Donated to the Chilean army by the Sánchez Errázuriz family in 1976, the hacienda house of San José del Carmen de El Huique dates from 1828, though the hacienda itself was a 17th-century creation. Having spent more than two centuries in the same family, it’s one of the best survivors of its kind in the country; it’s also one of the largest, its facade measuring 250 meters across.
Most of the building and its numerous patios remain intact, but agrarian reform left the westernmost wing in the hands of a peasant cooperative that’s not been able to maintain it. For that matter, the army’s maintenance has been less than perfect, though the house itself is richly decorated with period art and furniture, as well as family heirlooms and photographs.
One of Huique’s owners, Federico Errázuriz Echaurren, served as Chile’s president from 1896 to 1901. Through most of its existence, the house hosted Santiago’s elite on their summer vacations from the capital as they arrived in their horse-drawn carriages or, from the early 20th, in their automobiles.
Open Wednesday–Sunday 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Casas del Huique (tel. 072/933083) is 19 kilometers north of Santa Cruz. Admission costs US$3.50, half that for seniors and children.