Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Mussel and salmon farming in Patagonia as we approach Chiloe Island, southwest of Puerton Montt, Chile

Mussel and salmon farming in Patagonia as we approach Chiloé Island, southwest of Puerton Montt, Chile

Castro sits centrally located on the island of Chiloé, which, if it weren’t separated by Canal Chacao, would be a continuation of Chile’s mainland coastal range. It is southwest of our previous port, Puerto Montt (and the nearby Puerto Varas), at the northern end of Chilean Patagonia.

A lone fishing boat heading out from Castro, Chiloe Island (Patagonia), Chile

A lone fishing boat heading out from Castro, Chiloé Island (Patagonia), Chile

On the island’s 90 miles (160 km) length, there are over 60 churches, of which 16 are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national monuments! Combining Christian and pagan elements, the cathedrals stand out for their eye-popping color combinations – see our photograph of Iglesia San Francisco de Castro, below. Along Castro’s coast are the famed rows of timber stilt houses known as palafitos.

The picturesque Iglesia San Francisco de Castro (cathedral), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated Chilean National Monument, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

The picturesque Iglesia San Francisco de Castro (cathedral), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated Chilean National Monument, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

On the north end of the Plaza de Armas in downtown Castro stands the picturesque, visually intriguing church that is an UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a designated Chilean National Monument. Designed in a neo-gothic style by Italian architect Eduardo Provasoli, the church was constructed with native woods by local carpenters. It was completed in 1912 to replace an earlier church that had been destroyed. Along with its golden yellow façade and violet accents, the cathedral is notable for its exquisite interior woodwork showcased in the arches, ceiling and altars.

Dried locally caught smoked mussels and clams for sale in the local farmers' market, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Dried locally caught smoked mussels and clams for sale in the local farmers’ market, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Local cows' cheese (quite tasty!) for sale in the local farmers' market, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Local cows’ cheese (quite tasty!) for sale in the local farmers’ market, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

One of many knitters with warm woolen sweaters and scarves for sale in the local farmers' market, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

One of many knitters with warm woolen sweaters and scarves for sale in the local farmers’ market, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Half-painted old building in downtown Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Half-painted old building in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Palafito houses, precarious but picturesque timber houses on stilts, in the Mar y Canela, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Palafito houses, precarious but picturesque timber houses on stilts, in the Mar y Canela, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

For over three hundred years, Chiloé Island was isolated from mainland Chile owing to the fierce resistance of the mainland native Mapuche to European colonists.  Therefore, the slow pace of island life saw little change.  As a result, Castro is one of the few places in the country where palafito houses can still be seen.  Palafitos are precarious but picturesque timber houses on stilts.  They were once the traditional dwellings of most of the fishermen of southern Chile, found throughout South America since pre-Columbian times.  In the late 19th century, numerous palafitos were built in Chilean cities such as Castro and are now considered a typical element of Chilotan architecture in towns in the Chiloé Archipelago.

Artesania Restaurante, in one of the Palafito houses, where we had a delicious of local cuisine, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Artesania Restaurante, in one of the Palafito houses, where we had a delicious of local cuisine, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

 

2 thoughts on “Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

  1. The locals were very friendly and proud of their island, crafts, agriculture and aquaculture. While not very prosperous, everyone seemed to be content and comfortable with their lives. The lack of aggressive “hawking” in the various markets was a welcome relief to some of the pushiness we’ve seen in markets frequented by large groups of tourists.

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