Valparaíso, Chile

General Information

Regional secretariat


Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso

Registration Year


Historical function

Maritime trade

Location and site

The city of Valparaiso is located on central Chile’s Pacific coast. The historic quarter is located on the coastal plain and part way up the steep surrounding hills, where the city first developed. It is composed of five interlaced neighborhoods.

Urban morphology

The colonial city of Valparaíso presents an excellent example of late 19th-century urban and architectural development in Latin America. In its natural amphitheatre-like setting, the city is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides that are dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides.

The outstanding nature of the historic quarter of Valparaíso results from a combination of three factors, all associated with its role as a port: its particular geographical and topographical environment; its urban forms, layout, infrastructure and architecture; and its attraction to and influence by people from around the world. The character of Valparaíso was strongly marked by the geography of its location: the bay, the narrow coastal plains (largely artificial) and the steep hills scored by multiple ravines together created the city’s amphitheatre-like layout. Adaptation of the built environment to these difficult geographical conditions produced an innovative and creative urban ensemble that stressed the particularities of each architectural object, grounded in the technological and entrepreneurial mindset typical of the era. Consistent with its pre-eminence, the city was populated and influenced by people from around the world. The urban fabric and cultural identity of Valparaíso are thus distinguished by a diversity that sets it apart from other Latin American cities. From an urban perspective, the result of this challenging geography, modernizing impulse and intercultural dialogue is a fully original American city with the stamp of the late 19th century upon it.

Registration criteria

Criterion (iii): Valparaíso is an exceptional testimony to the early phase of globalization in the late 19th century, when it became the leading commercial port on the sea routes of the Pacific coast of South America.

Historical reference

  • Located on central Chile’s Pacific coast, the Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso represents an extraordinary example of industrial-age heritage associated with the international sea trade of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The city was the first and most important merchant port on the sea routes of the Pacific coast of South America that linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the Strait of Magellan.
  • It had a major commercial impact on its region from the 1880s until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. After this date its development slowed, allowing its harbor and distinctive urban fabric to survive as an exceptional testimony to the early phase of globalization.

Source :




Sr. Jorge Sharp

Ayuntamiento de Valparaíso

Condell 1490
Valparaíso, Chile

+ 56 (0)-32-2939230 ou +56-32-2939229
[email protected]

Sra. Adriana Saavedra Fuentes

Dir. de Desarrollo Económico y Cooperación Internacional
Municipalidad de Valparaíso

5632 293 9979
[email protected]