Whether it’s woolen ponchos, berry liquor or wooden crafts, a trip to South America means good souvenirs for you and those left at home. There are top artisan markets in almost every major city on the continent, and Santiago is no exception. But it’s important to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to arts and crafts — after all, you don’t want to get home and find a “Made in China” sticker on your alpaca scarf. Here’s where to find the real handcrafted goodies when in the Chilean capital.
A must-stop on any Santiago trip, Pueblito Los Dominicos is a walled artisan market just up the hill from Metro Los Dominicos. Like a rabbit warren below the Andes Mountains, there are endless stalls and stores filled with South American treasures here. For handmade ceramics, don’t miss Local 89 where you will find mugs, plates and bowls designed with patterns inspired by native Chilean tribes’ artwork. Opposite the ceramic stop, you’ll discover more national crafts (bowls made from Chilean rauli wood) at another store, Fundación Artesanías de Chile. Of course, the best way to experience the market is by wandering from stall to stall, exploring it in its entirety for a few hours, perhaps stopping for refreshments in between — there are places selling mote con huesillo, a typical drink made with dried peaches and barley. Before leaving Los Dominicos, check out Local 162, a spot for mini ceramic pots hand-painted with typical Chilean scenes such as famed writer Pablo Neruda’s house or Valparaiso’s funiculars. Avenida Apoquindo 9085, Las Condes, Santiago, Open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This is a relatively new market in Providencia’s Barrio Italia that features stalls set around two large warehouse-style rooms. The products (mainly made in Chile) vary from face creams to food and handmade fashions. Cal Perdiu, a company specializing in sausages and chorizo made in nearby Ñuñoa, is a tasty stop at the market. If you have a hankering for dessert, follow your nose to A&M (homemade marmalade and jam), Irlanda (chocolates) or Masitas Ruhue (tarts, pies and empanadas). And if you need to bring a non-perishable gift back to a loved one at home, Noias’ hand creams and German designer Simone Hohoff’s stylish dresses are perfect. Avenida Francisco Bilbao 511, Open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Many of the best Chilean goods are found at pop-ups that sprout up for a limited time in Santiago’s squares and parks. The best way to keep abreast of the new markets is by visiting www.chile.travel. A few months ago, Baquedano Metro station turned red with the tents of a temporary artisan fair. For two weeks, vendors from all over Chile sold everything from tea to aromatherapy oils and handmade alfajores. When future pop-ups spring up, you can expect to see businesses such as Tejelana Chile selling crochet booties for babies and Chumbeques peddling traditional sweets from the northern region of Iquique. As with almost all Chilean artisan markets, there will be stands selling products and foodstuff derived from Chilean honey as well. Natura Miel, for example, sells flavored honey such as orange and ginger by the jar, as well as honey-based shampoos and body lotions.
Photo Courtesy of Gabriel O’Rorke