Exploring Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas Travel Blog

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Beautiful autumn trees in the Plaza de Armas, Punta Arenas

Did lots of sightseeing today in freezing Punta Arenas!  The sky is really clear and blue and the sun shines, but the wind whips through you.  Tomorrow we intend to wear thermals plus another 4 layers of clothing!  The sun also rises here quite late, you look out the window at 8am and it´s still quite dim and murky.  Brightens up nicely later on, though.

We started today with a walk down to the Naval Musuem, two floors in a little corner building near the harbour.  The corner window above the street has a small lighthouse in it, and this is operational while the museum is open.  There is quite a bit about the Chilean navy, of course, but also some interesting information about the rescue of Shackleton´s crew by a Chilean.

Melissa kissing the statue of a local indigenous leader in the town square, apparently this brings good luck!
  Also lots of memorabilia, and you can even stand on the ´bridge´of a sailing ship and steer with the wheel!  We watched a fascinating film about a square rigger sailing around Cape Horn in the 1920´s - absolutely horrifying, and made us feel seasick just watching it!  The man who made the film came from the mid-West of the USA and always dreamed of going to sea, so practiced what it would be like on board by climbing power poles and standing on his head at the top, just so he wouldn´t be afraid of heights.  We really enjoyed this film!

Next stop was the Regional Museum of Magallanes, which is found in the old Braun mansion, one of the original leading families of Punta Arenas.  The front rooms are as they would have been in the early 1900´s, and the furniture and decorations are lovely - obviously plenty of money around here in the old days.

Old diving suit inside the Naval Museum.
  At the rear is a museum of the local area, including fossils, Spanish colonial artefacts and items from more recent times.  In the cellar area, you can see what the servants´quarters and kitchen would have been like - actually not as spartan as we would have imagined.  Quite a small museum, really, but we enjoyed our time here.

We then walked over to the General Cemetery - not as big as the one in Santiago, but really shows how hard life was here in the early days.  Lots of the names were of British origin, plus Germans and eastern Europeans, but the hard fact is that many of the young men died in their 20´s and 30´s and there are many graves for young children and babies.

Braun Mansion, now housing the regional musuem.
  Sailing and farming was a very hard option here in the 1800´s and 1900´s.  Sara Braun, of the Braun mansion family, has her own mausoleum  and a private garden that takes up a few blocks of the cemetery, she obviously didn´t want to mix with the ´common´people after death!

Our last stop for the day was the Salesian Museum of Maggiorino Borgatello, which gave a good overview of the history of Chilean Patagonia and the Punta Arenas area in particular.  The museum has a lot in it, lots of stuffed animals and birds, plus very interesting displays and explanations - many in English- of the original inhabitants.  It has the original cross from the grave of the commander of the Beagle, which used to be in the English Cemetery until it started to deteriorate too much.

Dining room of the Braun Mansion.
  A replica stands in the cemetery now.  There is, obviously, also quite a bit about the Salesian order in Punta Arenas, which is quite interesting because one of the brothers was an intrepid explorer and became famous for his writings about Patagonia and its indigenous people.  There is also a large display about the petroleum industry in the area - this is all in Spanish, but lots of interesting artefacts and articles to look at, including the development of aviation and gold mining around Punta Arenas.  While we were in the musuem, we could hear a band practising the same song over and over again in the square behind the building.  In our humble opinions, they definitely need to keep practising!

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Beautiful autumn trees in the Plaz…
Beautiful autumn trees in the Pla…
Melissa kissing the statue of a lo…
Melissa kissing the statue of a l…
Old diving suit inside the Naval M…
Old diving suit inside the Naval …
Braun Mansion, now housing the reg…
Braun Mansion, now housing the re…
Dining room of the Braun Mansion.
Dining room of the Braun Mansion.
Old kitchen of the Braun Mansion, …
Old kitchen of the Braun Mansion,…
Contemplative angel in Sara Braun…
Contemplative angel in Sara Braun…
Trimmed cyprus in the cemetery.
Trimmed cyprus in the cemetery.
Punta Arenas
photo by: Kramerdude