City Tour of La Serena and Coquimbo / Coquimbo Port / Vicuña and the Elqui Valley / Ovalle and Limarí Valley National Parks Monuments and ReservationHome Page









Nestled in the arm of the hills, sloping gently down to meet the sea, La Serena rises from an oasis in the semi-desert of the `Norte Chico' or 'Little North'. Miles of startlingly arid, rocky landscape suddenly give way to cool verdure and fertility, surprising the weary traveller who stops to rest, soaks up the sunshine, enjoys the white sandy beaches of the Pacific and wonders at the natural beauty of the surroundings. The city of La Serena lies some 470 km. north of the Chilean capital, Santiago, and today boasts a population of approximately 210,299. Steeped in history, it was founded in 1544 by Juan Bohon by order of the conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, as a port and place of rest for his journeys along the Pacific coast.





In spite of subsequent sackings, first by the indigenous population and again in 1680 by the pirate Sharp, the town maintained a constant growth, boosted by the mining and industrial boom of the nineteenth century




Today, together with Santiago, La Serena forms one of the only two Chilean towns that maintain their original site and outline, preserved since the sixteenth century. Pedro de Valdivia was not the first, however, to recognize the worth of this area; an indigenous population was well established long before the arrival of the Spanish. Principally hill farmers, but also highly skilled ceramists, the Diaguitas inhabited the exquisitely beautiful Elqui Valley, which stretches from the Serena coast up away into the mists of the Andes: A narrow strip of highly fertile land that today is the source of the sweet grape that is used to create the famous Chilean national drink, Pisco. It is in this setting of abundance and fertility, of clear skies and cool sea breezes, that the traveller finds La Serena, terracotta-tiled roofs, the pastel shades of its elegant colonial buildings and softly scented hibiscus and bougainvillea.



That together invite the visitor to explore its streets and avenues, its gardens and parks, its churches and hidden corners, and to breathe the air of its history This elegance and harmony is not accidental; President Gabriel González Videla (1946-52), himself born and raised in the town, decided to preserve the city's architectural unity by force of law, implementing the "Plan Serena".  Such legislation, unique to La Serena in Chile, has allowed the town to grow whilst maintaining its style and personality.
The City of Bell Towers, the City of Carnations, La Serena welcomes the visitor, inviting him to become part of the experience, to immerse himself in its wealth of history, to take pleasure in its warm climate, and enjoy its many attractions.








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