Cruise to the "balcony of town" on the elevators in Valparaisos
Southeast of Plaza Sotomayor, calles Prat, Cochrane and Esmeralda run through the old banking and commercial centre to Plaza Aníbal Pinto, around which are some of the city’s oldest bars and cafes. Above this part of El Plan are Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción, the heart of the UNESCO-designated area and for many the undisputed symbols of the city. Both are filled with brightly painted mansions and high-ceilinged 19th-century houses, some falling down but many now being restored to their former glory and some being extended upwards, despite supposedly restrictive planning regulations, a contentious issue for many in the local community. Cerro Concepción is as posh as Valparaíso gets, while Cerro Alegre has a more artistic, bohemian feel: brightly coloured murals abound, most of the shops seem to double as art galleries and, during university term, students can be seen on practically every street corner sketching buildings or the panoramic views. The two hills are connected to El Plan by three ascensores, of which Ascensor Concepción, inaugurated on 1 December 1883, is the oldest in Valparaíso. Three miradors offer views of the bay, over to Viña and beyond.