Beset by natural disasters throughout its history, modern Chillán lacks even the limited colonial character of heartland cities such as Talca . But the birthplace of Chilean liberator Bernardo O’Higgins compensates with museums, its renowned Mexican murals—reason enough for stopping in the city—and the most vibrant fruit-and-vegetable market in the entire country. In addition to O’Higgins, Chillán has recently honored internationally known concert pianist Claudio Arrau with his own museum.
Chillán (population 148,015) is 407 kilometers south of Santiago  and 270 kilometers north of Temuco  by the Panamericana, which bypasses the city to the west. Between the Río Ñuble to the north and the Río Chillán to the south, its unstable alluvial soils have probably contributed to its repeated natural disasters.
Bounded by Libertad, 18 de Septiembre, Constitución, and Arauco, Plaza Bernardo O’Higgins marks the city center, though there are several satellite plazas. The divided, tree-lined Avenidas Ecuador, Brasil, Collín, and Argentina circumscribe the central core, an area 12 blocks square. Three blocks west of the plaza, Avenida O’Higgins provides access to the northbound Panamericana (toward Santiago) and the southbound Panamericana (toward Los Ángeles  and Temuco ) via Chillán Viejo.
By Bus: For long-distance services, the main facility is the Terminal María Teresa (Av. O’Higgins 010, tel. 042/272149), just north of Avenida Ecuador. A few companies, such as Tur-Bus, also use the dingy Terminal de Buses Interregionales (Constitución 01, tel. 042/221014), and several others have ticket offices in the immediate vicinity.
By Train: From Santiago , eight EFE trains daily arrive at and leave from Estación Chillán (Av. Brasil s/n, tel. 043/222267), at the west end of Avenida Libertad. Additional EFE trains between Santiago and Concepción  (two daily) and Santiago and Temuco  (one daily) also stop here.