La Ciudad de los cuatro Nombres
Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, counts 300.000 inhabitants and is located a bit southern from the center of Bolivia on an altitude of 2.810m. The city was founded in 1538 under the name Villa de la Plata by the Spanish conquerors, because of the huge silver resources in the surrounding mountains. Before the settlement was called Charcas, named by the indigenous community and after the independence of Bolivia it got renamed in Chuquisaca. Right now it is called Sucre in honor to the freedom fighter and 2nd. president Antonio Jose de Sucre, who fought together with Simon Bolivar against the spanish occupants. Because of that Sucre has the nickname La Ciudad de los cuatro Nombres (The city of four names).
The city is very beautiful, and the center with its mostly white buildings from the 18th. and 19th. century is declared as UNESCO world heritage since 1991 and definitely worth are seeing. Normally Sucre doesn't have a change of seasons, with a very mild climate between 15 and 20 degrees, it is the perfect place to visit all year long. It is also famous for studying Spanish, since the Castellano of Bolivia is very clear and almost without any accent. Lots of people visit Sucre every year to study in one of the plenty language schools all over the city center. Even with a lot of attractions, restaurants, bars, nice parks and souvenir shops as well as very low prices, it is not that overrun by tourists.
To the contrary, it is a very cultural place with inhabitants who really care about their rights and traditions. If you roam around Sucre’s streets, one of the first things you will recognize are the plenty street venders and markets in every place. The people of Sucre tend to spend a lot of time outside, working or shopping at the markets, eating or just relaxing in one of the beautiful parks until late night. The majority (especially women) are still wearing the traditional costume, which is usually a colorful skirt, a plain vest possibly combined with a poncho and a bowler hat, often they use a huge colorful cloth as a backpack to carry things around. Another really typical and traditional thing for Bolivians is chewing coca. The bitter, green plant is great against the altitude sickness and provides you with lots of energy during the day. You can find coca at all the markets, just give it a try if you pass by. You need around a hand full of coca, take them leave by leave, remove the branch with your teeth and store them in your cheek. After some time of chewing you will recognize a huge ball in your cheek accompanied by a slight feeling of deafness. And yes it really helps with the altitude, already after some minutes you can breathe free and your sickness is gone.
So what to see in Sucre after all? One thing, as already mentioned are Sucre’s markets. This time I’m not talking about the central market, which is also nice but if you want to see some really interesting things better go to Mercado Campesino (the farmers market). It´s a little outside of the center but one of the plenty micros (shared minibuses) will bring you there for around 1,5Bs. (20cents) It is more than just a market, it seems to be more like huge district full of vendors and stalls, on an average day more than 20.000 people trying to make their business there. It´s not that touristic and because of that the prices are lower, a full lunch for example will be between 5 and 10Bs. (0,60€ and 1,30€), half a liter of fresh pressed juice or fruit cocktail just 2Bs. (30cents) and don't forget to negotiate for a better price, it kind of belongs to the buying process. Beside food you can find everything over there from household supply over construction machinery to really weird stuff like dead llama fetuses for sacrifices and spices and herbs for witchcrafts. Another great place to visit is La Recoleta, a Franciscan monastery on a hill at the border of Sucre. From its huge square you can enjoy the awesome view all over the city. Behind a square you will see the two mountains Sika Sika and Churuquella. The indigenous legend says, that the two mountains are a couple which is supposed to take care of the city and its inhabitants. For the cultural part of your trip we can recommend the masks museum as well as the indigenous art museum. Both with interesting discoveries from bygone times and a lot of input about Bolivia’s history before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors.
Accommodation in Sucre is like everything quiet cheap. A bed in a hostel dormitory starts with 30Bs. (4,20€), a private room for two is available from 70Bs (10€). If you're used to a certain standard it might be better to check in a hotel which is unessential more expensive. The hostels or alojamientos (shelter) are on a very low standard compared to other countries in South America. Usually you won’t have lockers or possibility to store your things, old uncomfortable beds, dirty toilets and the worst thing are the electric showers, which barely provide lukewarm water (if they work at all). Apropos electronic showers, you should be really aware of them during our two weeks in Bolivia I got electroshocked three times by them.
Sucre as well as the rest of Bolivia has a lot of culinary specialties to offer. Starting with its tropical fruits on the local markets, you should definitely try Chirimoya, as well as their Mangos, passion fruits and so on. Beside that Sucre is famous for its chocolate production. In the streets of the center you can find several small shops who are offering their homemade chocolate variations. Other things which you should try:
- Chambers - a huge piece of fried dough with honey
- Papas Rellenas - a ball of fried mashed potatoes filled with meat, eggs or cheese.
- Mocochinchi - a Bolivian drink made from peaches that have been peeled, dried and left overnight in water. Subsequently boiled with sugar, cinnamon and served cold. It is quiet close to Mote con Huesillos from Chile.
- Chicha - an alcoholic beverage made from Corn. Typical for Bolivia and Peru. Make sure that you spill a bit of it to share with Pacha Mama (mother earth) before you drink.
Leave a comment
Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.