OK so this is possibly Santiago’s most important building. It was built in 1805. It is immense and, as my online walking tour pointed out, takes up a whole block. It has served several functions over the years. It has been a mint, it is currently governmental office space and in the past it has been the presidential palace. This part is important, as follows.
I am currently reading this, The Chile Reader: History, Culture, Politics (2013), Hutchison, Klubock, Milanich & Winn (Eds).
It contains a very vivid essay, Diary of a Coup, by Peter Winn, who personally witnessed the military coup of 1973 in which tanks and military police turned on the presidential palace. Democratically elected Marxist president Salvador Allende gave his last speech with the sound of gunfire and explosions in the background, and died in controversial circumstances later that day. With that, democracy in Chile screeched to a halt and the reign of terror of General Augusto Pinochet began, which lasted right up until 1990. A regime which did not tolerate perceived opponents and caused the death of 3,000 people and tortured as many as 30,000. This, then, is the presidential palace, La Moneda, where the coup happened. It was amazing to see it in real life and I felt very privileged.
A view of La Moneda from the other side of the building, the back door, I guess, where the sun was actually shining. I was doing this part of the walking tour at about 11 in the morning.
Those armed police are called Carabineros. Here, they are protecting the building but on 11th September 1973, they were attacking it.
In the basement of La Moneda, there is an art gallery, the Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda, which I visited.