Thursday, September 17, 2009

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Top Historical Places To Visit in Bolivia

For those visiting Bolivia, it is a must to visit Lake Titicaca which lies 94 miles northwest of La Paz. This vast lake is the birthplace of one of the greatest empires in history as it was here the Children of the Sun stepped forth from the sacred rock and the Incas began.The water is still, calm and relaxing to any visitor. There are a few tours that go out onto the lake, and local fisherman but otherwise not much else.

Snow covered peaks of the Cordillera Real loom over the shores of the lake. The highlight for any tourist is the picturesque lake shore town of Copacabana, established according to legend by the Inca Tupac Yupanqui. This town holds a number of important Inca ruins, yet they are overshadowed by the Virgin of Copacabana, the towns main attraction. Pilgrims travel from afar for her blessing.

The Cathedral of Copacabana is the home of the Virgin. As the legend goes she appeared to Tito Yupanqui in a dream in 1580 causing him to travel to Potosi to learn to sculpt. He then hands carved the Virgin from the wood of a maguay cactus and carried her on foot to Copacabana from Potosi, placing it in a chapel in 1583. The Spanish completed the cathedral for her in 1617. The Virgin stands on a mechanical altar. On weekends she faces the main chapel and weekdays faces a small chapel on the other side. At the bottom of the altar is a silver ship representing the moon, and above the Virgin’s head is a gold statue which symbolizes the sun. The Virgin is revered.

For those visitors interested in archaeological sites there are three Inca ruins in Copacabana. The Asiento del Inca (Seat of the Inca) which some have said is where Inca priests met. The carvings here are large indentations into the rock resembling thrones. The carvings are at different levels in what appear different rooms and do not face the same direction. Then there is the Horca del Inca, a three rock structure that resemble gallows. It is believed the Incas watched the sun and stars here but unfortunately the Spanish destroyed much of the site searching for gold. Finally, the third site is the Bano del Inca where visitors will find a small museum dedicated to finds in the area. Behind the museum is a little spring said to have mystical powers.

Just outside La Paz visitors to the area can find Tihuanaco ruins where there are several structures to be seen. One thing that stands out is the 2M deep stone walled structure with 175 heads engraved in the sides. Also, the Kalassasaya Temple with its Puerto del Sol (Sun Gate) can be found alongside other stone figures. The Tihuanaco civilization lasted from about 600BC to 1200 AD before fading into obscurity.

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