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Situated in Bolivia’s rolling valleys, the constitutional capital of Sucre enjoys a spring-like climate and laidback vibe. The white city’s beautifully restored center, with whitewashed walls and red roofs, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains grand colonial buildings and churches and feels like a piece of living history. The third oldest university in South America was founded here, and Bolivia’s drive for independence began here in the early 19th century.
On top of its historic buildings, Sucre has some great museums hidden among its cobbled streets, including the excellent ASUR museum of indigenous art, which documents the important local custom of weaving. In fact, the valleys surrounding Sucre are full of traditional weaving communities, whose way of life hasn’t changed in years. Treks in the unique landscape of nearby Cordillera de los Frailes can bring you in contact with these communities, where you can learn about local customs. The Sunday market at Tarabuco is where many locals come to sell their wares and has become a popular tourist spot.
Other popular tourist attractions include the dinosaur prints at Cal Orck’o, the elegant 19th century cemetery, the Glorieta Palace, the cave paintings at Incamachay and Pumamachay and horseback or mountain bike trips in the surrounding countryside.
Sucrenses spend their free time wandering around the parks and plaza, such as Parque Simón Bolívar and Plaza 25 de Mayo. The city has some excellent eateries and the whole city comes out to sit in the restaurants’ garden terraces on a Sunday. Sucre is now well connected to the rest of Bolivia and can be reached by road or air from major towns and cities around the country. It’s situated in the centre of the country, 740 kilometers southeast of La Paz and just over 600 kilometers southwest of Santa Cruz
The city was founded under the name La Plata by Pedro de Anzures in 1538, although the area was known as Charcas before the building of the colonial city. Due to its proximity to the silver spoils in nearby Potosí, the city rapidly grew in importance and in 1559 was declared the seat of the Audiencia de Charcas by the king of Spain, Phillip II. The Audiencia de Charcas was part of the Viceroyalty de Peru and incorporated an area including northern Chile and Argentina, Paraguay, some parts of Peru and most of modern day Bolivia.
The University of San Xavier was founded in 1624, making it not only one of the first Universities in South America, but the whole world. The city gradually became a centre of liberal thinking, and many of the leaders of the Latin American revolutions of the early 19th century studied Law in the city – which by this time was now known as Chuquisaca. In fact, it is believed that the first rumblings of Latin American independence began in the city – with the ringing of the liberty bell in 1809.
After a failed uprising in the same year, Bolivia finally gained independence on the 6th August 1825. The city of Chuquisaca was later renamed Sucre, after the revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre. These frequent name changes have earned the city the moniker ‘The city of four names’. Sucre was made capital of Bolivia in 1839, only to lose the legislative and executive branches to La Paz at the end of the 19th century.
Modern day Sucre has remained pivotal in Bolivian politics. In 2006 the city was chosen to host the constituent assembly, a committee elected to rewrite the Bolivian constitution. Proceedings were suspended in August 2007 when there were large demonstrations by protesters demanding the relocation of the legislative and executive branches of government to Sucre, to make Sucre Bolivia’s lone capital city. They did not win that battle, but passionate Sucrenses stand up for their beliefs and are proud of their city. With a mix of lifestyles from both the east and west of the country, Sucre lies at both the geographical and spiritual heart of Bolivia.
Neighborhoods in Sucre: Town Center, Recoleta,
Other places nearby Sucre: Potosí, Tarapaya, Tarabuco, Around Cochabamba, Quillacolo, Cochabamba, Parque Nacional Torotoro and Cordillera de los Frailes.
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