Valpo’s Funiculars

19 Jan

DSC05496Forty- two steep hills comprise the city of Valparaiso, fondly called “Valpo” by natives. We live on one of these hills, Cerro Bellavista. Other hills conjure romance with names like Concepcion, Alegre, Cordillera, San Juan De Dios, Mariposas and Florida. Each represents a neighborhood with its’ own special flavor.


Getting up and down the crowded hills of Valparaiso is a major undertaking. Here walking is really climbing. Long sets of winding steps weave up and down the hillsides giving the exhausted climber incredible views when stopping to catch a breath.


To ease the burden of the walkers of Valparaiso a series of funiculars were installed at the foot of many of the hills. A funicular is a railroad, especially effective  on a mountainside, which is operated by cable with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced. Two giant pulleys hold the cable as it runs in a circle pulling one car up the hill while the other descends.


When one car goes up, the other comes down passing on the hillside.



DSC05501Like most objects in Valparaiso, the cars are brightly painted with varying designs. The one you see here is a combination of a religious icon and a sort of “sunshine trolley” look featuring the hills of the city.


The funiculars are aging relics. Since the earthquake two years ago and even before that a number of them have closed due to non-repair. The wooden cars groan and lurch as they begin their journey and along the way. Not for the faint of heart.

DSC05505As you approach the station at the top of the hill called “Artilleria” a big eye greets you. The extra sparkle  lets you know you made it to the top one more time.


4 Responses to “Valpo’s Funiculars”

  1. Neil Freer January 19, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Wow, the floor of the car gives a whole new meaning to getting on board…………..what purpose do the wavy parts of the tracks serve at the top? It looks as if the car, if named, could be called “Borrowed Time”. Do they have an OSHA in Chile……..?
    What do they use in the wealthiest part of town….helicopters? Sorry. Jes funnin’. You guys are really adventurers and your pix are really enjoyed.

    • Jill January 19, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Now that you mention it, what the heck is that wavy part up there???

  2. Ursula Freer January 19, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    this is the most adventurous of your journey – but I forgot your jumping out of an airplane!

    • Jill January 19, 2013 at 6:26 am #

      Yes it did feel adventurous as the car lurched and churned toward the top. We have taken two of them so far and this one was the most colorful.

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