The only street in La Paz to have kept its colonial character, Calle Jaen is often missed by those who stay closer to the action in the Sagarnaga area. With cobblestones that practically sing the stories of old Alto Peru, it is a gem that should not be missed. Despite its small size, it houses five different museums, not to mention 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 converted colonial building. Here are some of the reasons travellers should put this street high on their list on a visit to La Paz.
Casa de la Cruz Verde, which appears in the title photo, received both its cross and its name due to the presence of a malicious spirit that used to torment helpless drunken revellers at this spot in the days of Alto Peru. Partying travellers beware…
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 also 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 has never been forgotten. 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: Two floors of Pre-Colombian metal objects. The gold collection downstairs is beautifully mounted. This is a small but impressive museum.
All these museums are covered by the 40 boliviano entrance ticket and you will pay an extra 10 bolivianos to take photos (prices in July 2015). Both tickets are purchased at the Museo Costumbrista (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, some of which can be touched or even played. Charming! The entrance fee was 5 bolivianos in July 2015.
Traditional Music: traditional music sessions and concerts are organized at both Museo de los Instrumentos Musicales and the Ethnocafe (this 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 across the city. This colonial building has been lovingly restored, offering travellers the experience of staying in a building reminiscent of La Paz in the olden days. It is located beside the Ethnocafe. Multilingual staff can organize airport pickups. Highly recommended.
Travel to Isla del Sol is probably best arranged from La Paz. The reliable and highly recommended Hanaq Pacha agency in Calle Jaen offers tours single and multiple day tours. They also sell tickets to Bolivia Hop bus tickets to Peru with stopovers possible in Copacabana and Puno.
For more tips and ideas for your visit to Bolivia take a look here
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