Cerro San Cristóbal is a hill in central Santiago, Chile and you can see it most parts of the city. My hostel is just a block away from the hill. Weekends there are loads of people riding their bicycles or walking up this hill. It rises about 300 m above the rest of Santiago and is the second highest point in the city, after Cerro Renca.
The summit of Cerro San Cristóbal can also be reached by using the Funicular that goes pass the Zoo. I opted to ride to the top and because it was a lovely sunny day I planned on walking all the way down again. The lady at the information desk told me that it should take me about 40 minutes to an hour to reach the bottom again and that it was a beautiful walk. So I was quite excited as I headed up in the Fenucular and saw the city spreading out in front of me.
Cerro San Cristóbal was named by the Spanish- Chilean San Cristóbal family, although it´s original name isTupahue (mapudungun: “place of god or gods). The San Cristóbal family held a quarry on the hills south side, close to the Mapocho River. That´s the reason why it is called San Cristóbal even though it has a statue of Virgin Mary on the top.
When I got to the summit I was greeted by what looked like hundreds of cyclists. I was later told that cycling up the hill is a big activity for cyclists on weekends. It looks like a lot of fun and I would definitely get myself a bicycle if I was going to be living here.
On its summit there is a sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, it has a 22 meter statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an amphitheater and chapel. I passed the small chapel on my to the top but couldn’t go in as there was a service in progress.
On the pedestal of the statue of the Immaculate Conception there is a small chapel in which his holiness John Paul II prayed and blessed the city of Santiago on April 1, 1987. It is locked so I could only peer through the window to see what the small chapel looked like inside.
It was quite quiet and peaceful considering all the people walking around. It was only on my way out that I spotted the signs of silence please posted all around the summit.
From the summit of the hill I had fabulous views over Santiago with the snow tipped Andes in the background. It was just a shame that from here you can actually see the layer of smog covering the city. They say it clears a bit after it rains and in summer the summer winds blow it away. But unfortunately it spoils the view a bit and I was reluctant to walk back down, knowing that I would be descending into this smog once again!
As I made my way down the hill I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere as I ended up walking along a very steep dirt road. It was quite a difficult walk down and took me way longer than expected. Once at the bottom I found out that I should have followed the tarred road which would have taken me past all the parks situated on this hill. Will have to come back next weekend and walk the other way.