Sucre and Potosi
Two completely contrasting cities, Sucre and Potosi make for worthwhile stops when heading to the south of Bolivia. Sucre is one of the country's most beautiful cities, with many of the hotels converted from colonial mansions and white-washed walls glimmering in the sun. Potosi on the other hand is a charming mining town, the skyline dominated by the impressive silver mine- still in use today.
Potosi is the highest city of its size in the world, standing at 4070 metres. It was founded by the Spaniards in 1545 after they had discovered Indian silver mine workings at Cerro Rico, which dominates the city. Nowadays silver, copper and lead are still mined and visits can be made into the mines, a fascinating way to gain an insight into the difficult working conditions and the hardships of life as a miner. The town has narrow twisting streets and over 2000 colonial buildings have been catalogued here.
Sucre is otherwise known as the White City of the Americas, and is one Bolivia's most beautiful cities. There are fine examples of architecture, with many whitewashed buildings, and beautifully restored churches and monasteries. Nearby Tarabuco has a very colourful and unique Indian market on Sundays, which is well worth a visit. The market attracts peasants from the region, who are famous for their Conquistador style leather helmets and multicoloured hand woven ponchos and chuspas (bags for carrying coca leaves and money).
There are some great museums to see while here, including a really interesting textiles museum. This is a town in which to wander through the narrow streets, pop in and see all the ornate churches which are peppered throughout the town.
Sucre has a lower altitude, enjoys a more pleasant climate (though still be sure to give a visit in the wet season from November to March a miss) and can be explored by foot in the main. Some of the town’s best hotels are in converted colonial mansions.
It is number one on the map for those in search of religious and colonial architecture. Also, rather excitingly, recently dinosaur tracks have been uncovered.