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La Serena

La Serena ( Northern Area), Chile


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, located 471 km (293 mi) to the south.[3] It has a communal population of 190,716 (2006 projection, and 400,000 for the Greater La Serena) area, the country's fourth largest conurbation (pop. 300,000, 2002 census), which includes nearby Coquimbo with an area of 1,892.80 km2 (731 sq mi). It is one of the fastest-growing areas of Chile, witnessing a population increase of 32.6% between 1992 and 2002.
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.
The old part of the city presents the only architecture in the country, dividing for being the biggest Typical Zone of Chile, adempas of being the zone of architectural and historical preservation inside an urban, more important zone of the Country. The churches stand out with models of belfries, there being gained the title of City of the belfries.
Church Cathedral of La Serena (Historical Monument from 1981) Construction initiated by the French architect Jean Herbage, the year 1844, and dedicated in 1856. It is the biggest temple of the city, constructed in neoclassic style, measures 60 meters of extension per 20 meters of width, with 3 central bodies. Inside one finds the organ donated by the filántropa calm down 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 centre, 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 one of the most crowded walks of La Serena, joining El Faro Monumental, in the south with an extension of 6 km and adjacent with Peñuelas's beach (Coquimbo). However, the beaches of La Serena have very rough water and are not suitable for swimming. In comparison Coquimbo's beaches, such as The Horse-shoe have very calm water and clean sands.
This avenue includes 12 sections of beaches known like: El Faro, Los Fuertes, Mansa, Blanca, La Barca, 4 Esquinas, La Marina, El Pescador, El Corsario, Hipocampo, Las Gaviotas y Canto del Agua. All of them except the beacon are suitable for the swimming and aquatic and nautical sports. In the recent years the La Serena Song Festival (created in 2004) has been acquiring national importance, due to the great quality of the invited artists. Also projects have been approved as a new international airport. Real estate development along the beach has created a tourist residential development from the Elqui river.
La Serena holds offices for the European Southern Observatory organisation (operator of La Silla Observatory), AURA, Inc. (operator of Cerro Tololo and Gemini observatories), and for the Carnegie Institution for Science (operator of Las Campanas Observatory).
Close to la Serena the reknown and mystical Elqui Valley.

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