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What to see in Bolivia

Potosi & Cerro Rico

Located 90 km southwest of Sucre, stands one of the highest cities in the world, standing 4050 metres above sea level in the shadow of Cerro Rico, a mountain full of thousands of mines.

The discovery of silver in 1545 precipitated the rapid growth of Potosí making it, in only three decades, into the largest city in the world. 22 lagoons or reservoirs produced the hydraulic energy to activate 140 mills that ground the silver, which was amalgamated with mercury in furnaces to be moulded. After the silver streaks were exhausted, the tin began to explode.

Around the Central Square, the streets, squares and buildings of colonial aspect are arranged on a grid layout, among which the Town Hall, the Police building, and the Church stand out. The Tower of the Company, a convent, is considered a symbol of the city.

The mansions, painted in beautiful colours and equipped with elegant latticed balconies, have become museums and remain a living reminder of the great splendour of the Spanish era that contrasts with the ranches of the native neighbourhoods.

A must visit in the city is the Central Market, a building in which you can find different stalls selling fruits, vegetables, meat and incense to offer to the gods.

Potosí was born as a mining centre and became an "imperial city". After the decline, the truth is that today mining is still the main occupation of its inhabitants and life revolves around the hill and its mines.

 

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