Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chile Journal VI: Calle Londres 38

Photograph by Hallie Cohen
Outside the Hotel Plaza San Francisco on Alameda Street also known as O’Higgins, one of the central thoroughfares of Santiago, in the Plaza de la Fray Pedro de Bordeci O.F.M, stands a fountain in back of which is the Iglesia de  San Francisco, one of the oldest churches in Santiago. Its unprepossessing structure hides a grandiloquent inner sanctum which is an oasis of peace in one of the frenetic sections of the Centro. There’s a cobblestoned street called the Calle Londres that begins with a curved structure that’s reminiscent of the Roman architecture of Bath. Calle Londres is one of the most charming in the bustling downtown area. If you continue down the street to Londres 38 you will comes to a rather elegant building where torture took place. A plaque in front reads “centro secrete de detencion tortura desaparcia y ejectuacia 11 de Septembre l973-September l974. " Ninety six persons were tortured by the Pinochet regime in that elegant spot during that one year. In 2005, it was declared a monument. And there are little memorials to the dead, interspersed amidst the cobblestones. Calle Londres is a beautiful street with an ugly past. 

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