Sewell, Chile: World Heritage Town

Photo by Mali

Sewell is located at an altitude of over 2,000 metres in the Andes mountains. A copper mining town, this year UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site. La Libélula (ES) explains a little of history, as well as the social scene:

Sewell was established at the beggining of this century in Chile by the Braden Copper Company, and was the home of thousands of miners, workers and functionaries who carried out activities related to commerce, health, education and entertainment. Its unique location in the middle of the mountains gave rise to a city full of staircases and twists which adapted themselves to the unusual topography of the area. The buildings also reflected the social stratifications that existed inside the camp, with houses for the miner families and houses for the office workers and “the American population” where the American and Chilean hierarchy lived.

Mali (ES) has a post about a conversation she has about the Sewell lifestyle with some elderly relatives who used to live there:

“My uncle got a job for my dad in the hospital and we all moved over there. I loved Sewell so much that I couldn’t be happier. We almost never went down to the city, because Sewell had everything. It had a cinema, a pool, bowling and also a lot of kids!! As time passed, the sons started getting married. In the beginning, there were miners, the professionals and the gringos. Then, they all started mixing. Because they started establishing private schools and high schools, the sons of the gringos got married to the daughters of the professionals or miners, and a lot of gringo last names appeared and the place started filling up with children.”

Mali also posts some beautiful pictures of the town, as does Beatriz Valenzuela (ES), who writes about an experience she had in the Sewell Hospital:

I asked the nurse if I could keep the metal cup. In it I used to clean my paintbrushes. My stay in the hospital was long, probably because of my age and the time of year: I was 6 years and it was Christmas. They decide to put me in quarantine because the diagnosis was serious: typhoid. I still remember the bath they gave me to take the fever down and how my head almost exploded. . . . noises in the distance. . . fever.

In its heyday, Sewell had a population of around 15,000. The town will remain in the hearts of Chileans for a long time.

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