San Pedro de Atacama, the oldest town in Chile

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San Pedro de Atacama is the oldest town in Chile, it is believed to have been founded by the Inca Yupanqui in 1450, then in 1536 this village was visited by the Spanish hosts of Diego de Almagro when he came to discover Chile. In 1540 Pedro de Valdivia camped here on his journey from Peru to conquer Chile, naming the town “San Pedro de Atacama” in his own honor.

San Pedro de Atacama is very visited because it is the closest town to the Atacama Desert, a very well known site in the area and very popular with tourists.

Houses in San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama

The history of San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is a city in northern Chile, located in the Atacama Desert.

It has a long history, dating back to pre-Columbian times, when it was an important center of the Atacameño people.

The city was founded in 1540 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia and became an important stop on the trade route between Peru and Bolivia. Today, San Pedro de Atacama is a popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful desert landscape and archaeological sites.

What to visit in San Pedro de Atacama

In its beginnings San Pedro de Atacama was a destination for backpackers and travelers, but today tourists come from all over the world, especially Europeans and foreigners attracted by the natural beauty of the area and the particular charm of the town.

Landscape of San Pedro de Atacama

The main attractions are located in the surroundings of the town, however in the few blocks of San Pedro it is possible to find places of interest such as the Museum of San Pedro de Atacama created by the Belgian priest Gustavo Le Paige. Other places are the church, the market and the cemetery.

To the south of the town lies the Salar de Atacama, which has the world’s largest lithium reserves. Other places not to be missed are Los Geisers del Tatio, El Valle de La Luna and Las Termas de Puritana.

How to get to San Pedro de Atacama

The most common way to get to San Pedro de Atacama is by car or bus from the city of Calama, which has an airport with regular domestic flights from Santiago. The trip takes about two hours.

San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama

It is also possible to fly to the city of Copiapó and then take a bus or cab for the four-hour trip to San Pedro de Atacama. Whichever route you choose, make sure you have enough time to explore all that this unique corner of the world has to offer.

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About the author

I am Matias, born in Patagonia, and a lover of my land.

For more than 20 years I help foreign travellers to organise their trip to Patagonia.

I also manage this exotic accommodation on the Atlantic coast.