Arturo Prat Plaza

Another Hero

Shortly after the Maritime Government plaza is a crossroads with this interesting sign. The first line references two attractions. “ZOFRI” is the local abbreviation for the designation of Iquique as a port with tax advantages. The destination of this sign is a shopping mall. “Esmeralda” is the living museum I photographed from the tender. Our route to the Atacama desert took us through “Centro” with views of “Sur-Cavancha” on our ascension of the escarpment.

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Interesting destinations.

As we approach the central square, this local wonder is on the corner. Any wood must be acquired over long distances as little (close to nothing) grows locally.

A display of great wealth — a wood veranda.

Declared a National Historic Landmark on July 13, 1987 this Clock Tower, together with the buildings surrounding it in the plaza (the Municipal Theater of Iquique, the building of the Workers Welfare Society of Tarapacá, the Casino Español and the Club Croata) is one of the most representative urban expressions of the “Saltpeter Period”, a time which saw much foreign investment. Built 1878 when Iquique was Peru territory, the partition walls of Oregon pine wood, a clock mechanism from England. Saltpeter, a nitrogen rich deposit on the Atacama desert surface, brought thousands of poor workers to exploit the natural resource and to, in turn, be exploited.

I decided against straightening the tower, too much was lost in the process.

A pair of linear fountains run parallel to the road, framing the clock tower or theater depending on the point of view.

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Wikipedia – “Zona Franca of Iquique” and “Clock Tower (Iquique).”

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Maritime Government

Another Hero

At the foot of the port island a Maritime Government building for the Iquique region. This and the other photographs of Iquique city were taken from the tour bus using a Canon dslr and the Canon EF 70 – 300 variable “zoom” lens.

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“Red, White and Blue” Note the brass ship’s bell on the left entrance column.

Shaped as it is, Chile needs an agency devoted to the coast. Littoral, the geographic term applied to this area of control. By definition of Chile it’s littoral begins “80 meters inland from the line of beach” to 200 miles from the point of low tide, a broad definition that works without too much conflict as, to the west, is the enormous Pacific Ocean. As with all countries there are interesting disagreements over maritime borders and rights at the borders. Chile and Argentina’s complex border in the far south among the islands and channels of Tierra del Fuego are legend.

“Flag of Chile” with two men on the steps clutching smart phones. Port security is apparent in the identification cards on lanyards.

Iquique is one of thirteen (13) Maritime Governorates. From north to south we can mention those of Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, San Antonio, Talcahuano, Valdivia, Puerto Montt, Castro, Aysén, Punta Arenas and Navarino with the Chilean Antarctic Territory. Our cruise touches up, or passes through, all of them.


Larger than life busts of two Chilean heroes flank the entrance. We learned about Prat in an earlier post. While Captain Prat lost his life during the Battle of Iquique, Carlos Arnaldo Condell De La Haza, Captain of the schooner Virgen de Covadonga, escaped a larger and heavier gunned Peruvian ship, the armored frigate Independencia, sailing south.

Captain Condell, through tactics and seamanship, pinned the Independenia on a reef. The Covadonga blasted away until driven off by the monitor Huáscar. Condell went on to other naval successes and succumbed to illness at the young age of fourth four (44) years.

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Wikipedia – “Carlos Arnaldo Condell De La Haza”

Click me for a spanish language pdf file on Chilean maritime governance.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique first steps

On Dry Land

Our tour tickets and bus designation ( “number 2” ) firmly in hand, Pam and I walked the gangplank from the tender (see yesterday’s post), into the Iquique International Cruise terminal, then out to the sunshine to find out bus, following the crowd.

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Downtown High rises soar above downtown

Touring this way can feel link a rodent maze, it was not our feeling at all. The groups maxed at 15, the guides friendly and knowledgeable, the tour buses luxurious. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Here we are, later that day, dressed for adventure.

Mike and Pam Wills on tour at the Pintados Geoglyphs, Tarapacá, Chile within the Atacama desert.

Our itinerary for the day is to navigate through the city, across the desert to visit a World Heritage Site, Humberstone, and ancient geoglyph sites, touching on local ecology.

Another view of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception among the downtown high-rises of Iquique.

Here is our tour, time to hop on the bus, get going.

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Here is a slide show of our day so far.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique Tender Views

From Ship to Shore

Ninety minutes after docking our assigned tender pulled away from the Regatta for a twenty minute trip to Iquique. A tender is a boat with an enclosed seating area designed to transport about twenty persons in quiet waters from an anchorage to port. I recall the morning announcement from the ship Captain advising use the winds were high (or the waves), and he negotiated a mooring with the port, instead of the planned docking, in order to save our visit to Iquique.

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The approximate anchorage of the Regatta marked with a pushpin. The tender transported use from the Regatta to the base of the island port.

Above is a screen capture from Google Earth, the entire Iquique harbor is pictured from Punta Negra (see photo from yesterday) to the base of the island port connected to the mainland with a road. The tender port is at this base, on the shore side. If you wish, download the following PDF document with a clearer image. You will need a PDF viewer.

Shipping containers being unloaded from the container ship San Christobal.

Here are some of the sights visible from the tender. I recall sitting next to the large rear window. Above is the large red container ship. From earlier posts, the San Christobal is docked at the outer berth. The ship is being unloaded, you can see a yellow shipping container on the crane.

Today, aneconomic reason for Iquque’s prosperity is the status as a duty free zone the government dubbed “ZOFRI.” Another is tourists flocking to this “Miami of South America” for duty free shopping (there is a mall), the shore lined with tall hotels and condominiums. Adventure-seekers love the surfing and hang gliding from the escarpment.

Notice the fishing nets in the stern with yellow floats

This is the scene close to the tender port, past mooring for smaller fishing and other boats.

Replica of the Chilean navy ship Esmeralda sunk during the Battle of Iquique. It is a nautical “living museum.” From the website: “The museum script of the Museum ‘Emerald Corvette’ is represented by thirteen museum scenes that inspire the guided tour, where it was recreated what life was like on board on May 20, 1879, the day before the historic Pacific War day.” The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is to the right of the ship stern. Here is a previous post with more about the Esmeralda in historical context.

After disembarkation, I looked back for this shot of our tender pilot.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique by Sea III

Thoughts on Approach to Iquique Harbor

Iquique was a Peruvian city under Chilean Naval blockade May 1879 during the War of the Pacific for control of valuable nitrate deposits in the Atacama desert. It was also called the “Saltpeter War.” Photographs from Valparaiso are featured here, starting with an overview of Plaza Sotomayor from the bridge of the ship Regatta docked in the harbor. Centered in the square is a memorial to the heroes of Iquique.

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View of the Monument to the Heroes of Iquique from the bridge of the Regatta.

On the morning of May 21, 1879, two older wooden Chilean ships were at station blockading the Iquique harbor, the corvette Esmeralda, Captained by Arturo Prat Chacón and the schooner Covadonga.

The Heroes’ Names are listed in large letters

Out of the thick morning fog two Peruvian ironclad ships emerged.

Each corner features a larger than life statue representing the heroes

Outgunned by the ironclads the Covadonga withdrew. Captain Prat stood his ground and the Esmeralda was destroyed with great loss of life.

One figure is Captain Prat

Peru won that battle and opened the port. News of the heroism of Captain Prat and crew aroused the Chilean population. The outcome of the War of the Pacific was a huge gain of territory for Chile, including the nitrate mines of the Atacama desert.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved