Historic Sites in Bolivia

Historic Sites in Bolivia

History Hit

24 Nov 2020

There’s a host of top Historic Sites in Bolivia to visit and among the very best are Tiwanaku, the Train Graveyard and San Vicente Museum.

We’ve put together an experts guide to Bolivian cultural attractions and monuments, with our top places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in Bolivia, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

What are the best Historic Sites in Bolivia?

Image Credit: huaidanphotography / Shutterstock

1. Tiwanaku

Tiwanaku is an impressive archaeological site housing the capital of pre-Inca empire. Much about Tiwanaku remains a mystery and the subject of ongoing academic debate.

The people of Tiwanaku built a magnificent city spanning approximately 2.3 square kilometres with monuments, temples, homes and public buildings. It was still flourishing in 900 AD, however by the time it was discovered by the Incas in the mid-fifteenth century, it was entirely abandoned, probably having declined in the twelfth century.

That which remains is incredible and has resulted in much excited speculation over the years. For example, the many carved heads on the “Templete” or Small Semi-Subterranean Temple were probably meant to represent humans, but have been said to resemble aliens. This has led to some ‘alternative’ theories as to who – or what – built Tiwanaku.

Today, Tiwanaku is a popular tourist site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitor can view its many monuments, gates – such as the well-known Gateway of the Sun – and statues, all of which attest to the importance of this once ceremonial city.

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Image Credit: canyalcin / Shutterstock

2. Train Graveyard

Just outside the town of Uyuni, in Bolivia, lies the train graveyard. Here lie the remains of dozens of steam engines, dumped when the railways in South America were dismantled. It is literally the end of the line.

The railway system was built in the middle of the 19th century by mainly European engineers, to join the east of of the continent to the west,a huge and ambitious task, having to cross the Andes to reach Chile, but the steam engines became obsolete and were discarded at Uyuni.

These beautiful old steam engines lie, unloved and rarely visited, preserved by the dry air of the cold desert. Uyuni is quite isolated, and it is advisable to go with someone who is familiar with the area. There is no charge for a visit.

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Image Credit: Mach marco / CC

3. San Vicente Museum

San Vicente Museum, also known as the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Memorial Museum, lies in a small mining town in Bolivia which is believed to be the site of the last stand of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Although legends have grown up around this pair of bank robbers, it is almost certain that they met their end here on November 7th 1908, at this small and insignificant town about a four hour drive along a dirt track from Uyuni.

There are no paved roads in this part of Southern Bolivia. The landscape is bleak, and the altitude is high on this pilgrimage to the sad end of Butch and Sundance, (or not, if you believe the legends) so romantically played in the 1969 film by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. If you do make it to the end of the trail, you are rewarded by a small museum with some facts and photos of these outlaws.

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