Finally.... La Paz!!!
La Paz Travel Blog› entry 11 of 25 › view all entries
After an 8 Hour Bus drive from hell that was supposed to be a 12 hour bus drive we finally arrived in La Paz. Our tour guide was supposed to pick us up, but no one appeared. We hired taxis and check-in to the Radisson Hotel. I was so sick that I had to call a doctor who gave me some medication for my stomach. We left our hotel at around 13:00 to start our visit of the city.
La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of La Paz Department. As of the 2001 census, the city of La Paz had a population of around one million, and together with neighbouring cities of El Alto and Viacha make the biggest urban area of Bolivia, with a population of around 1.6 million inhabitants. Founded in 1548 by Alonso de Mendoza at the site of the Native American settlement called Chuquiago, the full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz. The name commemorated the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors four years earlier against Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru. In 1825, after the decisive victory of the republicans at Ayacucho over the Spanish army in the course of the South American Wars of Independence, the city's full name was changed to La Paz de Ayacucho.
La Paz was built in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River, which runs northwest to southeast. The city's main thoroughfare, which roughly follows the river, changes names over its length, but the central tree-lined section running through the downtown core is called the Prado.
La Paz' geography (in particular, altitude) reflects society: the lower you go, the more affluent. While many middle-class paceños live in high-rise condos near the center, the really rich houses are located in the lower neighborhoods southwest of the Prado. The reason for this division is that the lower you go in the city, the more oxygen there is in the air and the milder the weather is. And looking up from the center, the surrounding hills are plastered with makeshift brick houses of those struggling in the hope of one day reaching the bottom. The satellite city of El Alto, in which the airport is located, is spread over a broad area to the west of the canyon, on the altiplano.
In 1898, La Paz was made the de facto seat of the national government, with Sucre remaining the nominal historical as well as judiciary capital. This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the largely exhausted silver mines of Potosí of tin near Oruro, and resulting shifts in the distribution of economic and political power among various national elites.
After lunch we walked up La Paz’s mais avenue all the way up to the the san Francisco Museum in Plaza San Francisco and Witches’ Market where we had the opportunity to see vendors selling llama foetuses and dried frogs for Aymara rituals, as well as soapstone figurines and aphrodisiac formulas. We continued to the Plaza Murillo which contains the government buildings and the city cathedral and were astonished to see thousands of doves.
We returned to the Hotel and had a fabulous dinner on the last floor. The view was spectacular! The lights looked like stars sparkling along La Paz’s crater.