at the shores of the Villarrica Lake, is located in the
Araucanía Region, which is the main territory where
the Mapuche people live in Chile. For years the region suffered
the struggle of the Spanish conquerors trying to annex the
land to the rest of the country, and the firm resistence
that the indians put against them. However, the process
called the "Pacification of the Araucanía”
finally was completed towards the end of the 19th century,
and was later reinforced with the colonization by Centereurope
inmigrants sponsored by the Chilean Government at the time
of the century turn.
Pucón, which in Mapudungun means “enter to
the mountains”, was founded on February 27th, 1883.
To make it possible to establish the town, the commander
of the Chilean Army Gregorio Urrutia sealed a pact with
the local cacique Pocollanca, leader of the Mapuche in the
zone. The original settlement was made where the main square
is nowadays, and it had the characteristics of a military
fort at first. The Mapuche people was sent to "reductions"
in Quelhue, Palguín Bajo and Curarrehue.
the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th,
the Chilean Government sponsored the colonization of the
new annexed territories, inviting Centereuropean inmigrants
to come to the region. That is how the young town received
new neighbours with the arrival of the families Geiss, Nappe,
Holzapfel, Gudenschwager, Quezada, Matus and Ansorena. Also
among the oldest families of Pucón there are the
Panguilef and Painepán. Years later, there was another
migratory wave, this time from the Middle East, with the
merchant families Eltit and Zerené.
the first years, the base of Pucón's economy was
the forest and agricultural production, the trade of timber
and livestock. In 1923 the Hotel Gudenschwager was founded
at La Poza, which was a strategic place right by the pier
where the boats arrived from Villarrica, the only means
of communication with the outer world in the time. The touristic
impulse started with the construction in 1934 of the Gran
Hotel Pucón next to the main beach. The Chilean Government
built this luxury complex with a park and golf court. The
idea was to promote the region as a paradise for sport fishing.
And having this kind of public in mind, during the '40s
new hotels were built, like the Hotel Antumalal by Guillermo
in the 40s was opened the road that connects Villarrica
with Pucón, which meant a big progress for the region,
since until then all kind of communication was only possible
through the boats that navigated the lake. Towards the end
of the 60s the road got paved, giving a new impulse to the
touristic industry, making it easier the arrival of visitors
to the zone.
in the 21st century, Pucón is connected with the
world. And thanks to its undeniable natural beauties, it
is considered one of the main touristic destinations in
Chile, welcoming every year thousands of national and international
visitors. The influence of the pionners that arrived to
the region almost 150 yeas ago is still there in the name
of the main streets, and important local institutions are
still under the management of the descendants of those pioneers,
like the Hotel Antumalal, Termas Huife and the Supermarket
Eltit, just to mention some.
Mapuche roots are also still present, since most of the
places in the region have names in Mapudungun (Catripulli,
Curarrehue, Huerquehue, Caburgua, etc). Some years ago was
inaugurated a Mapuche Museum in Pucón, which displays
a collection of objects, artifacts and jewelry. There has
been also an impulse to the indigenous gastronomy, that
is possible to taste at Curarrehue, and there has been an
attempt too to rescue the legacy of the original owners
of this land, their traditions and customs, like the celebration
of the We Tripantru (Mapuche's New Year).
is today a mixture of people that is still arriving to this
region full of dreams, projects and ideas, just the same
as the first pionners did. Many have come from other parts
of Chile, hoping for better chances and quality of life.
And even it is far-fetched to talk about a "migratory
wave", every year many foreigners arrive seduced by
the beauty of this place, with the idea of making this land
their new home. According to the National Census of 2002,
Pucón registered 13.837 inhabitants, and was proportionally
one of the cities with biggest growth in the country.