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    South by South America Tour – Bolivia Part 11

    Friday, September 27, 2019
    Sucre, Bolivia

    Pole position in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Pole position in Sucre, Bolivia.

    On my first full day in Sucre, I just walked around the center of town, enjoying picturesque views at every turn. Passing through the main square, the Plaza de Mayo, I chanced upon a group of musicians playing traditional Bolivian pan pipes backed up with a guy playing a bass drum. Several onlookers were moved enough to start dancing and frolicking in a circle around them. How fun! This was all part of a little fair set up for rural Bolivians to sell their traditional weavings, clothing, souvenirs, etc. A few minutes later, a really long parade of school kids in uniforms passed by, complete with a marching band. Later, I joined a guy named Hoessein from Rotterdam, Holland up on the rooftop of the Templo de San Felipe Neri, where we watched an awesome sunset light up the gorgeous white paint of the church, as well as the Iglesia de Merced across the street.

    Musicians play traditional Bolivian pan pipes at the Plaza 25 de Mayo in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Musicians play traditional Bolivian pan pipes at the Plaza 25 de Mayo in Sucre, Bolivia.

    “Famed throughout Bolivia for its pretty, well-kept center, and for its agreeable climate, Sucre, ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ or ‘White City,’ is probably the most tranquil city in Bolivia, or perhaps South America. While it offers such attractions as historic buildings and renowned theater, plus indigenous culture and prehistoric sites in the surrounding towns and countryside, the highlight of Sucre might be its relaxed atmosphere, which detains many travellers for far longer than expected.

    People dance in a circle around musicians playing traditional Bolivian pan pipes at Plaza 25 de Mayo in Sucre, Bolivia.
    People dance in a circle around musicians playing traditional Bolivian pan pipes at Plaza 25 de Mayo in Sucre, Bolivia.

    “Sucre’s history has always been closely tied to that of Potosí. The city rose to prominence as an attractive retreat for wealthy and influential figures connected with Potosí’s silver mines. Although Sucre can be considered a ‘colonial’ city, its architecture is more an example of later neo-classical style. The dishevelled, crooked streets of Potosí better reflect the chaotic urban planning of early colonialism and the silver rush, while orderly, elegant Sucre is a result of the wealth later spawned by the silver trade. Sucre’s original name, Ciudad de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo (City of the Silver of New Toledo) reflects the huge significance silver played in the city’s development.

    The picturesque Plaza 25 de Mayo in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The picturesque Plaza 25 de Mayo in Sucre, Bolivia.

    The courtyard of the Templo de San Felipe Neri in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The courtyard of the Templo de San Felipe Neri in Sucre, Bolivia.

    “In the mid-16th century, the Spanish King Philip II established an audiencia in Sucre with a jurisdiction covering what was then known as Upper Peru, that is, the land south and east of Cusco and encompassing what is today Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Chile and Argentina. Although the Audiencia conferred a degree of autonomy on Sucre, it was still a subdivision of the Viceroyalty of Peru. In the early 17th century, Sucre grew, with the founding of a bishopric, as well as monasteries belonging to various religious orders. Today, Sucre is still a center for the Catholic church in Bolivia.

    The rooftop of the Templo de San Felipe Neri in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The rooftop of the Templo de San Felipe Neri in Sucre, Bolivia.

    “Sucre has long been known as a center for progressive thought, and in 1809 it was from here that one of the first independence movements in South America began. Despite this, Bolivia was one of the last South American countries to gain independence, in 1825. When independence was established in Bolivia, Sucre became the capital of the new nation. As the silver industry waned in importance, power shifted from Sucre to La Paz, and at the end of the 19th century, the seat of Bolivian government was moved to La Paz. Sucre remains the constitutional capital of Bolivia, but only the judicial branch of government is based here. This remains a contentious issue for Sucreños.

    The Iglesia de Merced in Sucre, Bolivia.
    The Iglesia de Merced in Sucre, Bolivia.

    “Sucre today has become a more conservative city, as the old wealth and power of the city is threatened by the Evo Morales government and its plans for reform and wealth redistribution. During the 2009 referendum, Sucre voted emphatically against Morales’ proposed new constitution. Morales remains a very unpopular figure in the city, and the city has suffered from sporadic outbursts of protest since his election in 2005, occasionally accompanied by racial violence against the poor indigenous and rural people who voted for him.”—Wikipedia

    Hoessein on the rooftop of the Templo de San Felipe Neri in Sucre, Bolivia.
    Hoessein on the rooftop of the Templo de San Felipe Neri in Sucre, Bolivia.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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