Plaza 25 de Mayo in the centre of Sucre is one of the most beautiful squares in South America, with its magnificent buildings, numerous cafés and restaurants, and shade trees.
Plaza 25 de Mayo is the central square in the old town and surrounded by some of Sucre's most beautiful sights. With its magnificent and historically valuable buildings, Plaza 25 de Mayo is considered one of the most beautiful squares in Bolivia or even in all of South America. Looking at the bright white facades, it becomes clear how Sucre got its nickname "White City".
Around the square, which is planted with trees and flower beds, souvenir shops invite you to browse and cosy bars invite you to linger. In front of the proud façades of magnificent buildings, the colourful hustle and bustle of pigeons, local families, tourists, students, street musicians and vendors of all kinds can be wonderfully observed over a cup of coca tea or hot chocolate.
Also interesting is the Bolivian organic shop Drogueria Natural, which sells natural food, cosmetics and natural remedies.
Tip: Plaza 25 de Mayo is particularly atmospheric at night or at Christmas, when a huge Christmas tree shines brightly.
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Monument to Antonio José de Sucre
In the centre of Plaza 25 de Mayo, probably the most important man of the state is immortalised as a monument flanked by two lions. The freedom fighter Antonio José de Sucre not only gave his name to the city, but was also the first president of the newly founded state of Bolivia. The politician Jaime de Zudanez, who was born in Sucre, is also enthroned as a majestic statue on a column at Plaza 25 de Mayo.
Casa de la Libertad (Historical Museum)
In keeping with the monument to the independence fighter, the "House of Freedom" is also the "Birthplace of Bolivia" in the central square of Sucre. This is where the independence treaty was signed in 1825, thus creating the state of Bolivia. This is the reason for Sucre 's advertising slogan as the birthplace of Bolivia: "Sucre, donde nacio Bolivia" ("Sucre, where Bolivia was born").
Bolivia was the last country to free itself from the Spanish yoke. This also marked the official end of the South American independence struggles in the same place where they had begun in May 1809. Fittingly, the new state was named after Simon Bolivar, probably the most famous freedom fighter in South America.
Visit to the Casa de la Libertad in Sucre
Originally a Jesuit chapel, the Casa de la Libertad now attracts visitors as a museum about Bolivia's history. It mainly deals with the time of the independence struggles, when Bolivia, together with several other South American countries, freed itself from the Spanish colonial power.
Admission to the museum costs only a few Bolivianos (photography at extra charge) and includes a guided tour in Spanish or English. The individual rooms of the Casa de la Libertad can also be explored on your own, but the guided tour is highly recommended due to the interesting background information.
Eye to eye with Bolivian independence
Bolivia's Declaration of Independence, important writings, unpublished documents and other significant relics from that time are on display in the Independence Hall of the Casa de la Libertad. An oil painting of Simon Bolivar, created by the Peruvian painter José Gil de Castro, is enthroned in its centre. Simon Bolivar himself is said to have described it as the best portrait of him that existed.
In addition to the Independence Room, you can also visit the Hall of Deputies, where the Independence Treaty was signed on 6 August 1825, and the Viceroy's Room with portraits of the Spanish kings Charles III and Ferdinand VII and maps of the Spanish colonies. The rooms are always preserved as they housed the revolutionaries at the time.
Government Palace (Cabildo de Sucre)
Just to the right of the Casa de la Libertad is Sucre's grandiose town hall. Its original building dates back to 1567, but was too simple and was blown up to be rebuilt in 1610.
In 1888, the reconstruction of the government palace began in colonial style with eclectic and classicist elements. The then two-storey building was equipped with a generous portal and round arches that symbolically brought it closer to the people.
The elaborate façade and the magnificent offices inside date from this period. Also worth mentioning is the ornate stained glass on the second floor, which depicts an allegory of Bolivia's Chuquisaca region.
Chuquisaca City Hall
Around the corner from the Casa de la Libertad is the Chuquisaca Provincial Town Hall. It was built in 1892 under President Mariano Baptista on the former site of the Archbishop's Palace and was to have been the seat of Bolivia's government before it was moved to La Paz. The snow-white building with classicist, renaissance and art nouveau elements displays probably the most beautiful façade on Plaza 25 de Mayo.
The monumental Catedral Metropolitana on the south-west side of Plaza 25 de Mayo symbolises the European influence in Sucre with its mixture of Renaissance and Baroque. The magnificent church was the most important religious meeting place for Sucre's European immigrants from the mid-16th century onwards.
Construction of the Catedral Metropolitana of Sucre
Construction of the Sucre Cathedral began in 1551, and its construction, with all the alterations and extensions, lasted over a century and was not completed until 1712. As a result, its façade contains both Baroque and Renaissance elements.
These architectural styles are typical of the churches of this time - they symbolise the increasing colonisation by Europe and thus Christianisation, which at that time was taking place in South America from the Manzana de los Jesuitas in Cordoba, Argentina.
Visit to the Sucre Cathedral
The cathedral's imposing bell tower greets visitors from afar. Its tower clock was made in London in 1772. Statues of the apostles and evangelists look down from the balconies of the stone Baroque façade.
The interior is bright and friendly. The white and gold in neoclassical style, together with the ubiquitous Potosi silver jewellery on candlesticks and altars, give the Catedral Metropolitana a majestic atmosphere.
Part of the cathedral houses a museum that presents sacred art from the 16th to 18th centuries. Its exhibits represent one of the most important collections of sacred art in Bolivia.
Chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Next to the Catedral Metropolitana is the Chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe, built in 1617 and dedicated to the patron saint of Sucre. It houses an impressive image of the Virgin of Guadalupe framed with pearls, diamonds and emeralds. It was created in 1601 by Fray Diego de Ocañain and is also known as "Mamita Guadeluope". Once a year, the patron saint of Sucre is celebrated with a colourful procession.
Museo del Tesoro (Gemstone Museum)
On the opposite side of the cathedral is the Museo del Tesoro. The lovingly furnished gemstone museum was opened in 2015 as a family business and presents, among other things, the most valuable jewels of Latin America.
History of the Museo del Tesoro
The idea for the museum was born in the Morales-Torricos family as early as 1990, but it was not until 2006 that the decision was made to build the venerable colonial villa in the heart of Sucre's old town. The building from the 1560s was rebuilt and renovated several times. It received its current appearance in the late 19th century from its then owner, Bolivian President Aniceto Arce.
After another conversion into a museum, the vision of the Morales-Torrics family began to take shape in 2012 and another three years later the Sucre Gemstone Museum was opened.
Visit to the Sucre Gemstone Museum
The lovingly decorated Museo del Tesoro is open all week. Guided tours in Spanish, English or French are included in the entrance fee and last about one hour.
On display are mainly precious stones and metals from Bolivia, including the most valuable jewels in Latin America. Every single piece is perfectly staged and amazes the viewer with its luxurious shine.
In addition to the precious materials, the process of creation, the transformation from pre-Columbian jewellery to today and various processing techniques are also presented. Thus, the museum also provides an interesting insight into the geology of Bolivia and the sometimes unbelievable working conditions in the gold and silver mines.
Museo Anatomía Humana
On the southeast side of Plaza 25 de Mayo is the Museo Anatomía Humana, a natural history museum devoted primarily to the human body.