Punta Arenas

Overview

Introduction

Chilean Patagonia's most important city, Punta Arenas was an important supply station for ships prior to the completion of the Panama Canal and the home to mansions of the wool barons who transformed the economy of southernmost Chile and Argentina. The main sights are the Plaza Munoz Gamero, with its monument to Hernando de Magallanes (Magellan), the regional museum (formerly the Braun-Menendez mansion), and the cemetery—graves and monuments to the first settlers and pioneer families from throughout Europe, including Yugoslavs, Britons, Italians and Spaniards.

With the region's only commercial airport, Punta Arenas, 1,915 mi/3,085 km south of Santiago, is the gateway to Tierra del Fuego, large offshore penguin colonies, Torres del Paine National Park and other more remote destinations. Fort Bulnes, 35 mi/55 km south along the Strait of Magellan, is a reconstruction of Chile's initial 19th-century settlement; nearby is the site of Puerto de Hambre, whose 16th-century Spanish settlers starved to death during a bad winter.

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