Santiago may not be a world-class shopping mecca, but quality handicrafts and antiques from around the country are widely available. Many visitors, of course, take home Chilean wines.
Handicrafts and Souvenirs
Downtown’s best souvenir shops are Chile Típico (Moneda 1025, Local 149, tel. 02/6965504) and Huimpalay (Huérfanos 1162, tel. 02/6721395), with premium prices. Cerro Santa Lucía’s Centro de Exposición de Arte Indígena (Alameda 499, tel. 02/6641352), in the semisubterranean Grutas del Cerro Welén, has the best Mapuche, Aymara, and Rapanui crafts; it’s open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily except Sunday.
Bellavista is the destination for lapis lazuli jewelry, at locales like Lapiz Lazuli House (Bellavista 014, tel. 02/7321419). Chile Vivo (Dardignac 15, tel. 02/7353959) displays a large crafts selection ranging from basketry to lapis lazuli, leather, silverwork, and wood carvings.
In the Bellas Artes neighborhood, Ona (Victoria Subercaseaux 299, tel. 02/6321859, www.onachile.com) carries a wide selection of quality Andean handicrafts from throughout Chile and even parts of Bolivia and Peru, commissioned from notable artisans. The best include delicately carved and painted wooden birds, krin (woven horsehair items including dolls and butterflies), Mapuche silver, textiles, and pre-Columbian reproductions.
In a category of its own, The Clinic El Bazar (José Miguel de la Barra 459, tel. 02/6320736, www.theclinicelbazar.cl) is the souvenir store for the iconoclastic bimonthly that’s Chile’s most-read magazine. This is the place to buy your Pinochet mugshot sleeveless T-shirt.
For the best antiques selection, visit Bellavista shops such as Arte del Mundo (Dardignac 67, tel. 02/7352507).
Books and Music
The Feria Chilena del Libro (Huérfanos 623, tel. 02/6396758) is a chain with several branches elsewhere. For academic and antiquarian tastes, try downtown’s Librería Luis Rivano (San Diego 119, Local 7) or Providencia’s Librería Chile Ilustrado (Av. Providencia 1652, tel. 02/2358145), in the same complex as the Phone Box Pub. At the same address, Books sells used English-language paperbacks at fairly high prices.
The English Reader (Av. Los Leones 116, Providencia, tel. 02/3347388) carries a large inventory of English-language books. Vitacura’s Librería Eduardo Albers (Av. Vitacura 5648, tel. 02/2185371) has a selection of guidebooks and other general-interest books in English and German.
For CDs or tapes of present and past Chilean music, try the Feria del Disco (Ahumada 286, tel. 02/6715290).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition