martes, 23 de noviembre de 2010

SANTIAGO: LOS INICIOS DE LA VIDA URBANA

A comienzos de 1541, los hombres de Valdivia ya habían explorado la zona donde acampaban, descubriendo una especie de isla formada por los dos brazos del río Mapocho, que se separaban a la altura de la actual calle Pío Nono y se juntaban en las cercanías de la Avenida Brasil. Pedro de Valdivia se dio cuenta de que era un lugar estratégico, pues además de la protección de río tenían un cerro, el Huelén (hoy Santa Lucía), que podía servir de atalaya para observar los movimientos indígenas. Decidió entonces, levantar allí la ciudad, desde la cual extendería la conquista del resto del territorio.
Las ciudades fundadas por los españoles en America se delineaban en forma de damero o tablero de ajedrez, con calles que se cortaban en ángulo recto. Cada cuadra estaba dividida en cuatro solares, asignados a los conquistadores de acuerdo a su importancia social y a los aportes económicos que habían efectuado para financiar la campaña. Los solares principales eran los más próximos a la Plaza de Armas (cada ciudad tenía la suya), a cuyos costados debían levantarse la catedral y los edificios del Cabildo, la Real Audiencia (si la había) y el palacio del virrey o gobernador.
El 12 de febrero de 1541 quedó fundada, legalmente al menos, la ciudad de Santiago del Nuevo Extremo. De inmediato, el alarife Pedro de Gamboa procedió a dividir el terreno en cuadras: de este a oeste (desde el cerro Huelén hasta lo que hoy es la Avenida Brasil) se trazaron 12 manzanas, y de norte a sur, entre los dos brazos del Mapocho, siete u ocho.
Valdivia designó a los vecinos, les entregó solares y prometió darles tierras e indios. No todos merecieron ser vecinos, porque quienes tenían la condición de tales debían cumplir una serie de obligaciones, siendo la principal de ellas contribuir a la defensa de la ciudad y, en caso de ausentarse, dejar a alguien en reemplazo. Tal era el llamado ejército vecinal.
De inmediato comenzaron a construirse las casa, con paredes de ramas recubiertas con barro y techos de paja, muy parecidas a las rucas mapuche.-

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