City of Potosi

Along with the other seven people from my wilderness jeep tour, I took the evening bus from Uyuni to Potosi, where I had cunningly booked a hostel before I left Tupiza. It being a hostel though, there was no heating despite the city being at 4000m altitude, so I had to continue sleeping in three layers of clothing.

Potosi - main square

Potosi - main square

Potosi is a city that grew rich and influential on the massive silver lode found in the neighbouring mountain in the mid-sixteenth century. The mines were worked by an enslaved native population, who survived the long hard hours by chewing coca leaves. The ore was ground in hydraulically driven mills, the remains of which form part of this world heritage site, although I have to confess I did not take a trip out of town to see them.

Potosi

Potosi

I did however visit the museum in the eighteenth century mint where I got a healthy dose of technological history, in particular with the wonderful mule-driven, wooden geared rolling mills used to sequentially flatten silver ingots into thin sheets from which coins were then stamped.

Potosi - rolling mills for silver in the mint

Potosi - rolling mills for silver in the mint

The city has some terrific Baroque churches and convents, in the locally developed style that, as in other parts of the region, married European and indigenous influences.

 

Potosi - church facade detail

Potosi - church facade detail

 

For my Lego model, I’ve taken the main entrance to the mint building.

Potosi - Casa de Moneda

Potosi - Casa de Moneda

Which came out like this:

Lego Potosi

Lego Potosi

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