Funicular lift or Ascensor in Valparaiso
Valparaiso is built on a hill ascending from the busy port area. Most of the houses are up the hillsides. In order to allow the residents easy access to their homes from their jobs down in the city and port, the funiculars were built up the hillsides in various places. They have become quite an attraction of the city and if you are in Valparaiso then take the opportunity to have a ride in one. It is pretty cheap and lasts only a few minutes but it is experiencing a bit of Valparaiso history and you get a great view from the top.
At the height of their popularity there were nearly thirty of these funicular lifts taking residents from the city and port up to the more residential areas on the hillside. Now I understand there are only eight still being used these days. The funiculars were originally built in 1892 and have of course been upgraded and repaired over the years. They have become so much a part of Valparaiso history that they were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998.
The funicular we went in was a bit ancient and scruffy looking and reminded me of a railway cattle truck like. It was wooden and rough with the windows quite high, broken and rather dirty and all in all it was looking its age. However looking at these carriages from the outside they were much more attractive with external bright coloured painting.
The attraction of the ride was its novelty value and the very splendid view when you reach the top. As you leave you pass through several local stalls where you can buy drinks and food as well as souvenirs. The stall holders were the least pushy salespeople I have ever come across and we just walked straight passed them and out onto the area outside
The view point looked a bit like a park bandstand, there was also a small market with lots of stalls. Very handy for us as we had been travelling quite some time was the fact that there were toilets pointed out by our guide. They were not the cleanest I have ever used but they were okay and did the job.
Rather than spend money and time looking at stalls we chose to walk around the streets at the top here and take some photos of the colourful houses .We spent about forty five minutes walking around about four or five streets and alleys taking photos before we had to get back in the mini bus and continue the tour.