Fodor's Expert Review Iglesia San Francisco
Santiago's oldest structure, greatest symbol, and principal landmark, the Church of San Francisco is the last trace of 16th-century colonial architecture in the city. Construction began in 1586, and although the church survived successive earthquakes, early tremors took their toll and portions had to be rebuilt several times. Today's neoclassical tower, which forms the city's most recognizable silhouette, was added in 1857 by architect Fermín Vivaceta. Inside are rough stone-and-brick walls and an ornate coffered wood ceiling. Visible on the main altar is the image of the Virgen del Socorro (Virgin of Perpetual Help) that conquistador Pedro de Valdivia carried for protection and guidance.