La Serena, Chile

La Serena, Chile

La Serena

La Serena is the second-oldest city in Chile, founded in 1544, the capital of the Coquimbo Region. La Serena enjoys a unique blend of exquisite architecture and an extensive golden coastline, presenting itself as a haven for those seeking a contemplative beach retreat.

Renowned as a significant tourist destination, particularly for Chileans and Argentines, La Serena experiences a surge in visitors, especially during the summer months, drawn by the allure of its beaches. The city houses the University of La Serena and serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of La Serena, one of the five Catholic Archdioceses within the ecclesiastical structure of the Catholic Church in Chile.

Brief History of La Serena

La Serena’s founding is deeply rooted in the strategic vision of Pedro de Valdivia, a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. Ordered by Valdivia, the city was established in 1544 with the specific purpose of creating a vital sea link to facilitate constant communication between Santiago, the capital of Chile, and Lima, a significant city in the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the region that would become La Serena was inhabited by various indigenous groups, including the Diaguita and El Molle cultures. These indigenous peoples had developed their own societies, customs, and ways of life in the coastal and inland areas of what is now northern Chile.

The establishment of La Serena marked a significant chapter in the colonial history of Chile, as it became a key settlement in the Spanish efforts to control and administer their South American territories. The city’s strategic location, positioned along the Pacific coast, made it a crucial link in the communication and trade routes connecting different parts of the Spanish Empire in South America.

The coexistence of Spanish colonial influences and the pre-existing indigenous cultures in the region has contributed to the diverse historical and cultural tapestry of La Serena, making it a city with a layered and complex history. This blend of indigenous roots and Spanish colonial legacy continues to shape the city’s identity and character to this day.

The 17th century posed significant challenges for La Serena, as the city endured multiple attacks from privateers, contributing to a tumultuous period in its history. Among the notable figures involved were Francis Drake, who, in 1578, opened the Pacific route to the English and targeted the city. Bartholomew Sharp engaged in partial burning and looting in 1680, while Edward Davis set fire to the convent of Santo Domingo in 1686, instilling fear among the population. These privateer attacks prompted the city’s defence efforts in 1700 to safeguard against further assaults.

In addition to the threat of privateers, La Serena faced a devastating natural disaster. The earthquake of 8 July 1730 wreaked havoc on the city, nearly obliterating it and further testing the resilience of its inhabitants.

The challenges continued into the 19th century during the Revolution of 1859, a rebellion against the conservative government. During this period, forces led by Pedro Leon Gallo captured La Serena. However, Gallo’s forces suffered defeat at the Battle of Cerro Grande, orchestrated by an army from Santiago. Following this victory, the occupying forces from Santiago took control of the city, marking a chapter of political upheaval in La Serena’s history.


The commune of La Serena covers a surface area of 1,892.8 km2. The city itself is situated on ocean terraces, providing distinct topographical features that are easily discernible from the coastal regions and extend through the downtown area to the eastern sector along the Vicuña way. Beyond the coastal terraces, the urban landscape of La Serena encompasses various small hills, valleys, and plains, contributing to the diverse and picturesque geography of the city. This combination of coastal terraces and varied landforms gives La Serena a unique and visually appealing urban and natural layout.

La Serena is typically divided into several distinct sectors, each contributing to the city’s diverse landscape. In the northern part of the city lies the airline sector, further subdivided into two sub-sectors known as High and Low Company. Adjacent to this area is San Pedro Creek, adding a natural element to the northern surroundings.

Twin-Town and Sister-City Relationships

La Serena has established several twin-town and sister-city relationships. As of the information provided:

  • Changzhou, China
  • Hawaii County, United States
  • Kraków, Poland
  • Millbrae, United States
  • San Juan, Argentina
  • Talavera de la Reina, Spain
  • Tenri, Japan
  • Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico
  • Castuera, Spain
  • Campanario, Spain

La Serena Statistic

La Serena StatisticLa Serena Data
Named forLa Serena, Spain
NicknameThe city of the belfries
Total Area1,892.8 km2
Elevation28 m
Estimated Population205,635
Official Website
La Serena, Chile
La Serena, Chile