Destination guide: Iquique
This is the name of the city's main street, one of the oldest and prettiest in Iquique. Now for pedestrians only, it has the same architecture as the time it was built (1820 to 1920) and it's one of the principal testimonies to the growth of the area's nitrate industry. It's currently home to the city's antique dealers, who sell articles commemorating these years of economic growth.
Together with Brava beach, Cavancha is one of the most important beaches in the city and is ideal both for bathing and water sports, such as windsurfing, body-boarding and water-skiing. Its calm blue water makes it apt for all bathers and its fine white sand means it can't be beaten for an afternoon's sunbathing at any time of year. It has the curved shape of the peninsula and is easily reached, since it's right in the centre of Iquique, parallel to the coastal road.
Known as the Zofri, Iquique's Duty-Free Zone is situated in the northern part of the city and covers 240 hectares. Products from all over the country and abroad are sold here tax-free. It's an obligatory stop-off for travelers, who take advantage and buy, among other things, perfumes, personal items and items for the home, clothes, shoes, sneakers and toys.
The Esmeralda Corvette's Buoy
A national emblem, the buoy marks the place where the Esmeralda sank on May 21, 1879, during the Naval Combat of Iquique, part of the Pacific War. Made of steel, it's 12 feet high and painted in the colors of the same Chilean flag that flies from its highest point. It can be seen from the historic Iquique harbor and can also be visited by boat. Both the buoy and harbor are in the northernmost part of the city.
This village is an oasis in the Tamarugal Pampa, 72 kilometers southeast of Iquique. With a population only just topping 800, the peaceful life of its residents is interrupted each year during the La Tirana Religious Festival, celebrated on July 16.
For five days, the village is completely transformed during a festival which includes symbolic costumes, dances and parades, music and offerings to the village's patron.
During the festival, La Tirana welcomes an estimated 200,000 visitors. It's a festival typical of northern villages, as well as being the most well-known and traditional.
Humberstone and Santa Laura Nitrate Offices
These are two old settlements, currently abandoned and 48 kilometers east of Iquique. Both are historical monuments and, since 2005, UNESCO World Heritage sites and both are featured on the list of endangered cultural heritage sites.
The offices are a reflection of the region's splendor towards the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century, when exports of nitrate produced in the north of the country contributed to an explosive boom in the economy.
This wealth was reflected in the offices' architecture, construction materials, style - everything was built and finely decorated in a classic English style - furniture, goods and, in general, in the lifestyle led by its occupants.
This prosperity lasted until Europe, and specifically Germany, discovered how to produce synthetic nitrate during the First World War and demand for nationally-produced nitrate went into decline, since it was no longer needed abroad.
The Great Depression in the United States in 1929 also contributed to the collapse of the country's nitrate offices. Humberstone and Santa Laura were finally abandoned in the fifties, becoming ghost towns. Nowadays, they are visited as tourist attractions.
This village is 114 kilometers southeast of Iquique and 1,325 meters above sea level and is in the region of the same name. It's famous for its citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits and the especially well-known 'pica limes', which are used for cocktails such as pisco sour and caipirinha.
Other important fruits grown in the area are mangos and guavas. On the outskirts of Pica, as well as in the nearby village of Matilla and in the Quisma Valley, there are fields and fields of them. Sun and clear skies are the norm almost all year round here, which is why it's always pleasant for visitors, who also discover that the area has been inhabited from pre-Columbian times and by different races.
Pica is also on the ancient Inca Trail and Diego de Almagro, the person who discovered Chile, passed through here. A large number of its buildings are, in fact, from before the arrival of the Spaniards.