Puerto Varas

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Puerto Varas
City and Commune
View of Puerto Varas with Osorno Volcano and Llanquihue Lake in the background.
View of Puerto Varas with Osorno Volcano and Llanquihue Lake in the background.
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Location of Puerto Varas commune in Los Lagos Region
Location of Puerto Varas commune in Los Lagos Region
Puerto Varas is located in Chile
Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas
Location in Chile
Coordinates: 41°19′S 72°59′W / 41.317°S 72.983°W / -41.317; -72.983Coordinates: 41°19′S 72°59′W / 41.317°S 72.983°W / -41.317; -72.983
Country Chile
Region Los Lagos
Province Llanquihue
Founded as Puerto Varas
Founded 12 February 1854
 • Type Municipality
 • Alcalde Álvaro Berger Schmidt (PS)
 • Total 4,064.9 km2 (1,569.5 sq mi)
Elevation 5 m (16 ft)
Population (2012 Census)[2]
 • Total 37,561
 • Density 9.2/km2 (24/sq mi)
 • Urban 24,309
 • Rural 8,603
Demonym Puertovarino
 • Men 16,645
 • Women 16,267
Time zone CLT (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST) CLST (UTC−3)
Area code(s) 56 + 65
Website Official website (Spanish)

Puerto Varas is a city and commune located in the southern Chilean province of Llanquihue, in the Los Lagos Region.

The city is well known for its German traditions,[3] its food, its fish and seafood, the natural environment, its casino and 5 star hotels. Only 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Puerto Montt, located on the shore of the Llanquihue Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in South America. The perfect cone of Osorno Volcano and the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Calbuco and Mt. Tronador are clearly visible from the lakefront. Puerto Varas is the southernmost of a string of towns on the western shore of Llanquihue Lake that includes Frutillar, Llanquihue and Puerto Octay.


Llanquihue Lake and Osorno Volcano, Puerto Varas

The city of Puerto Varas, also known as "La ciudad de las rosas" or “the city of roses”, was founded in 1854 by Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Puerto Varas is a city located in southern Chile a territory of northern Patagonia in the Los Lagos Region. The Chilean Patagonia starts at Latitude 39° South in Valdivia and then it continues through the Chiloe Island and the fiords that continue its course south through the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de los Andes until it reaches Latitude 56° South at Cape Horn.

The city is named after Antonio Varas, minister of the interior during the presidency of Manuel Montt, when the city was founded. The Montt administration offered lands around Lake Llanquihue for mostly German speaking Europeans (Germans, Swiss, Austrians, Silesians, Alsatians, etc.) to settle and farm those lands. Puerto Varas was founded as the main port on the lake, connected by road to the nearest seaport, Puerto Montt. This homesteading program continued through the remainder of the 19th century. So at the end of that year came the first German colonists who settled the shores of Lake Llanquihue. Arriving the following families from Germany: Beck, Bittner, Hoffmann, Gebauer, Klenner, Kuschel, Lückeheide, Minte, Mittesteiner, Müller, Nettig, Schminke, Schwabe, Schwalz, Strauch, Tampe, Vyhmeister, Von Bischoffshausen, among many others.[4]

Colonization of Southern Chile[edit]

The Chilean government encouraged German immigration in 1848, a time of revolution in Germany. Before that Bernhard Eunom Philippi recruited nine working families to emigrate from Hesse to Chile.

German Colonization in Chile took place in the nineteenth century by German immigrants. Thanks to the "selective immigration law" enacted in 1845, more than 6,000 families (between 30,000 and 40,000 Germans) settled in the area of Valdivia, Osorno and Llanquihue in the towns of Frutillar, Puerto Octay, Puerto Varas, Faja Maisan and Puerto Montt all areas known as Northern Patagonia, in the south of the country.

The exact number German-Chileans is unknown, because many of the early arrivals' descendants have intermarried and assimilated over the past 150 years. Almost 56,000 are known to have been born in Germany (2009), and approximate figures suggest 500,000 to 600,000 direct descendants.[5]

The German military culture had great influence on the Army of Chile. At the end of the 19th century, adopted the Prussian military tradition, especially after the Civil War of 1891. A German-Chilean, Emil Körner, reached the rank of commander-in-chief of the Army in 1900.

Subsequently, a new wave of German immigrants arrived in Chile, with many settling in Temuco, and Santiago.


According to the 2002 census of the National Statistics Institute, Puerto Varas spans an area of 4,064.9 km2 (1,569 sq mi) and has 32,912 inhabitants (16,645 men and 16,267 women). Of these, 24,309 (73.9%) lived in urban areas and 8,603 (26.1%) in rural areas. The population grew by 24.1% (6,383 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses.[2]


German influence is visible in southern Chile: Puerto Varas Church

What most distinguishes the city of Puerto Varas is its architecture, strong German influence, which resembles a people taken from a European spot. Although of course, the beauty of the landscape has an attractive beaten. Puerto Varas is located in a spectacular natural environment with. A route that connects to a border crossing into the town of Bariloche in Argentina, offers a route along Lake Llanquihue with its landscapes framed by snowy peaks. Most of the Forest and the area are completely unspoilt and are ideal for hiking.

Puerto Varas a historical treasure of strong German features. The houses that have been declared cultural heritage are the Sacred Heart Church, the Kuschel House (presently owned by Douglas Tompkins), the German House, the Schwerter House and the Niklitschek House.


Puerto Varas has a rainy temperate climate. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, and it is this climate that produces the evergreen forest lakes.[this quote needs a citation] While in winter there are more rainy days, as well as snowfall, storms are less intense and accompanied by high winds north and northwest. Spring produces more intense and violent rains, but these are of shorter duration than during the winter.


Cultural institutions in the region are the Salón Azul of the Municipal Government, in which diverse activities are realized, such as theater plays, movie screenings, concerts and talks.[6]


Baumkuchen, literally translated "tree cake" or "log cake"

The gastronomy stands out for the German pastry, especially the Kuchen (cake),[7] cookies, cakes, chocolates and craft marmalades, and traditional German food, that can be found in many coffees, restaurants and hotels of the area.

There is also an interesting gastronomy associated to the good meats of the south of Chile (veal, lamb, deer, pig, etc.), cured meats and home-made beers brew by the descendants of German colonists, the fish and seafood of the neighbour and picturesque Puerto Montt, the southern cheeses and the industry of the salmon that greatly contributed to the development of the Los Lagos Region.


The great growth of Puerto Montt (20 kilometres or 12 miles south by highway), has spurred growth of Puerto Varas as a residential town and an important tourist destination. Puerto Varas now has an excellent hotel infrastructure, wide variety of restaurants, cultural events, in addition to being the departure point for fascinating tourist attractions in surroundings of dramatic geography turning it into the tourist capital of the Lakes Region.

Osorno Volcano has a ski resort that is located less than an hour from the city, which is accessible by a route almost entirely paved, which is bordering Lake Llanquihue, close to Ensenada. Right on the shore of the lake, the ski resort has a spectacular view over the region.[8]


As a commune, Puerto Varas is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde who is directly elected every four years. The 2012–2016 alcalde is Álvaro Berger Schmidt (PS).[1]

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Puerto Varas is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Fidel Espinoza (PS) and Felipe DeMussy Hiriart (UDI) as part of the 56th electoral district, (together with Puyehue, Río Negro, Purranque, Puerto Octay, Fresia, Frutillar, Llanquihue and Los Muermos). The commune is represented in the Senate by Rabindranath Quinteros (PS) and ( Iván Moreira ) (UDI) as part of the 17th senatorial constituency (Los Lagos Region).


  1. ^ a b "Municipality of Puerto Varas" (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "National Statistics Institute" (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  3. ^ (Spanish) Puerto Varas, 150 Años de Historia (1852 —2002)
  4. ^ (Spanish) Historia de Puerto Varas
  5. ^ Chilean Embassy in Germany.
  6. ^ http://www.ptovaras.cl/home/spanish/noticias.php?id_noticia=567&PHPSESSID=tlicodyf
  7. ^ (Spanish) Día del Kuchen en Puerto Varas
  8. ^ (Spanish) Puerto Varas

External links[edit]