Internet Embassy Santiago

La Moneda Presidential Palace

La Moneda Presidential Palace
Santiago’s imposing presidential palace, La Moneda, was not originally planned as the hub of political power in Chile. A clue to its origins lies in the name, La Moneda, literally “The Coin” in Spanish, betraying the building’s true roots as a mint. Towards the end of the 18th century, authorities in Madrid commissioned the building and set Italian architect Joaquín Toesca the task of designing the colonial money-making site. Completed in 1805, the building’s purpose changed radically in 1846 when then President Manuel Bulnes moved into the property with his family.

Another unique feature to La Moneda is the guided visit it offers, which needs to be arranged in advance. Visitors can hear stories of where crucial decisions were made and glimpse luxurious stately rooms where powerful men decided and continue to decide Chile’s future. An on-site chapel is also part of the tour. On a recent visit, Argentine President Nestór Kirchner asked to be shown the room where Allende killed himself with a rifle that Fidel Castro had given him.

On the outside, visitors can see the symbolic Morande 80 door where Allende used to greet Santiago’s poor. It was obliterated during the 1973 attacks, but restored as part of the ceremonies to mark the 30th anniversary of the coup earlier this year.

La Moneda, Metro La Moneda, gates open 10 – 6 weekdays. For guided visits, go to www.presidencia.cl or call: 6904000, ext. 4311.