Talca is a city of 220,000 people (2017) in Central Chile. It is the capital of Talca Province and of Maule Region. Talca personifies the Chilean characteristics of being isolated, insular and very local. Most travellers from Santiago to the south pass right through and have no experience of Talca, a busy medium-sized city with cars, taxis, buses, bicycles and horse-drawn carts in the streets.
The city is an important economic center, with agricultural (wheat) and manufacturing activities, as well as wine production. Common crops are vegetables, fruit trees and cereals, in the rural sectors of the commune. However, it is the vineyards that acquire special importance, being the Maule Valley, whose head is Talca, the area with the highest wine production in the country with about 45% of the total.
Livestock activity (mainly pigs and poultry) is important since important industries are based on it. Mining, represented by the El Chivato (gold) deposit, is almost inactive today. It is also the location of the Universidad de Talca and the Catholic University of Maule, among others.
Talca is the main industrial center of the region and the Central Valley. It houses industries that deal with the processing of agricultural resources in the adjacent area. Outstanding items are the paper, wood, plastics and metallurgy industry; canning, milling, food and beverage industry, andcmeat and sausage processing.
It was partially destroyed by the 1928 Talca earthquake, and was rebuilt. The earthquake of February 2010 destroyed most of the old buildings in the region, including many of historical-heritage value, affecting residential areas and infrastructure.
- 1 CONAF, Calle Tres Sur 654, ☏ , email@example.com. Provides all the information on nearby national parks and hiking opportunities.
Winters are cold with frequent rains and fogs, frosts are also frequent from mid-autumn to early spring, reaching below 0 ° C in most winters. Summers are generally hot and dry, with highs that frequently exceed 30 ° C, but with cool lows, slightly exceeding 10 ° C.
Talca is accessible by the main highway of Chile, the Ruta 5, a modern and well-maintained toll road with a 120 km/h speed limit which is part of the Panamerican Highway system. Getting in to the city from the highway involves many unmarked turns that leave you feeling that the city is not interested in visitors.
Regional paved roads lead westward to Talca from the Pacific Ocean. To the west, the San Clemente road is paved to within 80 km of the Argentine border at the rugged Paso Pehuenche which is open for about 2 months of the year, otherwise closed and impassible because of snow.
Bus service to Talca is frequent from in all four directions.
- [dead link] Venta Pasajes. Buses from Santiago's Borja station every 3 hours. The trip takes 3 hr 5 min. 5800-8200 pesos.
- Tepual. Buses from Santiago's Borja station twice daily, 3 hr 20 min. 8200 pesos.
There is train service north and south with a special and rustic train that makes the trip to the coast.
- Tren Central. 3 hr 6 min, twice daily. 8200 pesos coach, 21,700 pesos preferential class.
Small black cars that run routes through the city, their cost are CLP$450-600 pesos for a ride. They are quicker and more comfortable.
There are 36 lines of colectivos:
- 1,2,3,13,14,19,20,23,24,25,34,2A: Southwest - downtown - Northwest
- 18,22,15,16,28,30,31: Southwest - downtown - Northeast
- 4,6,9,10,21,27,27A,29,32,33: Northwest - downtown - Northeast (or Northwest)
- 15,16: Southwest - downtown - Northeast
- 15A: Colín, Maule - downtown - Northeast
- 5,7,8,12: Southeast - downtown - Northeast
Buses (called micros) go to all parts of town for CLP$400, CLP$130 students.
There are 12 lines of micros:
- 1,2,4,6 Ex-Matadero, Sotratal S.A.
- 3,3B,5,7 Abate Molina
- A,B,C,D Taxutal
A special and rustic train that makes the trip to the coast at Constitución.
- Colin - Pichamán: 1200 pesos
- Forel - Maquehua: 1800 pesos
- Constitución: 2100 pesos
- Maquehua - Curtiduría: 1200 pesos
- Corinto - Colín: 1800 pesos
- Talca: 2100 pesos
Talca has many historical buildings:
- Intendencia Regional (Regional Intendance), 1 Oriente w/ 1 Norte (In front of Central Square Park (Plaza de Armas)). Built in the last years of 19th century, declared a National Monument in 2001. In 2010, after the Great Earthquake, was seriously damaged and remains closed. Here, until 2010, was settled the Regional Intendance (regional government) and the Regional Council (regional assembly).
- 1 Edificio de los Servicios Públicos (Public Services Building), 1 Oriente 1150 (In front of Central Square Park, Plaza de Armas). Built in the 1930s, next to Regional Intendance, was seat of the Apellation Court. Now, in this place resides the Internal Taxes Service (SII), the Tourism Office, the General Treasury of the Republic, the Post Office, and many other public offices. Declared a National Monument in 2008.
- Museo O' Higginiano y de Bellas Artes de Talca (O'Higgins' and Arts Museum), 1 Norte w/ 2 Oriente. In this house Bernardo O'Higgins signed the Independence Act in 1818. Declared National Monument in 1971.
- Museo de Huilquilemu (Huilquilemu Museum). Colonial-style house on the road to San Clemente, 10 km (16 mi) away. It haves a prolific collection of fine and popular art, archeological treasures and other exhibitions. Was declared National Monument in 1986 and belongs to the Catholic University of Maule.
- Escuelas Concentradas (Conjoined Schools), Square: 1 Sur between 3 and 4 Oriente. Declared a National Monument in 2013 in order to avoid the demolition after the 2010 earthquake. In front of Cienfuegos Park. In this building were the Primary Schools for Boys (Carlos Salinas school) and Girls (José Balmaceda school).
Other important buildings are:
- Cathedral Church (1 Norte w/ 1 Poniente C. Silva Henríquez)
- Abate Molina Lyceum (4 Norte btwn. 5 and 6 Oriente)
- Railway Station (11 Oriente S. Allende, in front of La Loba square and 2 Sur Ms. Larraín)
- Regional Center of Provision (4 Norte w/ 11 Oriente)
- Public Prosecutor building, former Talca Bank (1 Sur w/ 1 Oriente)
- In general, the Central Square Park and 1 Sur street concentrates many old buildings of great value.
- 1 Descabezado Grande (3953 m). To the east of Talca the Region del Maule offers vast hiking opportunities exist with Volcano Descabezado being one of the more popular destinations. Also, Parque Nacional Radal Siete Tazas, Altos de Lircay National Reserve, Lengua de Vulcano, Laguna La Invernada, Cerro Azul and Cerro Calabozos can be found here. Check out the CONAF website and the local office in Talca center for more information.
- Wine Route: Circuit through the vineyards of the Maule Valley, which is centered in the city of Talca. It is a highly demanded tourist walk, especially by visitors from abroad.
- Chancho Costumbrista Festival: Also known as the "We are Dead Pig Festival", it is a gastronomic exhibition promoted by the Municipality during two days in August. It is held in the Plaza de Armas, where stands are exhibited with pork products, prepared by many chefs in different positions. This festival evokes one of the customs of the Chilean countryside, which is the slaughter of the pig, and the family and social rite that summons around it for the manufacture of by-products that will feed the people of the countryside during the winter.
- Hiking. To the east of Talca an area of vast hiking opportunities exist. Some highlights:
- 1 Mercado Central (Central Market), Square: 1 Sur - 5 Oriente - 1 Norte - 4 Oriente. Inaugurated in 1890, declared National Monument in 1998, was until 2010 the principal market of typical and popular products. With the Great Earthquake, remains closed due to several damages, except in a narrow part.