La Serena, Coquimbo Region, Chile

History | Economy | Tourist Industry | Transport

🇨🇱 La Serena is a city and commune in northern Chile, capital of the Coquimbo Region. Founded in 1544, it is the country's second oldest city after the national capital, Santiago. As of 2012 it was one of the fastest-growing areas of Chile.

The city is an important tourist destination, especially during the summer, where people go to visit the beaches. It is in the headquarters of the University of La Serena and also is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of La Serena, one of five Catholic Archdioceses of the Catholic Church in Chile.


History The sector is currently located where the city was inhabited by the pre-Hispanic village called Viluma or Vilumanque (Mapudungún Snakes and condors).

La Serena was founded on the orders of the Spaniard Pedro de Valdivia in order to provide a sea link to maintain permanent contact between Santiago and Lima in the Viceroyalty of Peru. For this he would need a place for his troops to rest and eat. The village was founded by captain Juan Bohón with the name "Villanueva de La Serena". Although the exact date is disputed, probable dates include 15 November or 30 December 1543 and 4 September 1544. Many historians simply say that it was founded in 1544. Five years later, from the night of 11 January 1549 until the following day, a native uprising totally destroyed and burned the village, killing nearly every Spaniard. Pedro de Valdivia ordered Captain Francisco de Aguirre to re-establish the city later the same year on 26 August under the name of San Bartolomé de La Serena (now patron saint of the city), in the same place where the Plaza de Armas stands today. A few years later, on 4 May 1552, King Carlos I of Spain by royal decree gave it the title of city. One of the reasons to establish La Serena was to control Mapuche groups that had begun to migrate north following the Spanish founding of Santiago in 1541. Indeed, northern Mapuche groups appear to have responded to the Spanish conquest by abandoning their best agricultural lands and moving to remote parts away from the invaders.

During the 17th century, the city suffered repeated attacks from privateers, including Francis Drake who opened the Pacific route to the English in 1578. Bartholomew Sharp, who partly burned and looted in 1680, and Edward Davis, who set fire to the convent of Santo Domingo in 1686, caused great fear among the population, forcing the defence of the city in 1700. In addition to these attacks, the city was almost totally destroyed by the earthquake of 8 July 1730.

During the Revolution of 1859, a rebellion against the conservative government, the city was taken by forces led by Pedro Leon Gallo. Gallo's forces were defeated at the Battle of Cerro Grande by an army from Santiago, which then occupied the city.


Economy In the last decades, tourism has turned into one of the most important economic activities. The population doubles in the summer months, principally for the beaches, recreational activities, musical festivals, concerts, and Fashion Week. In addition, the city is an obligatory stop for hundreds of pilgrims that arrive to the city of Coquimbo, where during The Serenade they find lodging for visiting the zone and Valle de Elqui.

In this city there are located branches of the more important chain stores of the country, Mall Plaza La Serena, which has the national shops Falabella and París. Also Mall Puerta Del Mar, contains two supermarkets, and regional multistores, such as La Elegante, and shops for home and construction. The downtown is one of the places with major economic and financial institutions of the Coquimbo Region.


Tourist Industry The old part of the city is the largest and most important urban "traditional area" (zona típica) in Chile. The churches are distinguished by many styles of belfries, which led to the city being nicknamed "the city of the belfries".

The Church Cathedral of La Serena was designated a Historical Monument in 1981. Construction was initiated by the French architect Jean Herbage in 1844, and dedicated in 1856. It is the largest temple in the city, constructed in Neoclassic style, measuring 60 metres (200 feet) long by 20 metres (66 feet) wide, with three central bodies. Inside there is an organ donated by the philanthropist Juana Ross de Edwards. The belfry dates back from the 20th century.

The town has retained its historic architecture and this, along with a selection of beaches (known as Avenida del Mar, "Sea Avenue"), has caused the city to become a significant tourist destination, attracting many foreigners (most of them Argentines from San Juan and Mendoza provinces) during January, and later Santiago residents fleeing February heat.

The beaches of the Avenida Del Mar are some of the most crowded in La Serena, which run from the El Faro Monumental in the south to Peñuelas's beach in neighboring Coquimbo, an extension of 6 km (4 mi). However, the beaches of La Serena have very rough water and are not suitable for swimming. In comparison, beaches in Coquimbo, such as The Horseshoe, have very calm waters and clean sands.

The twelve beaches along the Avenida del Mar are El Faro, Los Fuertes, Mansa, Blanca, La Barca, Cuatro Esquinas, La Marina, El Pescador, El Corsario, Hipocampo, Las Gaviotas, and Canto del Agua. All of them except the beacon are suitable for the swimming and aquatic and nautical sports. In recent years the La Serena Song Festival (created in 2004) has been gaining national importance, due to the high quality of the invited artists. A new international airport has also been improved. Real estate development along the beach has created a tourist residential development along the Elqui River.

The most famous beach near La Serena is "Morrillos" with 25 km (16 mi) of sand and dunes. In the southern part of Morrillos is Guanaqueros, a beautiful spot with calm waters. Water temperatures can reach 25 °C (77 °F) in summer. The best surf spot is Totoralillo beach with good waves. "El Cacho" wave is one of the famous and works awesome with swells.

The best Enduro mountainbike spot is Cerro Grande just behind La Serena with several trails only for advanced to expert riders.


Transport La Serena relies on diverse means of transport to connect downtown with peripheral neighborhoods and Coquimbo, such as collective taxis, taxis and tour buses. In the past the city was the principal railway centre for passenger transport to travel to the interior zone of Vicuña and Ovalle. Today, the only railroad that passes through parts of the city carries iron ore from El Romeral mine to Guayacán's port in Coquimbo.

The city relies on a bus station to provide transport from La Serena to most of the country, as well as an airport with daily flights to Santiago, Antofagasta, Arica, Copiapó and other destinations. Today there is a project to move the La Florida Airport to an area near Tongoy, Coquimbo, due to population growth close to the current airport with all the danger that this implies.

Image: Photo by Guido Coppa on Unsplash

La Serena was ranked #631 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. La Serena has a population of over 201,000 people. La Serena also forms the centre of the wider Coquimbo Region which has a population of over 742,178 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for La Serena see: Twitter:

Twin Towns, Sister Cities La Serena has links with:

🇪🇸 Campanario, Spain 🇪🇸 Castuera, Spain 🇨🇳 Changzhou, China 🇺🇸 Hilo, USA 🇵🇱 Kraków, Poland 🇺🇸 Millbrae, USA 🇦🇷 San Juan, Argentina 🇪🇸 Talavera de la Reina, Spain 🇯🇵 Tenri, Japan 🇲🇽 Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license | Nomad

Antipodal to La Serena is: 108.75,29.909

Locations Near: La Serena -71.25,-29.9094

🇨🇱 Coquimbo -71.333,-29.95 d: 9.2  

🇨🇱 Ovalle -71.2,-30.6 d: 76.9  

🇨🇱 Illapel -71.167,-31.633 d: 191.9  

🇨🇱 Copiapó -70.317,-27.35 d: 298.8  

🇨🇱 La Calera -71.183,-32.783 d: 319.6  

🇨🇱 Viña del Mar -71.55,-33.017 d: 346.7  

🇨🇱 Villa Alemana -71.373,-33.044 d: 348.8  

🇨🇱 Quilpue -71.442,-33.048 d: 349.4  

🇨🇱 Valparaíso -71.619,-33.046 d: 350.5  

🇦🇷 San Juan -68.517,-31.533 d: 317.6  

Antipodal to: La Serena 108.75,29.909

🇨🇳 Enshi 109.48,30.295 d: 19932.8  

🇨🇳 Wanzhou 108.409,30.808 d: 19910  

🇨🇳 Jinniu 108.238,30.725 d: 19911.9  

🇨🇳 Dali 109.461,31.018 d: 19874.3  

🇨🇳 Fengjie 109.461,31.018 d: 19874.3  

🇨🇳 Fuling 107.39,29.703 d: 19881.9  

🇨🇳 Lingxi 109.833,29 d: 19869.4  

🇨🇳 Furong 109.946,28.743 d: 19841.1  

🇨🇳 Dachuan 107.517,31.2 d: 19829.3  

🇨🇳 Dazhou 107.504,31.211 d: 19827.5  

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