What a beautiful place this city must be during the summer months! Surrounded by three rivers and countless inlets, coves and baylets, it reminded me of the Puget Sound region around Seattle, only on a slightly smaller scale. Now, during the winter, we were lucky to get a couple of hours of sunshine (more…)
But no matter, enough to get a general impression of a city that has been built and rebuilt three times: founded initially in 1552, then again in 1645, and rebuilt again after the horrific earthquake of May 22, 1960 with a Richter scale peak of 9.5, the tsunami effects of which were felt as far away as Japan and Hawaii. In the mid 1800s, the Chilean government actively sought immigrants, mainly from Germany, in order to colonize the area. Come they did, bringing their work ethic, culture and beer: Kunstmann Cerveza (Beer) is one of the most popular brands in Chile and they have their own Beerfest at the end of January; as is Entre Lagos chocolates and marzipan with an enormous – and, of course, delicious – selection of types of chocolates, marmelades, cakes and very creative forms of marzipan fruits and figures. The Anwandter and the Frick families established schools and museums, which still exist and flourish today. Now boasting a population of about 156.000 inhabitants, it is also the home of the most important university in the south of Chile.
Of course, fan of open markets that I am, I visited the fish market right next to the river and was rewarded by seeing the main attraction of Valdivia – sea lions. I saw six, with one of them posing beautifully for a photo. Most likely because of the fish market and other food sources, there is a large resident colony of sea lions in the local waters, cohabiting peacefully with the human residents, boats, etc.