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Mar. 31, 2017: Funicular at Santiago Metropolitan Park


You would think you were approaching the remains of a medieval fortification, set off in a corner of Santiago's Barrio Bellavista. And that would be the intent of the park planners who built this funicular in 1925 to get visitors to the National Zoo and to the top of San Cristobal Hill.


Inside, every detail is carefully antique. And fake. It's actually a modern steel-frame building faced with rusticated stone. But you can't say they failed: it's a real fooler, and our guide told us that visitors often simply refuse to believe it's not what it seems.


At the top of the line, there are more souvenir stands, cafes and pleasant walkways that go off in several directions. A few yards away, there's a station for the cable car that goes to the tops of other nearby hills, as well as to the giant statue of the Virgin Mary at the summit of Cerro San Cristobal.

San Cristobal and two adjoining hills have been brought together as the Santiago Metropolitan Park. At about 1700 acres, it's Chile's largest urban park, and has all sorts of recreational activities available.


And, as a last treat for those of us who may be obsessed with lettering or machinery, the upper station held this (sadly unkept; no visitors!) promise.



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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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