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    Palacio AstorecaPalacio Astoreca Iquique, Chile
    The Astoreca palace in Iquique, Chile occupies the heart of the city and was commissioned by John Higinio Astoreca, a nitrate entrepreneur; completed in 1904, in the Georgian style constructed with Oregon pine and exquisitely furnished. It was made a national historic monument in 1994 and has become a museum of the university. Juan or John in English was a native of Basque and arrived in Chile to be an engineer, with his brother, Fidel Gregorio. He became a successful merchant and married Felisa Farm, the daughter of a rich business family that included nitrate production. The couple would have five children, Moses, Matthew, Jose, Maria and Maria Felitas, as Juan became the owner of the saltpeter mine located in the area. The palace construction began in 1903 that was designed by architects Miguel Retornano and Alberto Cruz, with many well known building designed by them in the nitrate boom. Juan passed away before the mansion was completed, so his family moved to Valpraiso, and in 1909, Felisa sold the estate with all its furnishings to pay for the taxes on the large estate. The palace would then be occupied by the offices of the Quartermaster of the Tarapaca province, who would continue staying in the palace until 1977 and it would then become a museum. The palace is two stories, constructed with Douglas fir and partitioned with mortar, covering over 3500 square feet of space and housing 27 rooms. The main facade has three symmetrical bays with porches of balustrades and balconies, with the center bay containing a pediment. It has a rounded arch that ends on the second floor veranda and a Dutch roof. The interior has American oak flooring, with trim in walnut and a beautiful stained glass style in the art noveau style. The majority of the rooms contain the original furniture and is Louis XVI neo and neo-renaissance French styling along with others.

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    Museo RegionalRegional Museum of Iquique, Chile
    The regional museum in Iquique, Chile contains numerous galleries that take you through the history of the Iquique region with various galleries housing the development of the indigenous cultures that start with the Chinchorros that lived along the coast from 4000 to 2000 BC and even contain mummies found in the region. A few showcase the rise and fall, as well as influence of the Tiwanaku and Inca empires, along with modern Aymara traditions. There is an exhibit of the nitrate boom era, and another with token money that was paid to the workers in lieu of national currency. The museum is located in a former courthouse in Iquique, which is today a historic monument and was founded in 1960, with collections growing and expanding each year it was open. Its exhibits include; the archaeological cultures of Pica, Chinchorro, Tarapaca and Inca, with ethnographic representations of the people of Islauga, a collection of tools, photographs and objects used in the mining of nitrates. The museum is part of the University of the North, in an old structure in another part of the city but would have to move eventually since it would outgrow it. There are also exhibits of historical elements, mummies and ceramics that include the first and original anthropological samples.

May 5, 2011