Main Attractions and Sights in La Paz

Four small interesting museums are clustered along Calle Jaen in La Paz’ picturesque colonial street. These can be all covered in one trip. Tickets can be secured at Museo Costumbrista.

The Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) and the Museo de Metales Preciosos hosts these four impressively presented chambers of pre-Columbian silver, copper pieces from Tiwanaku and gold metals. TheMuseo de la Guerra del Pacifico incorporated artefacts from 1884 war when Bolivia lost war against Chile. The defeat in the war resulted in Bolivia being land-locked in the region.

Another museum that contains artwork and photos is the Museo Costumbrista Juan de Vargas. Collections here include ceramic figures of old La Paz. The akulliko – hour of coca-chewing and the local festivities including the Día de San Juan Bautista are depicted. Some colonial artefacts and figures dressed traditionally can be seen here.

Tourists love viewing La Paz from the top of Tupac Katari Mirador. Taxis offer transport to the observation deck or high point which is situated adjacent to the rim that dips down to the La Paz valley. It is believed to be a sacred site where Tupac Katari is presumed to have been drawn and arrested by colonialists. Despite colonialists constructing a statute of Jesus Christon this site, the locals continue to throng this area to perform spiritual rituals. Far away from the deck can be seen blue bunkers that house curanderos or yatiris whose counsel are valuable and uncontested.

For the religious, this stone Basilica of San Francisco situated on the San Francisco plaza was founded in 1548 by Fray Francisco de los Angeles. A reconstructed building now serves as the church and its ornate decorations are gorgeous. The stone faces on the rock pillars represent the Bolivia’s three honourable cultures namely, Tiwanaku, Inca and Modern. As a popular public spot, the plaza and the area around the church is a gathering place and therefore, witnesses numerous protests and rallies. Vendors in the ‘witches’ market’ also known as the Mercado de las Brujas or Mercado de Hechiceria between Santa Cruz and Sagarnaga sell soapstone figurines, Ilama foetuses, dried frogs and aphrodisiacs for use in Aymara rituals.

Outside the city
Traveling outside La Paz for about 40 minutes takes you to the lunar landscape comprising of eroded cliffs known as the popular Valle de La Luna. This valley also houses ‘The Cactario’ which is a rich terrace cactus garden and offers a great glimpse. Adjoining this town is Mallasa, a natural area filled with restaurants, cafes and hotels. There is also a zoo nearby located off Rio Abajo.

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