Pirque is a fertile and cultivated land, protected by the mountains of the Precordillera along its eastern, southern, and western borders. The Maipo Rivers serves as its northern boundary, separating it from the city of Santiago; the Clarillo River crosses its lands along its southern border. Pirque is a final destination; you don’t pass through Pirque on your way elsewhere. This transforms it into a protected, almost isolated place that has preserved its rural traditions and lifestyle, peaceful and picturesque.
The beginnings of Pirque date back to the pre-Colombian period when native Picunches inhabited the area. In the XVI century, the valley was divided between the “merced” (concession) of Don Alonso de Córdova and the grant of Don Rodrigo de Quiroga, husband of Doña Inés de Suárez. When this marriage ended, Don Alonso purchased the grant from “Cacique” (Chief) Sebastián, and Pirque began to be called El Principal de Córdoba. In 1620, Córdova’s widow, Victoria Urbina, sold the property, and from that date onwards the property has changed hands several times.
This lead Pirque to a slow decay until it was purchased by Don José de Gana in 1764 who proceeded to rebuild its facilities. Don José died in 1786, and his Gana Darrigrandi children inherited the land. Their descendants, in turn, sold the property to Don Ramón Subercaseaux Mercado in 1830. Ramón Subercaseaux, who was just over 40 years old when he purchased the property, was a successful mining entrepreneur who built the most important project of the time in Pirque: the excavation of the Pirque Canal which, to this day, takes water from the Maipo River, distributing it throughout the valley. Thanks to this major project and other advances, Pirque was the third richest property in the Province of Santiago in 1854. Ramón Subercaseaux Mercado died in 1856, and in 1864, the Pirque Hacienda was divided in six among his children and wife: Magdalena Vicuña, who inherited Santa Rita, Manuela who inherited La Isla, Antonio who inherited El Cruceral, Doña Emiliana who inherited El Llano, Carmela who inherited San Juan, and his youngest son Francisco, who inherited Las Majadas when he was just 21 years old.
Francisco, a young and brilliant businessman and tireless traveler, would visit his mother’s house in Pirque as well as its tenant, Manuel Jesús Carvajal, who cultivated the famous “empastadas” (fields) of Las Majadas. He wanted to have a house on his land, but before that, he had a park planted on the gentle slopes at the foot of the canal that his father had built. Many years later he began construction of a small but elegant colonial house in the middle of the already mature trees. During one of these trips, in 1905, his sons, the Subercaseaux Browne, wanted to surprise him and had the Architect Alberto Cruz Montt build a new house for Las Majadas over part of the old construction. The park was given over to Landscape Architect Guillermo Renner, who redesigned it taking advantage of the existing trees and planting numerous other exotic species as was traditional during that period.
In 1907, and due to the saltpeter crises, Francisco Subercaseaux was forced to sell many of his properties to pay his debts, but he kept Las Majadas, leaving it to his wife when he died. The property remained in the family until 1928 when it was sold to Don Julio Nieto, a successful agriculturist from the Aconcagua Valley. At his death, his only son, José Julio Nieto-Espínola, inherited the property, beginning and empowering strong agricultural work in what is now known as the Las Majadas estate. Together with his wife, Elvira Varas Montt, Don José Julio turned Las Majadas into a home. This is where his children, Hortensia, Isabel, Luz, Elvira, Julio, and Antonio grew up, seeing how farm work and family life with their cousins blended with social receptions like the party to celebrate the transfer of power of President Don Gabriel González Videla, or to receive the Vice-President of the United States, Mr. Wallace, or Prince Bernard of Holland. Also memorable were the missions carried out in their chapel with the Capuchin Fathers where hundreds of people would congregate each summer.
After the death of Don José Julio Nieto in 1972, the property was divided among his children, with the house passing to Doña Elvira Varas who brought her family together in Las Majadas every summer. When Doña Elvira Varas de Nieto died in 1987, her descendants took over the property. They opened the park to the community for successful and anticipated concerts by the Rosita Renard Foundation, and also developed a real estate property project that attracted new neighbors around the heart of Pirque.
It was in 2006 when a young Argentinean businessman, Wenceslao Casares, got to know the park and the house and fell in love with it, purchasing it to make it his home. Business made Wenceslao finally settle down in Palo Alto, California, and Las Majadas remained waiting for a noble destiny.
In 2010, Wenceslao and his friend Pablo Bosch, a Chilean businessman, partnered together to make Las Majadas the first place in Latin America for the development of bridges between different people with common objectives, bridges between people based on trust and reciprocity, a true factory of human networks; what Philosopher Francis Fukuyama defined as social capital.
Look at the reconstruction and rescue process of the Las Majadas de Pirque palace here.