East of Cerro Santa Lucía , between Parque Forestal and the Alameda, Barrio Lastarria is a neighborhood of narrow streets and cul-de-sacs that’s home to several intimate restaurants and bars.
The barrio’s main axis is its namesake street, José Victorino Lastarria, whose Plaza del Mulato Gil de Castro is an adaptive reuse uniting several early-20th-century buildings into a commercial/cultural cluster with two notable museums: the Museo Arqueológico de Santiago  and the eye-catching Museo de Artes Visuales . Between Rosal and Merced, Lastarria has become an attractive pedestrian mall.
One long block east, originally built for a nitrate baron between 1916 and 1921, the Italian renaissance Palacio Bruna (Merced and Estados Unidos) soon became the U.S. ambassador’s residence; it later served as the consulate, until the new embassy was built in Las Condes .
To the north, the Mapocho’s banks and floodplain were home to slums and rubbish dumps until the early 20th century, when Mayor Enrique Cousiño redeveloped it as the Parque Forestal, stretching from Estación Mapocho on the west to the Pío Nono bridge on the east. Shaded with mature trees and dotted with statues and fountains, it’s a verdant refuge from summer’s midday heat.
Toward the west, directly north of Cerro Santa Lucía , stands the Palacio de Bellas Artes , the city’s traditional fine arts museum. South of the Plaza del Mulato Gil, dating from 1858, the neoclassical Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (Lastarria 124) is the neighborhood church and a national monument designed by French architect Brunet des Baines.
On the Alameda’s north side, east of Lastarria proper, a March 2006 fire destroyed the modern Edificio Diego Portales (1972), which became the dictatorship’s seat of government after the air force’s bombing and strafing left La Moneda unusable for eight years; because of its association with the dictatorship, there is pressure to permanently relocate its defense ministry offices and turn the site into a contemporary art museum. Just across the Alameda is the central campus of the Universidad Católica (1913), which has several other locales in Gran Santiago.