Punta Arenas, the southernmost city of Mainland South America
Punta Arenas is a city of approximately 150,000 inhabitants on the shores of the Strait of Magellan that links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, in the South end of South America. Also known as The Capital of Patagonia, it is actually seat of Government of the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic Territory.
Due to its proximity to World famous tourist destinations, Punta Arenas is a point of arrival for visitors from around the world who come either by air, land or sea cruises. Thus, about 300 km. North of the city we can find Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, a famous National Park, recently chosen by Virtualtourist.com as the Eighth Wonder of the World, with more than five million votes via Internet. Another major attraction is Isla Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire Island), that with its numerous Top-class fishing spots represents a great destination for recreational fishing.
Also the Antarctic Continent, a little over 3 hours flight from Punta Arenas offers immense possibilities to practice Adventure Travel and Ecological Tourism to a number of visitors that today reaches 40,000 a year. On the other hand many scientific expeditions to the White Continent, coming from different countries have chosen the city as their supply and departure point for their operations. Finally, another place of the sub Antarctic Patagonia that draws the attention is the famous and feared Cape Horn, an icon in the Maritime History of mankind, probably the World’s most dangerous sea passage that every year attracts adventurous sailors from around the world that dare to challenge it.
Places to visit around Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas itself has its own charms and interesting places. It is not a huge city, but it is a beautiful, well urbanized place, with social and cultural activities, many entertainment venues including places such as an international-class Casino, the Club Andino, a Mountain Sports Club with a fantastic panoramic view of the city which offers Winter and Summer activities, several Museums, etc. The commerce is also very well established, with good shopping malls and a Duty-free Zone where you can buy everything from a matchbox to a bus. The Casino is located next to the Arturo Prat pier and the Duty-free precinct is situated 3.5 Km. North of the Plaza de Armas Muñoz Gamero (Main Square).
In the center of the city is the Plaza de Armas, where we can see the monument to the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and also the Patagonian Indian, to which, according to the tradition, you have to kiss the foot to return to the city. In Avenida Bulnes (Bulnes Av.) is located the Monumento al Ovejero (Monument to the Shepherd), the sculpture depicts a typical Magellanic shepherd, his horse, dogs and a flock of sheep, as a tribute to what cattle raising and field workers represent for the region.
As regards to Museums, the most outstanding is the Maggiorino Borgatello Salesian Museum, located next to Don Bosco Church, which contains samples of Ethnology, History, old regional photographs, Flora and Fauna, the work of Salesian missionaries, indigenous crafts, fossils, petrified animals, etc. Another interesting museum that contains a lot of the regional history is the Museo Regional de Magallanes, located in Magallanes Street, in the former mansion of the Braun-Menendez pioneer family. You can also visit the Museo del Recuerdo (Museum of Memories), in an open space, in front of the Duty-free Zone, here you can see machinery, carriages, tools and houses of pioneer times.