November 21, 2009, early afternoon
Our city tour concluded with a drive through the older residential areas of the city. We passed the ballet theater:
(I kind of love the idea of there being a ballet about Zorro), and more churches, including one built by the Jesuits:
(that's their motto above the door) and the Basílica de Los Sacramentinos:
whose design is inspired by - not to say ripped off from - Sacre Coeur in Paris.
This trip is educational: I'm learning stuff! For instance, one of our fellow travelers speaks fluent Spanish - she was born in Spain and taught Spanish for many years. She explained some of the sights to us, like this statue:
It commemorates a man called Ercilla whom none of us had ever heard of. Turns out he was a soldier during the conquest of Chile, and he wrote an epic poem, La Araucana, about the wars with the Mapucho Indians, aka the Araucanians. It's sort of the Chilean national poem. He had great respect for the native peoples and since he was in the wars himself his poem is treated as accurate history. So that's kind of neat!
The base of this statue
carries the name of the Batalla de el Roble, so I assume it depicts Bernardo O'Higgins, who led that battle in 1813 or so. I don't remember if I mentioned Bernardo before: he was basically Chile's George Washington, but with a funnier name. Poor Bernardo - he was a big independence fighter, served as Supreme Dictator of Chile (great title!) after they won freedom from Spain, and then he was exiled and never got to return to his beloved Chile - and all I can think about is his wildly incongruous name.