Valparaiso, or “Valpo” to locals, is the absolute mecca of street art in Chile and probably even in all of South America. This picturesque port city attracts graffiti artists and muralists from all over the world who proudly come to leave their mark on its walls. The city has become internationally known as an open canvas for the creative, a wonderland of art, color, and inspiration.
Valparaíso is messy, grungy and a bit gritty at its very core. It’s unpolished and raw, a no frills, tell-it-like-it-is urban playground. Valpo’s harsh and complicated past has given rise to a young and free-spirited culture of innovative creators and alternative thinkers.
‘Valparaíso, how absurd you are. You haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.’ -Pablo Neruda
In Valpo, graffiti and street art are not condemned, but rather embraced with open arms. It’s a land of free expression, where artists don’t hesitate to make a controversial statement. They’re not afraid to criticize society, give a voice to the oppressed, and rally together for change.
It’s not hard to find beauty among this city’s chaotic streets, its steep hills rising abruptly from the ocean and bursting with vibrancy. Just a hop, skip and a jump from my home in Santiago, Valparaíso has quickly become one of my favorite weekend destinations and I often visit with the sole intention of wandering around and admiring the art.
You can certainly visit Valparaíso and discover plenty of magnificent art on your own. (It’d be hard not to!) Just freely wander the colorful cobblestone streets and you’re sure to stumble upon greatness! But, for those low on time, or looking to Bee-line it straight to the good stuff, below I’ll reveal the locations of some of the more popular pieces in Valpo, as well as the locations of some of my favorites!
Scroll down to the bottom for a map with more accurate locations.
We are not Hippies, we are Happies by Art + Believe
“We are not Hippies, We are Happies” might just be the most popular piece of street art in all of Valparaíso. AKA- If you leave the city before getting a picture in front of this mural, it’s pretty safe to say you were never even there. It was painted by Art + Believe, an English creative duo based in Brighton, UK and is located on one of Valparaíso’s most central streets. You may have to fight your way through the crowds to get a picture as it’s always packed with photo-happy tourists, but that doesn’t change how incredibly awesome this painting is.
From the artists themselves: “This [piece] became the mantra of our travels and remains so today. The words originate from a very kind Chilean man who took us in whilst in Valparaiso. It captivates the colour, vibrancy and the philosophy of the Chilean people today, now free of dictatorship.”
Where to find it: Next to Casa Partimonio, at Templeman 672.
You can find another awesome piece by Art + Believe, a portrayal of how the pair sees the city of Valparaíso, right in front of Hippies-Happies at Templeman 682.
Charquipunk & Daniel Marceli
In the same area, a few steps away from We’re Not Hippies, you’ll find a colorful collaboration by two of Chile’s own, Charquipunk and Daniel Marceli. Charquipunk is a Valpo local originally from the neighboring town of Concón, and Daniel Marceli is from Chile’s southern archipelago island, Chiloe. They both have very distinct recognizable styles and are considered street art heroes in Valparaíso; it’s safe to say their art pretty much dominates the city’s streets.
Both street artists incorporate parts of their lives in Chile into their work. They blend Latin American history, local traditions, religion, social and economic issues and other cultural elements to create intriguing art with a message. Charquipunk often uses imaginative representations of Chile’s native bird species in his work, hummingbirds seeming to be his bird of choice. Marceli paints with traditional symbols from his home in Chiloe portraying fish and fisherman and using blue and green hues to represent the sea. Some of these unique characteristics can be seen in the following mural.
Where to find this collab: This piece is very close to Hippies-Happies, and can be found next to Casa Kultour at Templeman 645.
Beethoven Piano Stairs
On my last trip to Valpo, I finally made it to the infamous Piano Stairs! Afterwards, I searched and searched online and even asked while wandering around the city, but failed to find much information about the origins or makings of these magnificent musical steps. They’re pretty incredible though, aren’t they?! They seem to be a kind of tribute to German classical composer Beethoven, as they’re very appropriately found on Beethoven Street. Other than that, I guess we’ll just have to embrace the mystery. These steps are just further evidence that any surface is fair game for the creative in Valparaíso.
Where to find them: Across from Alecón Fine Hostel at Abtao 682.
Two of my other favorite street art pieces in Valparaíso are by a popular Spanish street artist, Cuellimangui. (YAY SPAIN!) While walking around Valpo, you’ll no doubt pass tons of his trippy, abstract pieces, easily recognizable by his signature use of mashed together, colorful creatures.
My first favorite piece by Cuellimangui is his mini mural- “Que estas haciendo para cambiar el mundo?” (“What are you doing to change the world?”) found up on Cerro Concepción, around the corner from Paseo Atkins. This piece really captures Cuellimangui’s unique style and I love how it has such a clear and powerful message, really making you step back and take a minute to think. You can watch Cuellimangui creating this piece on Youtube here!
Where to find it: Across the street from Café Vocare at Concepción 179.
This second one is a bit hard to appreciate in a photo, because it’s extremely long and therefore difficult to capture all of it at once. You’ll just have to go get a look in person! This piece is a collaboration between Cuellimangui and another Spanish street artist- ASJ. It features a black and white character that seems to be blowing out a smoke cloud of Cuellimangui’s colorful creepy creatures, turning into a bright green chameleon at the end.
Here’s a picture from Cuellimangui’s flickr to better show you the whole piece!
I found this painting when going to see one of my girl Leah of Gringa Journey’s favorites at Hostal Voyage. I was admiring the entirety of the building, turned the corner and found this gem by French Painter, Mr. Papillion. It’s a massive vibrant lifelike mural of a gorgeous young girl. She’s radiating warmth and happiness. I just absolutely love it and couldn’t stop smiling!
It’s pretty common in Valparaiso for artists to exchange their work for room and board instead of money. I couldn’t find too much out about this particular piece, but it can be assumed that Mr. Papillion did just that and painted this mural outside of Hostal Voyage in exchange for a bed at the hostel while staying in Valparaiso.
Where to find it: Hostel Voyage, Pasaje Leighton 229, Cerro Alegre.
Mr. L – “La Robot de Madera”
Simon, member of the Stgo UnderCrew and known as LRM or Mr. L in the street art world, is another local Chilean street artist who’s work is highly influential all over the world. He studied in Valpo’s more polished neighboring city, Viña del Mar, at Escuela de Bellas Artes, where he mastered the human form.
He usually paints expressive human characters, often emphasizing their inner emotions and struggles as a way to highlight certain societal issues. His recognizable signature is a “pink nose” on his characters, who can be found on the streets all throughout the city.
Tower on Fire
Where to find it: Paseo Dimalow near Fauna at, Dimalow 166.
Below is one of LRM’s more lighthearted pieces, I like to call it: Man Smoking Pipe & Three Eyed Dog. Yeah- creative, I know.
Where to find it: Calle San Enrique, 418 on the doors of Munasiña Taller
The below painting by INTI, another Valpo born artist and fellow member of the Stgo UnderCrew, might just be my favorite in all of Valparaíso. I found it on my very first trip to the city and it was true love at first sight. I’m not sure if it’s the creative and perplexing nature of the piece, or that fact that it uses Valparaíso’s breathtaking skyline as a backdrop, but for me this one definitely stood out among the rest.
INTI’s murals are massive, his work literally demanding attention. It’s impossible to walk by one his monumental paintings without taking notice. He’s become quite the legend among street artists in Chile and has left his mark in almost every corner of the globe. You can find his paintings spanning entire walls in France, Tahiti, Hawaii, Poland, Spain and Turkey- just to name a few. INTI even collaborated with iconic designer Louis Vuitton to turn some of his unique indigenous creations into wearable art! Yeah, he’s kind of a big deal…
Where to find it: You can see this piece from the mirador or “lookout” at Paseo Atkins.
Below is a collaboration piece by Chilean street artists INTI, Charquipunk y LRM found on Subida Cumming.
One of my favorite spots in Valparaíso to spend time wandering around is the Galvez passage. This narrow street is tucked in a crevice of Cerro Alegre and is a little hub of street art, galleries, cafés and shops featuring local designers. Walking the whole of this cobblestone passage you’ll find more recognizable pieces by Cuellimangui and Daniel Marceli, some playful painted doors, an extra hairy lady (La Mujer Peluda), a whimsical Mermaid, colorful stairs with inspirational quotes, an old school print shop and much, much more!
Here’s a little preview:
Where to Find Street Art in Valparaíso:
Looking for more information on the history of Valpo’s street artists and their incredible works? Try taking ValpoStreetArt’s GraFREEti Tour during your visit. It’s offered everyday, twice a day (once on Sundays) and is such a great introduction to the art scene in Valparaíso! Oh yeah, and big plus- it’s FREE! Tips are of course appreciated.
So, what do you think of Valparaíso’s street art scene? Where is your favorite place to find street art?
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Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!
Consider yourself a wanderer?! Well then, this Blog Hop is for you!
Meet your hosts: Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.
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This week I’m highlighting 8 Things I learned While Visiting Seattle by Ashley of The Wandering Weekenders! We’re always learning while traveling, no matter where we go, so I love this idea for a post! If you haven’t already, be sure to go check out her post and spread the love! Thanks for linking up with us Ashley!
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