Potosi is a town that, at 4,000m, sits at the bottom of Cerro Rico. Those pesky Spanish colonialists discovered silver in the mountain, and since then it has brought the town riches. That was until the silver ran out, and the amount of money in the town plummeted.
The mountain is now mined for tin, and the biggest draw of Potosi is to do a mine tour, visiting the miners in their cramped, dark, asbestos-filled workplace.
1.) Tour San Francisco Church
The tour of the convent and church of San Francisco is interesting enough, but the pièce de resistancé is when they lead you out onto the rooftop for an amazing view of the whole of Potosi. The roof tiles were created by shaping them on the builder’s thighs, and you can still see the grooves where their fingers smoothed the clay.
2.) Potosi Mint
Originally, all the money in Bolivia was created here (it’s now outsourced to other countries – mostly in Europe), getting the silver from the mines in the mountain. The tour covers a variety of artwork held in the mint as well as the history of manufacture of Bolivian currency.
3.) Café de la Merced
Located behind the bells on top of this pretty colonial church, the cafe has great views across Potosi, as well as being a nice place for a sit down. The cafe is tiny, so be prepared to wait for a table.
Similar to the rest of Bolivia, Potosi has parades of schools through the streets. Potosi though, stops traffic and has wider streets so you can watch the procession, instead of getting in the way, and being pushed around a lot.
5.) The Cathedral and Plaza 10 de Noviembre
The square sits in the shadow of Potosi Cathedral, and is a lovely place to while away time in the sun. It’s also where people come to paint, sell things and make balloon animals. If you’re there just after the schools let out, you can watch some juvenile flirtation too.