We Visit Potosí, The Silver City Of Bolivia

Located in the south of Bolivia, the city of Potosí extends on the slopes of the so-called Cerro Rico. Silver is still being extracted from it.
We visit Potosí, the silver city of Bolivia

The city of Potosí is, perhaps, one of the most famous in Bolivia. Its silver mine made it for centuries the most precious treasure that the Spanish Crown had on the other side of the world. Not surprisingly, there is a famous phrase, “worth a potosí”, which we still use when we want to show how valuable something is.

Its beauty, as well as the importance it has had for the history of the world, caused it to be declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1987. Let’s discover its charms.

Brief history of Potosí

Potosí Mine
Potosí Mine

The territory of Potosí has ​​millennia of occupation. Although, the most significant periods that can be highlighted are the arrivals of the Inca Empire and the Spanish Crown. Precisely, it will be at this time when it merges as a city, specifically, with Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany.

Although Potosí was created as a mining settlement , its growth was very fast and in a few years there were many houses built and settled Spaniards. Thus, it went from being a dry and rugged area to a rich and opulent city that in 1561 began to be called Villa Imperial de Potosí.

What to visit in the city of Potosí

The city of Potosí is located within the Andean baroque route for the wonders that it houses of this style. Although, there are many more monuments that you cannot miss. We recommend that you visit the following, you will not regret it.

Church of the Society of Jesus

Tower of the church of the Company
Tower of the Church of the Company / Mariano Mantel Flick.com

It is one of the main samples of Andean baroque that can be found in the city of Potosí. It is characteristic for its great miscegenation, as it has European architectural elements and decoration with Christian and Andean imagery.

Potosí Mint

Potosí Mint
Courtyard of the Mint

Next to the church we can find the Casa de la Moneda. Today it is a Museum and Historical Archive. Its foundation took place in 1572 by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo. It was a minting center that ended up replacing the Lima Mint.

However, the building that we can visit today is later. It is an impressive building of almost 8000 . Its five imposing courtyards stand out, although the main one stands out. This is because it has a mask of the smiling god Bacchus. The gossips say that he laughs at the Spaniards in their retreat from the city.

The church of San Lorenzo de Carangas

Façade of the church of San Lorenzo
Church doorway – Dan Lundberg / Wikimedia Commons

It seems that it was one of the first to be built in the city of Potosí. It was built in 1548, years before the city was declared a town. Its beautiful mestizo baroque style cover stands out. Look at its imposing Solomonic columns crowned by two female mermaid figures. When the current cathedral was built it became a parish of Indians.

The cathedral basilica of Our Lady of Peace

Potosí Cathedral
Cathedral

Located in the main square of the city, it dates from the 19th century. It was carried out due to the intermediation of the Spanish friar and architect Manuel Sanahuya, on the site of the old cathedral. With it the neoclassical style is introduced in the city. Inside it preserves the best examples of religious relics made with precious metals.

The San Antonio de Padua Museum

It is in a convent founded in 1547 by Fray Gaspar de Valverde. It is believed that it was the first church to be built in Potosí and it preserves the oldest cloister in Bolivia. In addition, inside is the image of the Christ of the Vera Cruz. It is a crucified with indigenous features that was made in 1550 and is considered, like the cloister, the oldest image in Bolivia.

The convent also has an excellent collection of colonial paintings. It also has an impressive viewpoint from which to observe the entire city of Potosí.

The monastery of the Discalced Carmelites

It was built under the dedication of San José. It was founded in 1685 and today it is the headquarters of the Santa Teresa Museum. Thanks to its impressive art collection, it is considered one of the best sacred art museums in all of Latin America.

4 cities in Bolivia that you should know

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