Across the plaza from the market that no longer sells fruit and veg is the train station that no longer serves trains. The Estacion Mapocho was built at the beginning of the 20th century to celebrate Chilean independence and was the hub for all rail traffic serving northern Chile, the popular seaside city of Valparaiso and Argentina. An imposing and beautiful building, it was was declared a national monument in 1976. The demand and quality of rail traffic to northern Chile had however been decreasing up until then, and would continue to do so up until 1987 when the building was decommissioned due to serious structural decay. Since demolition of a national monument is expressly forbidden in Chile, the building remained in disuse and awaited repair until 1991 when the government put the remodelling of the station up for tender. The building was repaired and restored by the beginning of 1994. Since rail traffic was no longer operating to its former destinations, the station passed into a new life as a Cultural centre used primarily for art and photography exhibitions, musical performances and conventions. It is an absolutely fabulous building and we wandered its vast cavernous central space and browsed a recently opened photography exhibition called El Grito de Silencio (A Cry of Silence) which consisted of a series of larger-than-life portrait photographs of the victims of gender violence from the Mexican artist Karina Muench. She uses the photographic portrait as a means of artistic expression and protest the plight of abuse and violation suffered by women and children, in this exhibition focusing on cases in the city of La Paz, Bolivia. She is a wonderful portrait photographer and the images were very moving.
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