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Pichilemu is a beach resort city located in central Chile and is the capital of Cardenal Caro Province. The city is home to five historic monuments of Chile, and was declared a "Zona Tipica" ( or Heritage Site) by the National Monuments Council in 2004.

The beaches of Pichilemu are considered some of the world's best for surfing. The city was conceived as a beach resort for upper-class Chileans by Agustin Ross Edwards, a Chilean politician and member of the powerful Ross Edwards family. Surfing competitions are frequently held at Punta de Lobos. There was once a dock in the city, but it burnt down during the Chilean Civil War of 1891.

The city is part of District N 35 and belongs to the 9th Senatorial constituency of the O'Higgins Region electoral division.


Early exploration

From the time of the Inca Empire to the Spanish conquest, Pichilemu was inhabited by Promaucaes. These natives were gatherers and fishermen who lived primarily along the Cachapoal and Maule rivers. During the colonial period, remaining Promaucaes were assimilated into Chilean society by a process of hispanicization and mestization. According to researcher Jose Toribio Medina in his book Resto Indigena de Chile , Pedro de Valdivia granted a large territory in what is now central Chile, to Juan Gomez de Almagro on February 24, 1544. Pichilemu was between the territories of the Palloquierbico, Topocalma, and Gulaquien. In the 17th century, Cahuil was established as the local centre of the region, also having a deputy.

The name Pichilemu comes from the Mapudungun words pichi (little) and lemu (forest).

Ortuzar family

Some of the first land owners of Pichilemu were the Ortuzar family. Daniel Ortuzar is credited as one of the founders of the original village of Pichilemu. The family of Ortuzar Cuevas, from San Antonio de Petrel Hacienda, constructed a mid-century maritime dock which served as a fishing port for some years. They also built homes along the dock on what is now Ortuzar Avenue.

Later, large land owners included Pedro Pavez Polanco and Hacienda of San Antonio de Petrel. These large land-holding families constructed historic homes and buildings over the years.

During the 1891 Chilean Civil War, Daniel Ortuzar and the priest of Alcones transferred prisoners to and from Pichilemu via the dock. During the war, the dock was deliberately destroyed in a fire. Later Lauriano Gaete and Ninfa Vargas founded Pichilemu by drawing the design of the city with the engineer Emilio Nichon, based on the Ortuzar avenue. After the civil war, Pichilemu obtained its formal name and status. By decree of President Jorge Montt and his Interior Minister, Manuel Jose Irarrazabal, the city was officially established on December 22, 1891. The first mayor of the city was Jose Maria Caro Martinez. He regularized the city plan in 1894. Subsequently, Pichilemu became the historic capital of the province called Cardenal Caro which is named after the first Chilean Catholic Church Cardinal.

Agustin Ross

Agustin Ross Edwards, a Chilean writer, Member of Parliament, minister and politician, was part of the powerful Ross Edwards family, the same family which founded El Mercurio years earlier.

Ross was the administrator of the great Juana Ross de Edwards fortune, the Nancagua Hacienda, which was located near the city of same name. Based on his European experiences, he bought a 300-hectare tract of land and named it "La Posada" , or Petren Fund, in 1885. At that time, it was merely a set of thick-walled barracks.

Agustin Ross turned Pichilemu into a summer resort town for affluent people from Santiago. He designed an urban setting of high environmental landscape value, transforming "La Posada" into a hotel . He also built a casino, several chalets, terraces, embankments, stone walls, a balcony facing the beach; and several large homes with building materials and furniture imported from France and England. Additionally, he built a park and a forest of more than 10 hectares. Ross, however, was not able to build a dock for the city, as he had planned.

In 1935, Ross' successors ceded to the Illustrious Municipality of Pichilemu, all the Ross constructions ; with the condition that the municipality hold them for recreation and public access. The old Casino (1905) and its gardens (1885) have since become an important part of the city itself, and have been declared Monumento Historico, by the National Monuments Council.

Geography and climate

Pichilemu is located west of San Fernando, Chile, just east of the Pacific Ocean. It is within a three-hour drive of the Andes Mountains. It is also near the coastal mountain range, which rises to 1,000 meters in altitude.

Pichilemu experiences annual rainfall averaging about , most of which falls from May to September .

The rest of the year is dry, often windy, and occasionally sees coastal fog. In summer, the average temperature is between and ; in winter, it is between and . Occasionally, the city receives winds as high as 150 km/h.

Although the majority of the forest areas around Pichilemu are covered in pine and eucalyptus plantations, a native forest (now Municipal Forest) remains. It contains species such as Litres, Quillayes, Boldos, Espinos and Peumos.


Population history


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Population history of Pichilemu

Census and polls

By the 17th century, Pichilemu had 1,468 inhabitants. In 1787, Pichilemu had 1,688 inhabitants, which grew to 7,787 inhabitants by 1907. However, the city's population progressively decreased: 7,424 in 1920; 6,929 in 1930; and 6,570 in 1940. In 1952, the city's population increased to 7,150 inhabitants; and in 1992, that figure had increased to 10,510. As of the 2002 census, 12,392 people reside in the city. The census classified 9,459 people (76.3%) as urban and 2,933 people (23.7%) as rural; with 6,440 men (52.0%) and 5,952 women (48.0%). The area of Pichilemu is . According to the CASEN 2002 census, 544 inhabitants (4.4%) of the population live in extreme poverty compared to the average in the greater O'Higgins Region of 4.5%; and 1,946 inhabitants (15.7%) live in mild poverty, compared to the regional average of 16.1%.

Government and politics

Pichilemu, along with the communes of Placilla, Nancagua, Chepica, Santa Cruz, Pumanque, Palmilla, Peralillo, Navidad, Lolol, Litueche, La Estrella, Chile, Marchihue and Paredones, is part of the Electoral District N 35 and belongs to the 9th Senatorial Constituency (O'Higgins) of the electoral division of Chile.

Jorge Vargas was the Mayor of Pichilemu for more than 10 years, from 1997 to 2007, until he was accused of theft. He was succeeded by Victor Rojas, who was later accused of the same crime as Vargas.

The last popularly-elected mayor was Marcelo Cabrera, elected in 2008 with 42.08% of the vote. He served from May 2009 to August 2009 due to legal action. The municipal council selected Roberto Cordova as the new mayor on September 9, 2009, almost a year after the municipal elections. The current councilors are Aldo Polanco Contreras, Andrea Aranda Escudero, Viviana Parraguez Ulloa, Juan Cornejo Vargas and Marta Urzua Pua.

From 2007 until 2009, Pichilemu had seven mayors, four of whom were temporary.

National Monuments

Pichilemu city itself was declared a Typical Zone by the National Monuments Council of Chile, by decree 1097 on December 22, 2004.

The city has another five National Monuments: The Ross Park, the Ross Casino, El Arbol Tunnel, the old railway station, and the Water Horse.

Ross Casino

The old Ross Casino is located on Agustin Ross Avenue, in front of Ross Park. The three-floor casino was constructed with imported materials in late 1800s by Agustin Ross. Upon its completion, it housed the first mail and telegraph service and a large store.

The first casino in Chile was opened in this building on January 20, 1906. It operated until 1932, when the Vina del Mar Casino was opened. After its closure, it became a hotel, which was in business until the 1980s.

The old casino was renovated and reopened in 2009 as a cultural arts center. It currently houses several gallery spaces and the public library. During its restoration, renovators found many historical artifacts, including a copy of Las Ultimas Noticias from February 1941 when the Ross Casino served as a hotel; an American telephone battery dating from 1909 to 1915; and a tile from the casino's ceiling with signatures and drawings by the workers during its construction in 1914.

Ross Park and Hotel

The Ross Park was created by Agustin Ross in 1885, and remodeled in December 1987.

The park is located on Agustin Ross Avenue, in front of the old Ross Casino. The hotel was originally named Great Hotel Pichilemu . The once grand Ross Hotel was constructed at the same time. Although the hotel, one of the oldest in Chile, is still partially open to guests, it is in a high state of disrepair.

The original park boasts 100-year-old native Chilean palms (Phoenix canariensis) and many green spaces, and its recent restoration has made it into an attractive walking destination. The majority of the grand houses in the park are in use as private homes.

Both the park and the former casino were named National Monuments on February 25, 1988.

Old rail station

The old railway station, also known as Ex Estacion de Ferrocarriles, is a wood construction dated circa 1925. It is located in front of the Petrel Lagoon, near Daniel Ortuzar Avenue. It remained in operation until the 1990s, and became a National Monument on September 16, 1994. It has since become an arts and culture center, and tourism information office. It exhibits decorative and practical objects from the 1920s, and features many old suits.

Railway history

of railway line were constructed in the O'Higgins Region, but only still exists. The San FernandoPichilemu section was constructed over a period of 57 years between 1869 and 1926. Passenger services operated on the line until 1986 and freight services were operational until 1995.

In 2006, the PeralilloPichilemu section was removed completely.

Important places

Pichilemu has many attractive places. One is the Municipal Forest , a forest donated by the family of Agustin Ross in 1935. The main access to the forest is located in front Ross Casino, near Paseo el Sol (dirt road). The forest has a footpath surrounded by palms, pinos and many other varieties of trees .

Another important place is the Indigenous Midden , an archaeological site from pre-hispanic times. It located in a place where a fisherman group allegedly lived, from Punta de Lobos and south from Los Curas Lagoon. Los Curas Lagoon is a natural environment used for various eco-tourist activities such as fishing, is located south of Pichilemu. The Indigenous Middens live close to the lagoon. Another lagoon, the Laguna del Perro is located south from Pichilemu. This lagoon is used for recreational activities, and is the most well-known lagoon in the area.

Villa Los Navegantes is a village of Pichilemu, approximately in size, which was founded in 1997. After five years of construction, approximately 30 houses were built. It has a small sports court where residents can play football, basketball and tennis.

Laguna El Alto is a small, rain-fed lagoon located at Chorrillos Beach. Often used for camping and picnics, the lagoon can be accessed from Pichilemu, traveling to the north by Chorrillos beach, approximately an hour and a half drive. Poza del Encanto is another lagoon, located from Pichilemu. It is home to a large variety of unique native fauna. Nilahue Lagoon is located from Pichilemu. It has beaches, including El Bronce, El Maqui, and Laguna El Vado.

One of the most important places in Pichilemu is St. Andrew Church of Ciruelos, located from Pichilemu, in Ciruelos. It was constructed in 1779, and its altar was built in the 1940s. It has a harmonium, confessional boxes and very old images of saints. Its original image of St. Andrew was made with papier mache. The old parish was created by Archbishop Valdivieso in 1864. The first Chilean Cardinal, Monsignor Jose Maria Caro Rodriguez, was baptized there. The church is dedicated to St. Andrew and every November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew is celebrated there.

The Rural Kid Museum was created as an initiative of the teacher Carlos Leighton and his students. It is a modern building, but features traditional architecture. Three rooms contain an interesting collection of stone tools, arrowheads and clay tools made by the indigenous people of the region. Also on display are domestic tools from the first colonists during the post-hispanic era.

El Copao is a hamlet located east of Pichilemu. Its main industry is domestic tool production, using clay as a raw material. Panul (pronounced Pagnul) is a settlement located from Pichilemu. Its name in Mapudungun means medicinal herb. Panul produces tools, made with locally obtained clay. Cahuil is a small settlement located south of Pichilemu. Its name in Mapudungun means "parrot place". The Cahuil lagoon is used for fishing, swimming, and kayaking; kiteboarding lessons are offered on the lagoon. Its bridge is a car crossing, and has a view of the Cahuil zone. The bridge also provides access to Curico, Lolol, Bucalemu, and other nearby places.


Surfing is one of the tourist attractions, particularly at Punta de Lobos. According to travel guide Fodor's,

Every October and December, the International Championship of Surf is held at La Puntilla Beach. Punta de Lobos hosts the Campeonato Nacional de Surf each summer.

The American singer and surfer Jack Johnson recorded the music video for his song "Breakdown" in Pichilemu, in 2005.


Pichilemu has many beautiful and expansive dark sand beaches. The water is cool year-round, though many tourists choose to swim at the shore break during the summer months. Common activities include bodyboarding, surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

The northernmost of the beaches is San Antonio Beach or Main Beach , which is located in front of the Ross Park and boasts dressing rooms, bathrooms and car parks. It is popular for surfing. Near the beach and at Ross Park itself are balustrades and long stairs, dating from the early 1900s. There is a balcony over the rocks, located at the southern portion of the beach.

Las Terrazas Beach is busiest during the summer months. Several surf schools, La Ola Perfecta and Lobos del Pacifico, are located nearby, as is the Fishermen Creek, where fishermen sell their fish. Located south of the town and around the other side of the Puntilla, Little Hell Beach is rocky and beautiful. It is ideal for tide-pool lovers and is also widely used for fishing. South of Infiernillo is the Beautiful Beach , which is popular for walking and fishing.

Further south, from Pichilemu, Punta de Lobos features a beach sheltered from the southern winds. It is an increasingly popular destination for tourists and surfers. Several surf contests are held there, including an international big-wave contest during the Chilean fall. The size of waves varies throughout the year, but large swells in fall and winter can reach heights of up to 50 feet (15 metres). It is widely considered one of the best beaches for surfing worldwide.


Pichilemu has many schools, but the most important are: Charly's School, a primary and secondary school located in El Llano; Escuela Digna Camilo Aguilar , a primary school located near Charly's school; Colegio Libertadores , a primary school in Infiernillo; Colegio Preciosa Sangre , a primary and secondary school located near El Llano; Colegio Divino Maestro , a primary school located near Pueblo de Viudas; and Escuela Pueblo de Viudas , another primary school located in Pueblo de Viudas.

Other schools of note include Liceo Agustin Ross Edwards is a secondary school located in El Llano, near Escuela Digna Camilo Aguilar and Charly's School; and Jardin Amanecer , a kindergarten located also in El Llano.

In 2009, a cheerleaders team from Colegio Preciosa Sangre participated in a championship in the United States, eventually receiving awards for their efforts.

See also

Villa Los Navegantes

List of cities in Chile

[[:Category:People from Pichilemu|People from Pichilemu]]

External links

Official website

Official Cahuil website

News site of Pichilemu

Junta de Vecinos Infiernillo

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