Chilean Navy and CNCA Restores Valparaíso Naval Battery
Valparaíso was the backdrop on Tuesday morning for the official presentation of the Battery Esmeralda Conservation and Restoration Project.
Translated by Erika Hearthway
VALPARAÍSO – This initiative was funded by the Heritage Reconstruction Fund of the National Council of Culture and the Arts, or the CNCA. Those presiding over the ceremony included regional authorities as well as the Minister of Culture, Luciano Cruz-Coke; the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Admiral Edmundo Gonzalez; and the Commander-in-Chief of the First Naval Zone, Rear Admiral Julio Leiva Molina.
“Erected in 1879 following the War of the Pacific, this defense structure, the only of its kind and the first to be declared a historical monument in Valparaíso, is now being restored through the collaborative efforts and funding by both the Maritime Heritage Corporation and the National Council of Culture and the Arts through its Heritage Reconstruction Program,” Minister Cruz-Coke announced.
“The program, initiated immediately after the 2010 earthquake, has substantially contributed to safeguarding Chile’s tangible heritage, which had been left virtually defenseless.”
Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Admiral Edmundo González, stressed, “This battery is the only of its kind in the Americas. We have no record of any other with similar features, such as roofing and 600-pound cannons. We have taken the first step toward maintaining the artillery pieces and converting the battery into a spectacular museum.”
Located in Punta Duprat at the entrance of the port, the Esmeralda Battery is one of the port’s first buildings of historic interest. Built between 1879 and 1881 and declared a national monument in 1938, this fort is the only survivor of a series of batteries that were built to defend against attacks after the Spanish bombardment in 1866. Valparaíso did not come under attack again, and the battery was used as a fortress for only nine years before being converted into a naval storage unit.
The overall investment comes to CL$71.4 million and was financed in part by the Chilean Maritime Heritage Corporation, the entity responsible for the restoration project’s execution. The Chilean Navy is conducting the restoration itself, with technical advice from professionals from DUOC-UC’s Heritage Restoration program. Once restored, the Esmeralda Battery will join the Ruta Patrimonial y Turística de la Armada (Naval Touristic and Heritage Route) alongside the Monumento a los Héroes de Iquique (Heroes of Iquique Monument), the Faro Punta de Ángeles (Punta de Ángeles Lighthouse), and the Museo Naval y Marítimo (Naval and Maritime Museum), among others.
The Heritage Reconstruction Support Program
The Heritage Reconstruction Support Program was created to restore buildings of historical interest in the areas affected by the earthquake on February 27, 2010. During the three years since its inception, this initiative has directly delivered over CL$7 billion for the recovery of 95 heritage buildings across Chile.
The program seeks to incentivize public-private partnerships, in which the CNCA finances 50% of the project and the entity undertaking the project must secure the remaining funds from other sources, in order to be eligible for benefits under the Chilean Ley de Donaciones Culturales (Cultural Donations Law).
Three years after its implementation, and faced with the need to permanently restore buildings of historical importance, the Heritage Fund will be established in 2013. It will provide the resources to be put these types of nationwide restoration projects into action.
The Esmeralda Battery (Batería Esmeralda) is located on Playa San Mateo, on Altamirano Street on the northern edge of the shipyards. It is closet to the Puerto Metro stop, and from there it is probably easiest to jump in a taxi.