A Glimpse of Cerro Cárcel

Where have you found the coolest repurposed spaces?

Atop Cerro Carcel, a hill in Valparaiso, sits a beautiful park. However, this place used to be a prison. The white building no longer houses prisoners, and the old yard has been transformed into a walkable garden.


Inside, the cells have been removed to make room for practice rooms and a ropes gym. The open layout serves as a culture center. When we visited, a dance team was rehearsing their routine in the foyer while a musician tuned his guitar in one of the rooms above. We could also peek into the gym, where a coach was teaching aerial silk and hoop techniques.

Across the open lawn, there also sits a much newer building, wherein we discovered a free art gallery. This featured a small mural contest outside and works by Loro Coiron inside. He carves his artwork into giant sheets of linoleum and then uses these as a sort of stamp to “print” the final works. It’s a very distinctive style with more of a white-on-black look.


I particularly like that he “animates” some of his characters within a single piece by duplicating them in various poses. With this, we could watch birds fly across the sky or a little girl follow a stray cat through the market.


I also like that he seems to share in our affinity for cats; we could find one in almost every work. And I really love the banner of a cat falling, landing on its feet, and then running away.

How cool is that!


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A Glimpse of Valparaíso Street Art

Where is the best place in the world you’ve found for street art?


We saw lots of street art in Porto. We stumbled upon an entire painted alley in Ghent. We spent a day exploring the colorful streets of Shoreditch. We even have many murals sprinkled throughout our hometown of Portland.


But Valparaiso puts them all to shame.


This is an ENTIRE CITY of street art. It seemed that every expansive surface was a canvas. Walls, doors, stairs, poles. It was everywhere! We loved Valparaiso so much we visited twice.

We even found a painting of a cat we also saw in Porto – crazy!

But my favorites were the ones on the stairs. These often played both with the vertical space and with the distancing perspective when viewed from below. It’s all so beautiful!


Street art used to be illegal, and those caught politically expressing themselves through it were mysteriously “disappeared.” But with narrow alleys and winding streets, the rebellious culture thrived. Now, the practice is sanctioned, with businesses holding friendly competitions to produce the best murals.


And with the constant need for expression, you can be assured the city’s tapestry is constantly changing; there’s always something new to discover!


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A Glimpse of Valparaíso

What city have you found that has some unique culture?

From the moment we saw pictures of Valparaiso, we knew we had to check it out! Known as a city full of remarkable street art, it has amazing character.


It was once a vibrant and rich city, frequented by ships on their way to the west coast of the United States. However, with the opening of the Panama canal, the city’s economy plummeted, and the wealthy left for greener pastures.


Now, the city looks a bit ramshackle, but in the most charming way. Instead of looking rundown, each building fits into the haphazard puzzle of a city, adding a unique chapter to the story. And it’s all woven together with extravagant murals.


We fell in love with this city of hills and pastel-painted buildings as we navigated the many stairways that connect each neighborhood. And we even found some kitties wandering the streets!


With so much to look at, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sit at one of the many restaurants that overlook the bay.. with a couple of pisco sours, of course!

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