Before ex-dictator Pinochet seized power and moved the National Congress to Valparaíso, Congress met inside a handsome, French neoclassical edifice, with Corinthian pillars and lush gardens -- a far cry from the Stalinesque monstrosity the government built for Congress in that port town. Today the building houses the foreign ministry and is not open to the public. Across the street, the Palace of the Courts of Justice stretches the entire block. The palace is home to the Supreme Court, the Appeals Court, and the Military Court, and it was the site of the birth of the First National Government Assembly. Interestingly, the building's stern exterior belies one of the most beautiful interiors found in Santiago, with vaulted metal and glass ceilings that run the length of the building, dappling the walls with soft light. Leave your ID at the front, and take a quick stroll through this exquisite foyer if you've got the time.
- © Frommer's 2013
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