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La Serena, Chile

La Serena is a Chilean city and commune in Elqui Province and capital of the Coquimbo Region. Founded in 1544, it is the country's third oldest city after Santiago and Arica. It is located 471 km north of Santiago, and has a communal population of 190,716 area, the country's fourth largest conurbation , which includes nearby Coquimbo. and an area of 1,892.80 km. It is one of the fastest-growing areas of Chile, witnessing a population increase of 32.6% between 1992 and 2002.


La Serena was first founded by Spaniard Captain Juan Bohon in September 4, 1544 on the orders of Pedro de Valdivia in order to provide a sea link between Santiago and Lima. In 1549 the town was totally destroyed by local Indians and re-founded the same year by Captain Francisco de Aguirre in a safer location. The town has retained its historic architecture and this, along with a selection of beaches , has caused the city to become a significant tourist centre, attracting many foreigners (most of them Argentines from San Juan and Mendoza provinces) during January, and later Santiago residents fleeing February heat.

Its traditional architecture consists of a series of housing and public buildings, of late 19th-century vintage, built with wood from the US state of Oregon brought to Chile as counterweight in sailing vessels coming to Coquimbo, the nearby port, to load copper and other minerals for transport back to the US. This Oregon pine and the use of adobe create the genuine image of the city.

There is also a number of remarkable and valuable small churches built of sedimentary stone quarried 5 km to the north of the Elqui River, having a characteristic color and texture formed by myriad small shells. These churches are all roughly 350 years old and have undergone restoration to varying degrees, bringing them back to their original form. San Francisco, San Agustin, Santo Domingo are the names of a few of them.

The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of La Serena. The Cathedral, built from the same stone, dates from the 19th century. It must be said that although it lacks the same historical value as the older churches, this is a stone building in a country prone to seismic activity, and has survived various earthquakes. Indeed, during centuries of existence, there is almost no visible damage. All of these churches, along with others of minor importance, provide a unique urban landscape, an image for the city, giving it the nickname "The City of Churches."

A few of the major sectors are: El Centro ("downtown"), Penuelas (actually a suburb between La Serena and its sister city Coquimbo), San Joaquin (neighborhood on a hill overlooking the ocean), La Florida, Las Companias ("the companies"), Cerro Grande ("big hill"), La Antena and the new El Milagro ("the miracle") development.


La Serena in the last 20 years has grown 100%. The commune has a surface of 1,892.8 km (730.8 sq. miles), with a population of 160,148, according to the census of 2002, of which 77,385 were men and 82,763 were women. The population growth since 1992 was 32.6 %. Of the whole, 147,815 live in urban areas and 12,333 in rural areas. In the city of La Serena, proper, 155,815 persons live, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Chile (INE), based on the census of 2002. The statistics supposed for 2008 according to estimations of the INE say that the population of La Serena will be 205,120 persons (December) and 244,070 for 2012.


The city is located mainly on several oceanic terraces, with the rest of the city on several small hills and fertile plains.

The city is divided into sectors. In the northern part the sector of "Las Companias", subdivided in two sub sectors named "Compania Alta" and Compania Baja. In the north area Caleta San Pedro. In the southern part they find the sectors of "La Pampa", "San Joaquin" and "El Milagro". In the eastern part the sectors are "La Antena" , "Juan XXIII", "La Florida", "Colina el Pino" and University Neighborhood. Finally, in the western part one finds the sector of the Avenida del Mar.


The climate in the city of La Serena is similar to nearby places in that it is clearly seasonal - in Summer there is an absence of precipitation, but with abundant morning cloudiness and drizzles. These dissipate around noon, giving way to clear skies and hot temperatures that range between 12 and 18 degrees Celsius. In winter the temperatures descend to between 6 and 12 degrees Celsius. Being located in a coastal zone the minimums and maximums are moderated by the maritime influence and the temperature of the ocean Pacific Ocean. Beginning in May the region's climate is strongly affected by the Humboldt Current that includes the zone of Atacama Region. Winter (specifically in June to August) is the rainy season, with a total precipitation approximately annually in the zone in a normal year, a notable exception being the year 1997 which experienced a total rainfall in the city near .


La Serena belongs to the Constituency n 7 and to 4 Senatorial Circumscription (Coquimbo). It is represented in the Deputies' Chamber of the National Congress by the deputies Marcelo Diaz of the PS and Mario Bertolino of RN. In turn, it is represented in the Senate by the senators Evelyn Matthei of the UDI and Jorge Pizarro of the PPC .

The administration of the commune corresponds to the Illustrious Municipality of La Serena, which maximum authority is the Mayor Raul Saldivar Auger of the PS, who relies on the advising of the Town council, integrated for:

Margarita Riveros Moreno PPD

Yuri Olivares Olivares [Independiente]

Mary Yorka Ortiz Reyes RN

Roberto Jacob Jure PRSD

Jorge Hurtado Torrejon RN

Floridor Pinto Cortes UDI

Amador Munoz Silva PS

Lombardo Toledo Escorza PPC


In the last decades, tourism has turned into one of the most important economic activities. The population doubles in the summer months, principally for the beaches, recreational activities, musical festivals, concerts, and Fashion Week. In addition the city is an obligatory stop for hundreds of pilgrims that arrive in the city of Coquimbo, where during The Serenade they find lodging for visiting the zone and Valle de Elqui.

In this city there are located branches of the more important chain stores of the country, Mall Plaza La Serena, which has the national shops Falabella and Paris. Also Mall Puerta Del Mar, contains 2 supermarkets, and regional chains, such as You Multistretch, The Elegant One, and .shops for the home and construction, such as Jumbo Jet, Leader, Ripley, Holy Isabel, Deca, Gentle Jonhsons, Easy and Homecenter Sodimac, The downtown is one of the places with major economic and financial institutions of the Coquimbo Region.


The old town of the city presents the only architecture in the country, dividing for being the biggest Typical Zone of Chile, adempas of being the zone of architectural and historical preservation inside an urban, more important zone of the Country. The churches stand out with beautiful models of belfries, there being gained the title of City of the belfries.

Church Cathedral of La Serena (Historical Monument from 1981) Construction initiated by the French architect Jean Herbage, the year 1844, and dedicated in 1856. It is the biggest temple of the city, constructed in neoclassic style, measures 60 meters of extension per 20 meters of width, with 3 central bodies. Inside one finds the organ donated by the filantropa calm down Juana Ross de Edwards. The belfry dates back from the 20th century.

The beaches of the Avenida Del Mar are one of the most crowded walks of La Serena, joiningEl Faro Monumental, in the south with an extension of 6 km and adjacent with Penuelas's beach (Coquimbo). However, the beaches of La Serena have very rough water and are not suitable for swimming. In comparison Coquimbo's beaches, such as The Horse-shoe have very calm water and clean sands.

This avenue includes 12 sections of beaches known like: The Faro, The Forts, Tame, White, The Boat, 4 Corners, The Sea-coast, The Fisherman, The Corsair, Sea horse, The Gulls and Singing of the Water. All of them except the beacon are suitable for the swimming and aquatic and nautical sports. In the recent years the La Serena Song Festival (created in 2004) has been acquiring national importance, due to the great quality of the invited artists. Also projects have been approved as a new international airport. Real estate development along the beach has created a tourist - residential development from the Elqui river up to the lighthouse.


La Serena relies on diverse means of transport to connect the downtown with the peripheral neighborhoods and Coquimbo, such as collective taxis, taxis and tourbus. In the past the city was the principal railway center for passengers' transport to travel to the interior zone of Vicuna and Ovalle Today the only railroad that even passes along some sectors of the city is the one from the mine of Iron El Romeral, which takes the ore to Guayacan's port in Coquimbo.

Also it relies on a Terminal de Buses, that provides transport from La Serena to most of the country and an airport, with daily flights to Santiago, Antofagasta, Arica, Copiapo and other destinations. Today there is a project to move the La Florida Airport to another area near to Tongoy, Coquimbo, due to the population growth of the current area"La Florida", where there are residential areas very near the airport with the danger that this implies.


The city has a soccer team called Club de Deportes La Serena which plays in the First Division of the Chilean league of football. This team plays in the first division of the [[Liga Chilena de Futbol: Primera Division|Chilean football league]]. Their home games are played at the La Portada stadium, which has a capacity of approximately 18,000 seats. Their biggest rival is Coquimbo Unido. They are nicknamed "Los Papayeros", because of the papayas that are grown near La Serena in the Elqui Valley.

Since 2007, there is a tournament professional tennis, the Challenger de La Serena, in the fields of the Campus Trentino of the University of the Mar, in which the first champion was the Argentine tennis player Mariano Zabaleta. The above mentioned enclosure was the location for the series of the Davis Cup between Chile and Russia at the beginning of February 2007.


Schools and high schools

In the commune of La Serena one finds a wide variety of schools, lyceums and colleges. Most of them are concentrated in the city of La Serena. It hosts a great quantity of schools and lyceums (both public and free), as well as colleges .

Lyceum Gregorio Cordovez: Founded in 1821 for Bernardo O'Higgins, is the second oldest in the history of Chile.

College and universities

the headquarters of the state university are located In La Serena:

University of La Serena, headquarters La Serena, with 4 campuses .

Universities outside La Serena are Pedro de Valdivia University, Santo Tomas University, Technological University of Chile (INACAP) and the Central University.


La Serena is home to several headquarters for major observatories including, Las Campanas, Cerro Tololo and Gemini. Also La Silla observatory has an office in La Serena.

International relations

Twin towns sister cities

La Serena, Chile is twinned with:

Tenri, Japan (since 1966)

Krakow in Poland (since 1995)

Castuera, Spain

Campanario, Spain

Millbrae (California), United States

Hilo, United States

Madrid, Spain



External links

Municipality site

La Serena tourism guide

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article La Serena, Chile

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