Valparaíso is a city of almost 300,000 people (2017) on the Pacific coast of Central Chile. Frequently referred to as simply Valpo, it is about 120 km west of the capital, Santiago de Chile. The city is widely known for its bohemian culture, brightly colored houses, and beautiful seaside views.
Valparaiso is an important port town, and has been for hundreds of years, resulting in its being made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Its location on the shipping routes before the completion of the Panama Canal, has left a legacy that still can be seen in various features of the old port town. Its location in the earthquake zone, and the disastrous earthquake of 1906, is another legacy. There have been more recent earthquakes as well.
The old town is surrounded with features that reflect the rich maritime heritage, and an important location of Chilean national pride - where its naval mastery was challenged and maintained.
When roaming the chaotic, hilly streets, and taking in the views and ambience, you are not just experiencing the port and the colorful houses, or the funicular railways, but a complex history of Chilean national identity and politics.
The old town can be compared to the more modern Vina del Mar just to the north, and the hinterland that leads over to Santiago.
There is also an active nightlife and a constantly changing variety of artistic events.