Antofagasta Tourist Attractions
Antofagasta (pop. 225,000) is the largest city in the Norte Grande. The port city was founded in 1870 and originally called Chimba. Like the rest of the region, the city receives very little rainfall but does see the occaisional severe storm.
Chacabuco is an abandoned nitrate town which closed down in the late 1930s. It was later used by the Pinochet government in the 1970s as a concentration camp. Many of the remaining buildings are open to visitors, including the workers' housing, the church, theater, and the mineral plants.
In the Plaza Colón, the main square in Antofagasta, stands a miniature Big Ben clock tower donated by the British in 1910. There is also a band shell with British and Chilean flags tiled into the design.
February 14 Celebration
The founding of Antofagasta is celebrated on February 14. Firework displays and other festivities throughout the city mark the occaision.
Pinacoteca Andrés Sabella
The Pinacoteca Andrés Sabella, in the Port Authority building near the pier, celebrates the life of poet Andrés Sabella.
Ruinas de Huanchaca
From the hillside remains of a 19th C British-Bolivian silver-refining plant there are good views over they city.
Iquique was originally a small village of Chango Indians who subsisted on fishing and trade. The town grew in importance following the Spanish invasion due to the wealth of minerals and nitrate in the area. Iquique eventually became one of the country's main nitrate ports and a strong infrastructure was developed.Today Iquique has a population of approximately 140,000 and fishing is once again the primary industry. The city is also well known for it's shopping and duty free zone which attracts Chileans from all over the country.
Edificio de la Aduana & Museo Naval
The colonial-style customhouse, Edificio de la Aduana, was built in 1871. It is a unique structure with meter-think walls and an octagonal tower. The building was used by Peru to hold prisoners during the War of the Pacific. Today it houses the naval museum.
The Zona Franca is a major duty free zone and huge shopping district. The area is well known throughout the country and Chilean's come from all over to shop here. Christmas is a particularly busy time in Iquique.
Museo Histórico Militar del Primer Cuerpo del Ejército
The Museo Histórico Militar del Primer Cuerpo del Ejército offers displays on the Chilean army and various historical events.
Playa Brava is a scenic area with a beautiful beach and the nearby dunes of Cerro Drágons. However, large waves and rip currents can make swimming here dangerous.
Playa Cavancha is the most popular beach around Iquique, with good swimming and surfing.