The cities of Sucre and Potosi are located in south central area of Bolivia and offer a wonderful glimpse into the colonial past of the country.
Both have played extremely important roles in the history of Bolivia with Sucre being the place where independence from Spain was declared and the official capital of the country whilst Potosi was responsible for providing huge amounts of silver to the spanish rulers.
The mines of Potosi were responsible for most of the silver that Spain aquired during the expansion of their New World Empire and this wealth was both used to consolidate their power across the continent and also sent back to Spain to enrich the Royal crown.
Sucre is famed for its wonderful spring like climate and numerous white colonial buildings whilst Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world at an altitude of 4090 meters (13429 feet).
The two cities are just a few hours apart but have a very different vibe with Sucre having a more European feel and Potosi, regardless of its opulent past, is now one of Bolivias poorer cities with a largely indigenous population still dependment mostly on mining.
Both cities make for an interesting visit and have some unique offerings for the traveler.
Sucre is the capital city of Bolivia and is home to the Supreme Court (although La Paz is the de facto capital and seat of government) and it is located in the valley region of southern Bolivia.
Its well-preserved colonial buildings have been declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage and just walking round the streets feel like walking around a living museum of spanish colonial history.
A visit to Sucre is highly recommended during your trip to Bolivia and it is very well connected to other popular destinations such as La Paz, Potosi, Santa Cruz and Uyuni so can be easy to fit into an itinerary.
We offer a Sucre city tour that allows you to discover the best this city has to offer in a short time.
See full details of our Sucre City Tour
It is easy to spend several days in Sucre just hanging around in the shady plazas and parks but equally there is plenty of things of interest to occupy yourself.
Here are some of our suggestions you could fit into a trip to the white city
Potosí is located in south-eastern Bolivia at a height of 4090 m above sea level. It is considered the highest city in the world and is a unique destination with a unique story.
Due to its favorable location at the foot of the Cerro Rico (''rich mountain''), during the period of the New Spanish Empire ,Potosí was supplying an incredible quantity of silver and other minerals to the Spanish Crown, and was location of the Spanish national mint for a long time.
The mines of Cerro Rico had already producted over 150,000 tons of silver for the spanish by the end of the 18th century making it the most productive silver mine in history.
Now many years later the mountain has lost its original shape and must resemble a shadow of its former self.In recent years there have been concerns there are so many mine shafts inside that the structural integrity of the mountain is comprimised with several studies being made on how it might be stabilised.
Mining is still the most important industry in the area although and many of the mines are owned by mining co-operatives which at least means that more of the profits can directly benefit the local workers.
The life of a miner can be tough though as conditions inside the mines are not modern and mean exposure to many dangers both immediate from tunnel collapses or long term from the all too common health afflictions.
For those interested in learning more about Cerro Rico and the modern day life of the miners it is possible to take a tour that visits a mine, meets some of the miners and teaches your about their life, superstitcions and the workings of the mine.
It is both an interesting and sometimes shocking experience for some, with children as young as 10 years old sometimes working in the mines
Some of the profits from the tours actually go towards the miners themselves andtourists are encouraged to bring gifts of coca leaves, cigarettes or mining supplies to give to the miners which are greatly appreciated.
See full details of our Potosi Mines Tour
There is an interesting documentary film called "The Devils Miner" that follows the life of a 14 year miner that works in Cerro Rico that is well worth a watch. You can find the dvd to buy online and also in store in Bolivia.
You can see the trailer of the film here
CASA DE MONEDA
During colonial times , due to the sheer volume of silver being mined in the area, it made sense to the spanish to construct a royal mint to produce coins right in Potosi.
The building now operates as a museum and it provides a fasinating glimpse into the past glory of the city and the spanish empire.
Occupying an entire block, the building is well fortified as to be expected and must be visited as part of a guided tour. Spanish language tours depart regulary but if you want English guided tour then you should check in advance the availability and times as they generally run 4 times per day
Sucre is the capital city of Bolivia and is known as The White City due to the predominant colour of its extremely well-preserved colonial buildings. Here is where Bolivia was founded. Sucre is also home to the best chocolate factories and to the site with the highest amount of dinosaur's footprints in the world. It has been part of the UNESCO heritage ever since 1991. Pickup from your accommodation is included.
Catch a direct flight from Sucre to La Paz, the fastest and most comfortable way avoiding a 12 hours bus ride. This flight is operated by BoA Airlines (Boliviana de Aviación). Flight schedules change from day to day but as a general guide there are four flights per day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon.
This half day tour to the mines in Potosí gives you the unique opportunity to witness the miners' way of living in the world's highest city. The Cerro Rico (''rich mountain'') of Potosí was famous for providing large quantities of silver and other precious minerals for Spain during colonial times. Due to this strong exploitation and harsh climate Potosí is now one of the poorest cities of Bolivia and by taking this tour you are supporting the local economy.
Catch a direct flight from Sucre to Santa Cruz, the fastest and most comfortable way avoiding a 12 hours bus ride. This flight is operated by BoA Airlines (Boliviana de Aviación). Flight schedules change from day to day but as a general guide there are four flights per day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon.