The old city of La Serena in Chile features in one of its main thoroughfares a beautiful park with marble sculptures, replicas of famous Italian classic masterpieces, which constitute part of the soul, strength and wealth of the city.
The city of La Serena in the north-central region of Chile has almost 470 years of history. It was the second city founded in the Captaincy of Chile by the Spanish conquistadors, after the capital Santiago. Captain Francisco de Aguirre founded the village in 1544 as a fortress to protect his soldiers from the continuous siege of the Indians.
The town grew slowly along a river that brought little water from the Andes and eventually was channeled and covered to create the present avenue named after the Spanish conquistador. Francisco de Aguirre Avenue became the main route of entry to La Serena and one of the favorite places of recreation for Serenenses (residents of La Serena). This space was used to commemorate all major patriotic and religious events and the celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays.
The Marble Gate. Located at the entrance to the Francisco de Aguirre Sculpture Park; it was donated to the city by British residents on the occasion of the centennial celebration of Chile's independence from Spain.
Bronze statue of Lieutenant Governor, Captain Francisco de Aguirre, founder of the city of La Serena, 1544. The statue was made in 1952 by I.A. González, in Madrid, Spain. Aguirre was known for a "strong hand" in dealing with and applying punishment to the indians. He died in La Serena in 1581.
Gabriel Gonzalez, president of Chile from 1946 to 1952, born in La Serena, had an extraordinary love and dedication to the development of his hometown and enthusiastically contributed to major improvements in the urban environment. One important undertaking was the creation of an open air museum, also known as “The Sculpture Park," which main purpose was to make art accessible to the people through displaying classical Italian works of art in public spaces.
The bather. This is an original sculpture by Italian sculptor Gaetano Mercanti. Marble sculpture in the park of Francisco de Aguirre Avenue, La Serena, Chile.
The sculptures at the park, carved in Carrara marble, are replicas of famous sculptures and come from workshops and art galleries of Pisa, Florence, Rome and Naples. The main access to this beautiful open air museum is a marble entrance which was donated to the city by the British colony in 1910. Currently, Francisco de Aguirre Avenue of La Serena has 30 sculptures that are beautifully framed by the neo-colonial architecture of the city. The sculpture park of La Serena is an important public space widely used by the community for cultural activities and festivals.
The Three Graces. Replica by Italo Simi of the original sculpture of Antonio Cánova (1813). The images of Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia, daughters of Zeus, representing beauty, charm and joy, is one of the most loved sculptures in the park.
The Wrestlers — also known as The Uffizi Wrestlers. This is a replica by Lisipo of the famous Roman marble sculpture made after a lost Greek original of the third century BCE, now in the Uffizi collection in Florence, Italy.
La Serena city is 471 kilometers north of Santiago de Chile. It is the capital of the Coquimbo Region and is home to 210,000 people. The city is accessible from Santiago via Route 5 North, approximately 5 hours by car, or 1 hour by plane.