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Cousiño Palace – Santiago’s Slice of Royalty

Cousiño Palace – Santiago’s Slice of Royalty
By Carmina Rodríguez

(Oct. 10, 2003) It’s hard to write about the Cousiño Palace. It’s hard to describe such beauty, elegance and magnificence. It’s hard to imagine how much money the Cousiño family – which owned silver and coal mines during the XIX and XX centuries – actually had to build its own palace and fill it with such luxury and exquisiteness.

Even though it’s hard, we can make an attempt.

Upon leaving Toesca metro station a striking white palace on your left calls your attention. You walk towards it. You pass an impressive, tall, artistic iron fence that leads you to a well-kept garden where century-old trees continue to age. The garden is in fact a good place to get inspired and satisfy the photographer in you – once inside the palace you won’t be allowed to snap any pictures. Once you arrive to a small office, an attentive guard will charge your 2,000 pesos ticket (US$3) and while you pay, you see booklets about the palace’s history on sale, as well as pictures from the Palace inside.

At the main entrance, two impressive bronze statues and a neatly designed family seal on each corner of the ceiling already make an impression on you. Officials in the palace will in fact ask you to use protective cloth around your shoes to not damage the delicate, hand-painted ceramics on the floor.

While on tour with a very attentive staff – they won’t let you in without a tour – you will learn, for example, that the Cousiño Palace actually dates from 1870, that it was built by powerful mine and wine vineyard owner Luis Cousiño and that his wife, Isidora Goyenechea, had to finish the project after her husband died in Perú, that the palace had central heating and electricity, that its decoration objects were all brought from Europe, that you can find original paintings from classic, famous artists such as French painter Raymond Monvoisin and the Chilean artist Pedro Lira, and that the Palace had an elevator, one of the first in Latin America – dating from 1899.

All of that while you find yourself astonished at the thought and care put into its decoration, at the furniture specially made for the Cousiño Family in France with the family seal engraved in its wood, with the fine gold threads evidenced at the curtains in the play room, with the 1,200 lb. impressive chandelier hanging from the central hall, with the majesty of the “golden room,” whose name is not given in vain – all the golden color that you see is actually gold layers.

And if you are looking for other inspiring images, imagine the actors of the successful movie “Sub-Terra” performing in some of the luxurious lounges of the palace, an obvious filming place for a story inspired by the coal mine in Lota, owned by the Cousiño Family.