La Paz is the highest national capital in the world, clinging on to the side of the Andes at a height of 4km above sea level. La Paz is a lively city of over 1 million inhabitants and is the administrative capital of Bolivia. The city’s altitude ranges from 3.3km to 4.3km above sea level and the different zones offer a different experience of La Paz including its climate, society, nightlife, historical buildings and even its culture.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN LA PAZ
- Plaza Murillo is a very popular tourist destination containing many governmental buildings including the city’s Cathedral (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz) which was built in 1835 and also the Presidential Palace, also known as Palacio Quemado (the Burnt Palace) due to the number of fires it has endured in the past; now the official residence of the president. Plaza Murillo is named after Pedro Domingo Murillo who was hanged there after an unsuccessful revolt against Spanish rule.
- La Paz is rich in history and the best place to experience it is within the many museums that are found throughout the city. Museum San Francisco located on Plaza San Francisco is a must for all fans of colonial art and artefacts. The Museum of Contemporary Art permanent collection exhibits many works by renowned painter Mamani Mamani and the National Museum of Archaeology contains a collection of artefacts from the Tiahuanacu culture. The Coca Museum on Calle Linares is a popular destination for tourists offering a glimpse into the history of the coca plant and its significance on the US War on Drugs while the Gold Museum displays pre-conquest works of precious metals including gold and silver.
- Two fascinating places to visit while you are here include Tiahuanaco and Lake Titicaca. Tiahuanaco is the pre-Inca archaeological ruins of a city built by the Tiahuancu people over 1000 years ago. Tiahuanaco contains monolithic statues including the Gate of the Sun where the sun rises exactly in the middle of the door on the first day of spring. Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world and the largest in South America. Its crystal clear waters and the beauty of the surroundings are now protected by the Titicaca Reserve which was created in 1978.
EATING OUT & NIGHTLIFE IN LA PAZ
The are many places to eat in La Paz from traditional Bolivian to Mexican and fast food outlets, however, seafood dishes are popular and many menus will offer a good choice including clams cooked in their shells, fish tacos and lobster. Good deals can typically be found with Meal of the Day options from bars and restaurants that include a starter, main and desert. A typical menu might include picante de pollo (spicy chicken), chuletas de cerdo con salsa pimiento (pork chops in a pepper sauce) and cocadas (coconut macaroons).
GETTING AROUND IN LA PAZ
La Paz is huge with many winding and narrow streets so it is easy to get lost. If in doubt, it is a good idea to walk downhill until you reach a main street or square to get your bearings. The city offers small buses and shared taxis to get around town with routes indicated on windshields and fares paid on the bus. The buses can be hailed anywhere just wave and shout Voy a bajar!
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