One of the things I noticed walking around Santiago, Chile, is how little the city catered to tourists. In major tourist destinations, the main attractions downtown are surrounded by shops selling you all sorts of cheap trinkets. In Santiago, these stores by and large didn’t exist. In a way this was refreshing, but at the same it left me wondering, where was I going to buy souvenirs for everyone? I found the answer at Pueblito Los Dominicos.
Los Dominicos is a handicrafts village in Santiago. Dozens of artists and craftsmen have shops in a picturesque setting outside of the downtown area.
To get to the village, you have to take Line 1 on the metro all the way to the end, to the stop aptly named Los Dominicos. After crossing a large park ringed by the mountains, you’ll arrive at some long, low, white-washed buildings. One of these is a church, and you have to walk around and behind the church to find the entrance to the shops – there’s very little in the way of signage.
One thing that makes Los Dominicos so interesting is that pains have been taken to make it so attractive, rather than just leaving it as rows of storefronts, which would have drawn tourists on their own. There is plenty of foliage guarding the walkways, a fountain at the front entrance, and somewhat strangely and arbitrarily, cages full of birds, including peacocks. (This last seemed an awfully small space to keep so many birds, but I tried not to judge too much).
The shops at Los Dominicos sell everything from cheap souvenirs to expensive jewelry, leather, and dishware, and more unique items, like hand-painted wooden shopfronts to hang on the wall. Chile is known for its lapis lazuli, and the stores sell lapis made into jewelry, dishes, and even little penguin figurines (I definitely bought one of those). There are many other stones that jewelry is made from, and I saw some amazing pieces there (though I couldn’t afford the nicest ones).
The shopkeepers are very friendly, without being too pushy about sales, and some of them speak English. One woman I bought a painted wooden box from for my mom let me take a picture of her shop. She had set up a cute, intricate display on one wall of her store, so clearly she’s been selling her work out of this shop for a long time.
You can spend several hours wandering through the shops at Los Dominicos, and it really is the best place that I found to purchase quality souvenirs for yourself and everyone back home. Plus, with it being metro accessible, there’s no reason not to go the next time you’re in Santiago, Chile.