque church was declared a National Monument in 1983.
The modern market was born in the 1980s when the old farm stables and cellars on the property began to be transformed into a place for artisans to work, display and sell their crafts. Over time, more colonial-style abodes were built matching the traditional style.
There are now over 200 shops specializing in a variety of crafts. The market and its surrounding area was proclaimed a heritage zone by the government and is now used to promote hand-craft and artisans in Chile.
In terms of souvenirs, the market offers a great variety of typical Chilean items to choose from. Countless shops offer jewellery made with lapis lazuli, a deep blue semi-precious stone that is found in the Andes Mountains, one of the world’s largest natural deposits.
Copper, one of Chile’s main mining resources, is also used by artisans for jewellery, cookware decorative elements and iconography. Leatherwork for belts, purses, wallets and shoes as well as large amounts of woodwork can be found throughout the market.
Nonetheless, some of most culturally significant souvenirs are those of Mapuche handicraft, including textiles, woven clothing and silver jewellery.
While the market is a cornucopia of traditional Chilean crafts, it is also a place for unique gifts. Anything from medicinal herbs, handmade honey, bath salts, natural soaps and skincare, pet products to art works and paintings and even exotic plants can be found here.
Once visitors have exhausted themselves from shopping they can find reprieve in one of several restaurants that sell traditional Chilean meals, such as empanadas or pastel de choclo (corn cake) to complete the cultural experience.
During the summer months visitors can enjoy fresh air and mountain views when sitting in the restaurants’ patios located in the market’s main square.
Plan your visit
The market is conveniently located a 10-minute walk from Los Dominicos metro station on the Red Line (line1). It can also be reached with several city busses. Car and bicycle parking is ample and charged by length of stay. Opening hours vary in winter and summer, but are typically from morning to sunset. Bathrooms and an ATM are provided on site.
The entrance to the market is free which makes it a great place to visit not only for anyone interested in shopping but for the simple joy of taking a stroll through its peaceful streets, befriending one of the many resident cats, sitting under one of the shady trees and watching artisans at work.
Some shops even offer workshops for anyone interested in learning their craft. The Pueblito Los Dominicos market is a must-see for anyone visiting Santiago or interested in authentic handmade crafts. For more information please visit the markets website.
Born in Ukraine but raised in Canada since a young age, Kateryna Kurdyuk has since acquired a Masters of Media Studies and Communication from University of Melbourne in Australia and worked in the education field in Dubai, UAE. While currently working as an English Professor in Santiago, Chile, Kateryna is using her extensive experience living and travelling abroad to contribute as a writer to the emerging independent English-language media in Chile.