Everyone from Pablo Neruda to bohemian backpackers have fallen in love with Valparaíso’s rough and tumble charms. Valparaíso is a port town dripping in maritime history and culture. The port played a major role in the 19th century, when ships traveling up the Pacific Coast to California during the Gold Rush would stop on their way from the Atlantic. Valparaiso fell into decline after the construction of the Panama Canal, and has suffered high levels of poverty since. However, what remains is a spectacular labyrinth of cobble stoned alleyways climbing over a series of steep hills and canyons. Artists, poets and writers have lived in Valparaíso for a long time, adding to the sense of creativity which seems to be found around every corner.
As dusk falls, Valparaíso’s downtown transforms into a dilapidated urban feast for the eyes.
A group of semi inebriated friends stop for their portrait. Playing up to its role as a port city, Valparaíso has a reputation for wild parties and rowdy bars.
Valparaiso’s architecture is world renown for it’s brightly colored wood houses that cling precariously to hillsides.
The art filled Paseo Bavestrello.
Valparaíso’s funicular elevators attest to a time of greatness in this cities history. The city once had 30 of them, today only around five are in operation. These elevators, some which function more like a cable car, help local residents summit the top of the cities many steep hills.
An ascensor operator waiting for passengers.
Ascensor El Peral, one of the last remaining funicular elevators left in the city.
The narrow streets of the more upscale Cerro Concepcion area. Most residents distinguish their neighborhood by which hill they live on.
This building is home to the El Mercurio newspaper. The newspaper was started in 1827 in Valparaíso, and is the oldest Spanish language newspaper still in circulation today.
Residents playing a game of Truco.
During the 19th Century, Valparaíso was a hub for many English and German immigrants. On Cerro Concepción, one of the cities more colorful and artistic areas, is the German Lutheran Church.
Photographing of the chaotic streets of El Plano, taken by Alfredo Rivera
Over a hundred years old, Bar La Playa transports any visitor to a different time in Valparaíso’s history. One of the most character filled bars I’ve ever seen. One hopes that bar’s like this can be preserved.
La Playa also serves up Paila marina, a traditional Chilean seafood soup served in a earthenware bowl with claim, mussels, eel, shrimp, paprika, parsley and lime.
Valparaíso is unlike any city I’ve ever seen in the world. Some say the closest comparison would be San Francisco. Whatever you way you want to look at it, Valparaíso is certainly lives up to it’s name, La Joya del Pacífico, the Jewel of the Pacific.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Walker then majored in International Relations and Chinese at the New School University in NYC. He began traveling during a high school exchange to Argentina, and hasn’t stopped since. Walker has always sought out the more unusual and off the beaten path locations and is combining his love for photography and travel to kickstart a career as a journalist, striving to redefine the profession in rapidly changing world.