La Paz, Bolivia Travel Guide

A carnival of cavalcades of vendors, street marches, diesel-spewing minivans, honking and jostling pedestrians, La Paz surrounds you: you will love it, you will hate it, but it can’t be ignored. Here are the top attractions in La Paz, Bolivia.

Mercado de las Brujas

La Paz’s most unusual market lies along Linares and Calles Jimenez between Av Mariscal Santa Cruz and Sagarnaga, amid lively tourist stores. What is on sale is not witchcraft as depicted in many horror films; the merchandise is folk and herbal remedies. Here, you will find ingredients like toucan beaks, meant to cure illnesses and protect devotees from bad spirits. If you are building a new house, you can purchase a llama fetus to bury under the cornerstone as an offering (cha’lla) to Mother Earth (Pachamama). If you are being pestered or feeling ill you can buy a plateful of assorted critter parts, seeds, and colorful herbs to solve the problem. Photographs and inquiries in this market can be met with hostility, so ask politely.

Iglesia de San Francisco

The Iglesia de San Francisco was founded by Fray Francisco de Los in 1548. The original building collapsed around 1610 under heavy snowfall, but it was reconstructed in 1772. The new structure is made of stone quarried from the Viacha nearby. The building is decorated with natural themes carvings such as tropical birds, pine cones, and custard apples. The mass of stone faces and rock pillars in the Plaza San Francisco upper portion is meant to represent three great cultures of Bolivia – Aymara, Inca, and Tiwanaku. As one of the focal points of the city, the plaza is sometimes the staging ground for protests and rallies.

Tupac Katari Mirador

For a breathtaking view of the city, head to the Tupac Katari Mirador. It is a ritual altar and sacred Inca site where Tupac Katari was believed to have been quartered and drawn by colonialists. The colonialists interred and constructed a statue of Jesus Christ on the site but that did not stop the locals from performing their spiritual rituals here.

Museo Nacional del Arte

The Museo Nacional del Arte is a colonial building constructed of pink sandstone. It has been restored to its original glory, in Andino baroque and mixed baroque styles. Here, you will find a lovely alabaster fountain in a huge courtyard center surrounded by 3 stories of pillared corridors. Highlights include artworks by Marina Nunez del Prado, a La Paz native.