La Serena (Coquimbo), Chile
The port of Coquimbo is the gateway to La Serena, founded in 1544. Located in the transition zone between Chile's austere Atacama Desert and the country's fertile central valley, La Serena is a popular holiday resort. The nearby Elqui Valley is an agricultural center famed for grapes, papaya and cherimoya. The region was also home to the pre-Columbian Diaguita and El Molle cultures, noted for their fine ceramics and jewelry.
La Serena's central Plaza de Armas is home to superb colonial buildings and a 19th-century cathedral. La Recova - the artisan's marketplace - features copper and silver jewelry, glass works and ceramics.