When I first visited South America around 15 years ago, I literally fell in love with Sucre in Bolivia. Its beautiful colonial buildings with their white-washed facades, its parks and its green squares, and the general vibe of its streets struck me so much that I went as far as to look for a job there; which I didn’t find, and I went back to Europe with the head full of white pictures.

The history of Sucre, the capital of Bolivia

The city of Sucre has gone through various names and nicknames but only one status; it is, even to this day, the official capital of Bolivia.

The story is long and full of twists, so I’ll make it short. The liberals were very unhappy with the long-lasting conservative government, so they did a coup d’état in 1899. That lead to a short but bloody war.

After winning the war, the liberals moved the executive and legislative powers to La Paz. For some reason, they never changed the Constitution in that respect so Sucre is still the country’s constitutional capital.

Read more: La Paz is also a cool city, with a completely different flair

Everywhere in South America you will read that towns were created in the 16th century by some Conquistador or another; but most of the time there was already an indigenous dwelling in the very same spot.

In the example of Sucre, the Charcas people lived in a settlement they called Choquechaca (also spelt ‘Chuquisaca’). That was until the Spaniards came and “founded” in 1538 the “Villa de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo”; or simply “La Plata” for friends and family.

After the war of independence, when the Republic was established in 1825, the town took the name of one of the Libertadores, the general Antonio de Sucre, who was a very sweet man (pun for French speakers). Sucre is also the birthplace of famous Independence heroine Juana Azurduy.

Read more about Juana Azurduy

Sucre is also known as ‘la Ilustre’ for being the place where the Republic of Bolivia was officially created, where the national Constitution was written, and probably where the Latin American independence movement started in 1809.

It is also called ‘la Culta’ for hosting one of the first universities in the Americas, since 1623.

Sucre bolivia recoleta square
La Recoleta square

Why to visit Sucre in Bolivia?

But first and foremost it is ‘la Ciudad Blanca’, for many travellers at least who softly stroll its white colonial streets –a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991– far from the chaos of big La Paz or the sickening altitude of Potosi.

When in Sucre, don’t miss the stunning view from the roof of the church of la Merced (between 10:00-12:00 and 14:30-16:30 -opposite San Felipe Neri), and the one from Recoleta.

Fans of big (dead) lizards should visit the nearby Cal Orcko, a paleontological park with an impressive 5.000 dinosaurs footprints.

Sucre bolivia many viewpoints
One of many viewpoints in Sucre

Do you often take pictures of historical buildings? Where in the world is your favourite building? Share your story in the comments!


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Who am I?

Anthony fell in love with the world, and more particularly with South America. He wants to offer inspirational guides to the curious backpacker, travel stories to the online generation, and incentives for a more responsible and greener way-of-travel for everyone.

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