Birthplace of independence hero Bernardo O'Higgins and 250 mi/400 km south of Santiago, Chillan is a pleasant place to overnight if you're driving through central Chile. Little remains of the original town, called Chillan Viejo, founded in 1579 (and twice destroyed by earthquakes). The city has a modern cathedral, one of Chile's finest fresh produce markets, and a school with impressive murals by the famous Mexican painter David Siqueiros and his contemporary Xavier Guerrero.

The nearby ski and hot springs center of Nevados de Chillan has good slopes, luxury thermal-spa hotels and one of the longest ski seasons in Chile (May-October).

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