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Our Final Images from Potosí

- Rich Potosí

Miner Monument Potosi

We expected to have an incredible time in Potosí, and the highest city in the world didn’t disappoint. Potosí has a rich history, still evident in its plentiful churches, but today is awash in poverty. The massive Cerro Rico casts a shadow both literally and figuratively over the city; the deaths of millions of indigenous workers has left a wound in Potosí’s psyche which will never scab over. Here are our final visual impressions of this amazing city.

Mirador Potosi
Weird Jesus
Twoer Church
Struppi Bus
Street Vendor
Sleepy Town
San Lorenzo Potosi
Lorenzo Potosi
Pyramides Potosi
Potosi Futbol
Potosi Statue
Potosi Detail
Potosi Circle
Potosi Bebida
Monument Potosi
Iglesai Cochabamba
Growing Hair Jesus
Death Potosi
Evilt Potosi
Gate Potosi
Flowers Potosi
Donkey Train
Dog
Cute Fashion Dog
Cerveza Bock
Cute Baby
Casa Moneda
Casa 3 Puertas Portosi
Bolivian Boy Group
Army Bolivia
Baby Sheep Carriage
Potosi
San Francisco Potosi
Storm Potosi
Spooky Church
Sol Potosi
Telegrafico Potosi
Wired
Potosi Blog
Bye Bye Potosi

- Hostels in Potosí

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June 10, 2011 at 8:46 pm Comments (2)

The Casa de la Moneda in Potosí

Heralded as Bolivia’s best museum, the Casa de la Moneda offers a fascinating look back at a time when Potosí was the center of the Spanish Empire’s wealth. This mammoth building in the center of the city was the Royal Mint, pressing silver extracted from the Cerro Rico into coins and medallions.

Face of Potosi

Construction on the baroque-style building began in 1759, and the mint remained in operation until 1951, when Bolivia decided it was cheaper to import coins from Chile. Considering how long it’s been around, the Casa de la Moneda has held up wonderfully. It looks almost new, which is astounding since it’s never been renovated. Our guide explained that the altitude and the cold, dry air of Potosí does wonders for preservation.

Most Famous Painting Potosi

The tour through the museum took about two hours. We started with a collection of colonial-era paintings, with a special emphasis on the work of Cochabamba-born Melchor Pérez de Holguín, the most important indigenous painter of his day. He concentrated on religious works which were nominatively Catholic, but often incorporated elements of Quechuan faith. My favorite was a representation of the Virgin Mary, fused with the Cerro Rico — the mountain which provided Potosí with its silver. Native people worship pachamama, or the Earth, and by equating the land with the Virgin, Holguín was making a powerful syncretic statement. Church authorities might usually have declared such a vision heretical, but they turned a blind eye to Holguín’s work, since it helped the indigenous people adjust to Catholicism.

Plata Nativa

After the art, we entered a room dedicated to gruesome artifacts discovered in the region, such as grinning skulls, masturbating totems, and mummified children. Cool. Another room held an impressive collection of minerals from Bolivia and around the world. I stopped for awhile in front of a mesmerizing purple-yellow stone called Bolivianite — a semi-precious mineral found only in Bolivia.

The paintings and minerals were great, but the most interesting part of the tour was the old, original machinery used to press out ingots of silver into sheets, then cut them into coins. Huge wooden wheels, rotated by donkeys and African slaves, occupy an entire room. We saw the tools used to hammer out medallions by hand, as well as more modern steam- and electric-powered machinery.

Old Mint

It was an educational and absorbing way to spend a couple hours in Potosí, and Jürgen was overjoyed that, for a small extra fee, he could take pictures to his heart’s content. Enjoy our images of the museum and, if you get to Potosí, definitely make time for the Casa de la Moneda.

- Hostels in Potosí

Silver Handle
Sun Dial Potosi
Casa De La Moneda
Mint Potosi
Potosi Bell
Silver Train Potosi
1 Boliviano
Moneda Plata
Potosi Silver Coin
Melting Silver
Silver Cook
Church Treasure Chest
Mineral Collection
Cute Baby Sleeping
Inca
Mastubating Inca
LLama Plata
Silver Jesus
Steam Mint
Trekking Bolivia
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June 8, 2011 at 11:36 pm Comments (2)

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