Santiago Chile history begins in 1541. It was during this year that the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, founded the city. Indigenous peoples already populated the area, and conflicts were relatively commonplace in the early days. Due in part to these conflicts and the fact that the Spanish settlers had a shortage of food supplies made the first couple of years particularly precarious for the newcomers.
The threat of attack from indigenous peoples did not disappear during Santiago Chile’s colonial days, though the city managed to grow at a relatively healthy rate. By 1580, approximately 40 city blocks were inhabited, and livestock flourished in the surrounding lands. The first cathedral was built in the early 1560's, and in 1618, the Church of San Francisco was established. All this considered, it wasn’t until the late 1700's that Santiago Chile really started to take on the role of a true city. The Calicanto Bridge, which spanned the Mapocho River, was completed in 1779. in 1791, a major road linking Santiago to Valparaiso was developed. These were among the most significant developments of the time.
The colonial history of Santiago Chile ended with the Battle of Chacabuco on February 12, 1817. The Spanish forces were defeated and the city declared its independence that same day. Santiago quickly began to grow. By the mid-1800's, the city was home to more than 100,000 inhabitants, and this number grew to nearly 200,000 by the year 1885. Both urban and cultural growth were supported during the "Republic" era.
In the 1930's, Santiago Chile started to take on a more modern, industrialized role. The hope of finding work in the changing city led numerous Chileans from the countryside to emigrate to the capital. While not everyone found work, the city continued to grow steadily. Things effectively came to a stop in 1973, however. At least for a little while. This was the year of the notorious military coup that saw General Augusto Pinochet take control of Chile. Santiago was at the heart of this coup, and in many ways, both the city and the country still have some healing to do. Many people died or disappeared during the reign of Pinochet, and it is very much a stain on Chile's history.
Today, Santiago has its fair share of problems, as is true of any major city. Pollution and congestion are two of the main issues. That being said, it is a truly dynamic and beautiful city. There is a very modern feel to the Chilean capital, and it can make for a wonderful place to visit for numerous reasons. Santiago visitors who wish to learn more about the city’s history won’t want to miss the National Historical Museum. It is found in the Royal Palace at the Plaza de Armas and offers excellent insight into the complete history of Chile on the whole.