La Paz

City of contrasts and records

Categories: La Paz Bolivia

La Paz, the capital of Bolivia high up in the Andes is probably one of the most remarkable cities of South America. Because the capital of Bolivia not only takes the traveller into the ancient empire and the mysterious culture of the Incas, but also offers South America from its modern side.
La Paz - Plaza Murillo the main square of La Paz© diegograndi / Fotolia

Already the arrival offers a record: with a height of 4.200 metres, the airport of La Paz is the highest located civil airport of the world. This is noticeable in the form of a more than five-kilometre-long runway, as in the thin high-altitude air, the planes need much longer distances to take off or brake.

Here - at the height of the highest Alpine peaks - a new district of La Paz is located on a large plateau called the Altiplano next to the airport. To get to the centre and the historic old town you have to go down 1,000 metres in altitude - that is the next record. Because in no other city of the world, the differences in altitude between the different city districts are so big.

Inca culture, Spanish old town and skyscrapers
Far below the Altiplano plateau, the centre of La Paz with the seat of government, financial centre and the historic old town is located in the valley basin. The heart of the city is the Paseo del Prado - or Prado for short - a promenade about two kilometres long. It also divides the city into two halves: The indigenous quarter on the left and the modern Spanish quarter on the right.

In the indigenous quarter, one can stroll for hours between thousands of market stalls where the indigenous population offers their goods but also delicious food. Innumerable churches witness the deep faith of the population.

But in the course of the centuries, the catholic has mixed with old inca customs. Also the old Spanish colonial houses that are arranged around the Plaza de San Francisco are worth seeing. There are enormous contrasts that come to light here, but also the fascination of an ancient high culture that once settled this region. Their remains can be seen in numerous museums in the city.

Trips to the surroundings
One could stroll through La Paz for days and will not have discovered everything yet, but also the further surroundings offer numerous sightseeings and attractions. In the north-east there is the legendary Lake Titicaca, in the south the Atacama Desert extends up to Chile.
La Paz - Skyline of La Paz in the evening light© mariana_designer / Fotolia

The more daring will take a trip to the Cordilleras with their snow-covered peaks of up to 6,500 metres or perhaps even climb them. And of course there is also the opportunity to discover the land and the life of the indigenous population in the numerous mountain villages.

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