Anyone from the Argentine side of the Andes will be puzzled if you told them you are visiting Puerto Montt. “Why?” they would ask, and add: “it’s such a horrible city”. Yes, Puerto Montt is not traditionally a tourist city but, as I said about Osorno, its raw look poses a challenge to discover its beauty.
Let me give you an example: like most major cities in Latin America (and Europe), the main square holds the most important Church in town: the Cathedral. I found it curious that in Osorno, Coyhaique, and Puerto Montt called this important park Plaza de Armas (or “Arms Square”), with straight-forward acknowledgement of the relevance of the Armed Forces in the making of Chile. The wooden cathedral of Puerto Montt is not eye-catching (especially if you compare it, say, with major duomos in Italy).
When you go in, you are embraced by the stabbing odour of eternal humidity. Suddenly, you open your eyes and see this:
…and beautiful signs like this one:
Moisture smell disappeared as quickly as I felt it and it unveiled the house of God, a place of prayer, a place of rest. The half-beggar-half-crazy woman’s yelling at passer-bys was a murmur for those who were inside. At the same time, that whisper did sink into hearts, and everyone gave her something on their way out. The guard at the door did not approve. I crossed the street to take a picture of the façade and understood why: the old lady was very rude, you could tell she was off, and apparently she was a habitual on the block.
I one of the nearby corners is Diego de Rivera Art House which hosts the local Cultural Centre. There is a theatre and some rooms with ongoing exhibitions. There is also a very nice café that overlooks the ocean.