After a 9.4 billion peso renovation, the fire-besieged former jail of Parque Cultural is now a major cultural institution, welcoming 170,000 visitors per year. In 2011, it launched an annual festival called Puerto de Ideas, or Port of Ideas, a creative conference that brings Latin American and global scholars, artists and scientists to Valparaiso for a series of lectures and exhibitions. Programming resembles interdisciplinary, cross-cultural TED talks, though, at about three Chilean pesos each, Puerto de Ideas’ sessions are considerably more affordable. The third conference is scheduled for 8 to 10 November 2013.
Valparaiso’s beloved funiculars have also been fully restored, and function with the sort of creaking, early 20th-century construction that lends them considerable charm. They grunt their way through the city, carrying locals and a new wave of international travellers from the cerros to the port below. Well-heeled residents and vacationers sip cocktails and Carmenere, Chile’s signature red wine, at Palacio Astoreca’s outdoor tables, while students talk for hours over microbrews in candlelit, portside pubs. The pedestrian waterfront along Cerro Alegre is full once again, with visitors and locals strolling along in the city’s languid, poetic style. Here, in Valparaiso, there is no time like the present.