The first stone of the austere Iglesia de San Francisco was laid in 1586, making it Santiago's oldest surviving colonial building. Its sturdy walls have weathered some powerful earthquakes, although the current clock tower, finished in 1857, is the fourth. There is an attached colonial art museum.

On the main altar look for the carving of the Virgen del Socorro (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), which Santiago's founder Pedro de Valdivia brought to Chile on his 1540 conquistador mission.