Sucre, Bolivia’s Constitutional Capital

Founded by the Spanish almost 500 years ago, Sucre’s historic rise and decline was linked to the  Potosi silver mine. With its year’s round mild climate and lower altitude (2,800 metres), Sucre was the preferred place of residence for the wealthy involved with Potosi’s silver trade.

Sucre is Bolivia’s constitutional capital and home of the high court (La Paz is Bolivia’s seat of government). Sucre is also the capital of Chuquisaca Department. With its historic buildings, museums, good restaurants and pleasant climate, Sucre is a popular place to visit and stay. After Santa Cruz, Sucre became my home for four weeks this March as I took Spanish lessons (gracias Faby!) and enjoyed the atmosphere of the city in general and The Beehive Hostel in particular.

Sucre’s Mercado Central (Central Market) was a regular destination with its fruit and vegetable, general produce and juice stalls.

Sucre, Bolivia

One of many juice stalls lined up next to each other at Mercado Central

The centre of Sucre is the Plaza 25 de Mayo town square. On the town the square and surrounding streets lie many historic and impressive buildings including places of government, study and worship.

Sucre, Bolivia

Chuquisaca Governorship building on Plaza 25 de Mayo, Sucre

At least two chocolate makers are based in Sucre, both with shops off the main square. Chocolates Para Ti also has a second store (on Calle Audienca between Nicholas Ortiz and Bolivar) containing a small cafe. Here, one can enjoy chocolate-intense delights including their famous hot chocolate (literally, hot chocolate liquid) and a fruit skewer covered in chocolate sauce.

Sucre, Bolivia

Although I was sick with a cold at the time, I could not walk past Para Ti’s cafe without trying their hot chocolate and fruit skewer. The skewer was particularly delicious

Sucre restaurants I patronised multiple times included not-for-profit vegetarian Condor Cafe and French-inspired La Taverne. However, the venue I ate at the most was The Beehive Hostel. The hostel organised a few great meals including a traditional Bolivian Good Friday lunch. Hostel guests also collectively prepared and enjoyed meals together. Susi and The Beehive Hostel staff combined with guests to create a fantastic, friendly atmosphere.

One night several of us caught taxis across Sucre to a live music event. In typical South American style, the venue didn’t fill up until hours after doors opened. Another night we walked to a local karaoke bar. There I had the privilege of belting out Australian classic You’re The Voice. Surprisingly, the younger, largely European group provided good backing vocals. This was my third Bolivian karaoke session after Cochabamba and La Paz. All three bars lacked even a fan to move the thick cigarette smoke. While singing in Sucre, my left eye teared up; not from emotion but from smoke exposure.

Sucre, Bolivia

The Beehive Hostel’s guest kitchen buzzed around meal times

Sucre, Bolivia

Nuts from the Beehive Hostel courtyard’s walnut tree provided nutrition and flavour

Sucre, Bolivia

Vegetable kebabs cooking on the hostel’s barbecue

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Several Sucre street corners featured multiple street signs

One day I caught a local bus with other guests to Sucre’s outskirts for a hike to waterfalls. Recovering from a cold, at the first waterfall I relaxed in the shade and enjoyed the peaceful sound of water moving.

Sucre, Bolivia

The moon above a corn field on the walk back from the waterfalls

Sucre has several historic churches, some of whom are museums. One of these, the Church of San Felipe Neri, features a rooftop with great views of the city.

Sucre, Bolivia

Leaping over Sucre from the rooftop of San Felipe Neri

Sucre, Bolivia

Shawls hung across the courtyard of San Felipe Neri

During the week leading up to Easter, all churches were open. Outside of the main churches people hand-crafted and sold items made from plant material. The historic churches, like many old buildings in Sucre and other cities, contained giant doors with a set of door knockers located more than two metres high. For a country of very short people, this does not make sense. One explanation I heard is that the door knockers were for people on horseback to use. Easter is still very much a religious festival in Bolivia. The supermarkets contained only limited Easter chocolates and paraphernalia.

Sucre, Bolivia

Locals outside a church selling objects woven from plant materials

Sucre, Bolivia

People entering and exiting a church. Note the door knocker high up on the left of the door

Sucre, Bolivia

Eating the first course soup at The Beehive Hostel’s delicious Good Friday lunch; following soup we ate papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes), sardine sandwiches and rice pudding

Sucre, Bolivia

One of several impressive Sucre sunsets I witnessed during four weeks in this town

Fortunately, my time in Sucre coincided with the annual Pujllay Festival in nearby Tarabuco. I will write about Pujllay in another blog post.

In my final Sucre days I tried to post postcards. Unfortunately, the post office was closed due to a 48 hour strike by postal workers who hadn’t been paid for three months. Bolivia is infamous for its strikes and my departure from Sucre was impacted by a second strike. The drama leaving from Sucre for Potosi will be the subject of a separate post.