The capital city of Chile’s Araucanía region, Temuco is an important gateway to both the Chilean Lake District and the adventure capital of Pucón, as well as being the main access point for Conguíllo National Park. For Chileans it’s known best as the city where their national poet Pablo Neruda grew up and had some of his earliest poetry published.
Temuco was founded in 1881 in the heartlands of Mapuche territory. It’s complicated colonial history is on display in the city’s Plaza de Armas Aníbal Pinto, named for the president who ordered the town’s creation. In the plaza’s centre stands a massive statue called Homenaje a la Regíon de la Araucanía (Tribute to the Araucanía Region), which shows a female Mapuche shaman with a raised drum on a rocky plinth surrounded on four sides by the Mapuche leader Kallfulifan, the conquistador-poet Alonso de Ercilla, a soldier of the pacification and a modern colonist. The excellent Museo Regional de la Araucanía has a strong focus on Mapuche culture. On the northern edge of Temuco, the Monumento Natural Cerro Ñielol is a 90 hectare reserve of native forest, on the spot where Mapuche leaders ceded their territory to the colonists for the founding of the town.
The city is a major transport hub. Temuco’s Araucanía Airport (code ZCO) is 21km south of the city. From here it’s around a 90 minute flight to Santiago. Connections to Puerto Montt are also routed through Santiago; there are no direct flights from Temuco.
Pucón is 105km south of Temuco – about a 90 minute drive. There are direct long distance buses to most cities in Chile, as well services to Bariloche in Argentina.
Map of Temuco