Culture

Discover the Culture and Traditions of La Paz, Bolivia

October 9, 2015

 

The only street in La Paz to have kept its colonial character, those who stay closer to the action in the Sagarnaga area often overlook Calle Jaen. With cobblestones that practically sing the stories of old Alto Peru, it is a gem that nobody should miss.  Despite its small size, it houses five different museums. Apart from the museums, there are some shops and a small art gallery. Should travellers wish to stay here, there is also the option of a good value hostel in a colonial building. Here are some of the reasons travellers should put this street high on their list on a visit to La Paz.

 

Warning!!!

Casa de la Cruz Verde, which appears in the title photo, received both its cross and its name from a malicious spirit that used to torment helpless drunken revellers at this spot. Partying travellers beware…

Map at entrance to Calle Jaen in La Paz, Bolivia

Welcome to Calle Jaen!

Calle Jaen Museums

Museo Costumbrista Juan de Varga

This museum is actually on the corner of Calle Jaen and Avenida Sucre. It is also here that you can buy the entrance ticket to the four museums and this is where you need to pay the camera fee to take photos. Along with the costumes that form the bulk of the collection, this museum houses a diorama of old La Paz.

Museo del Litoral Boliviano

Reached through Museo Costumbrista, this museum commemorates the loss of the Atacama province to Chile. As suggested by its name, the loss of access to the coast was traumatic and Bolivian often speak about this event.  It nevertheless provides an interesting insight into late 19th-century La Paz with many photos from the period of the city and its people.

Museo Casa de Murillo

The president who was hanged in the square of the same name had his house here. With a charming central patio, the upstairs floor has rooms with period decoration. The entrance to this is at the top of Calle Jaen.

Museo de los Metales Preciosos

The museum contains two floors of Pre-Colombian metal objects. The gold collection downstairs is beautifully mounted. This is a small but impressive museum.

The 40 boliviano entrance ticket covers all these museums and you will pay an extra 10 bolivianos to take photos (prices in July 2015).  Museo Costumbrista sells tickets (entrance on Avenida Sucre).

Museo de los Instrumentos Musicales

Separate to the Calle Jaen Museums at the corner near Casa de la Cruz Verde, this museum has almost got a family feel. It has a selection of historic and modern instruments with a real hands-on approach.  As a result, visitors can touch or play many of the instruments. Charming! The entrance fee was 5 bolivianos in July 2015.

Entrance to Museo Costumbrista in La Paz, Bolivia

Entrance to Museo Costumbrista in Avenida Sucre

Silhouette of a soldier in Calle Jaen, La Paz

Museo del Litoral Boliviano

Patio in Casa Murillo, Calle Jaen, La Paz, Bolivia

Museo Casa de Murillo

Traditional Music: Traditional music sessions and concerts take place at both Museo de los Instrumentos Musicales and the Ethnocafe. The latter is also a good place to grab a bite to eat and surf the net due to its good Wi-Fi connections.

Sleeping: Stay in the charmingly restored Hostal Ananay. Attentive staff and a beautiful building, what more could you ask for? Relax overlooking the central courtyard or go to the roof for views of the city. This colonial building is the result of a restoration. It offers travellers the experience of staying in a building reminiscent of La Paz in the olden days. Beside the Ethnocafe,  the multilingual staff can also organise airport pickups. Highly recommended.

Website: http://www.hostalananay.com/

Cosy spot to relax in Hotel Ananay, La Paz, Bolivia

Relax at Hostal Ananay

Top Tip:

Travel to Isla del Sol is easy to arrange from La Paz. The reliable Hanaq Pacha agency in Calle Jaen offers tours single and multiple day tours. They also sell tickets for Bolivia Hop bus tickets to Peru with stopovers possible in Copacabana and Puno.

Website: http://www.hanaqpachatravel.com/

For more tips and ideas for your visit to Bolivia take a look here

This article has now been turned into in app in collaboration with GPSMyCity.com

To access it as a walking tour with GPS coordinates, please click here 

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply 2traveldads April 22, 2016 at 14:41

    What a gem of a district! I love when we find those amazing and hidden spots…even when they’re only one street.

    • Reply Unlatinoverde April 22, 2016 at 14:43

      Thanks. Only one street, but a street packed with culture.

  • Reply Patricia - Ze Wandering Frogs April 25, 2016 at 04:29

    We visited La Paz Mexico, have yet to go to the bigger La Paz Bolivia!

  • Reply Travel Lushes (@TravelLushes) April 25, 2016 at 18:35

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Bolivia has been calling my name lately and I’m thinking about going there next year. I’m a big fan of exploring hidden gems and local culture, so this seems right up my alley.

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