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Spanish in Sucre

History and Culture Sucre

The fact that Sucre in Bolivia is known as the city with four names (Sucre, La Plata, Charcas and Ciudad Blanca) is evidence of its colourful and interesting past. It is currently the Constitutional Capital of Bolivia and home to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and its centre is a UNESCO protected, well-preserved white-washed postcard scene.

Early History

Theater

Sucre was founded in 1538 as Ciudad de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo by Pedro de Anzures. It was founded originally as a base for the exploration of more mining opportunities in the Andean Cordillera. In 1559 King Phillip of Spain established the Audiencia de Charcas in La Plata to oversee the activities of the area that is now Paraguay, part of Peru, Northern Chile, Northern Argentina and Bolivia. This area was initially part of the viceroyalty of Peru, but in 1776 it came under the sphere of the new Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. In 1601 the city's first Monastery was established and in 1609 it received an archbishop. Today Sucre is the site of the seat of the Catholic Church in Bolivia and it is not uncommon to see religious parades or people in religious dress in the streets.

Sucre has a strong academic reputation and in 1624 the St Francis Xavier University of Chuquisaca was inaugurated. It is now one of the oldest universities in the Americas. It specialised in the study of Law and Theology and became a hub for revolutionary sentiments and actions. Sucre attracted many wealthy families and even Royalty due to its moderate climate and proximity to Potosí. There is a very noticeable Spanish influence present in the city and it is set out in a grid like fashion in a very Andalucian style. However, the indigenous communities have made their mark and there are colourful, patterned artesenal goods aplenty to be bartered for. It is a city of slopes and hills, nooks and crannies and just generally pleasant delights to explore and enjoy.

It is said by many that Sucre was one of the first, if not the first, to initiate a cry for independence from the Spanish. It began in 1809 with the ringing of the bell in the Basilica of San Francisco until it broke. It can still be seen today in the Basilica as an important symbol of Bolivian Independence, finally achieved in 1825. Up until the 19th Century La Plata was the judicial, religious and cultural centre for the region and in 1826 it was named provisional capital by what is now known as Bolivia. Then, in 1839 the then President José Miguel Velasco proclaimed the city capital under law and renamed it Sucre after the Venezuelan independence leader and revolutionary Antonio José de Sucre.

The White City Today

Potosi

However, Sucre was not to hold this title forever and in 1898 the seat of the Government moved from Sucre to La Paz, following the decline in the silver mining trade in Potosí, leaving Sucre with only a half-capital city status.

In 1991 Sucre was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so its traditional white walls, red roofs and corners and crevices are now protected and preserved with even more care than before. It attracts many tourists each year due to being one of the more temperate Bolivian cities and also being in the centre of a number of smaller and even more traditional villages that are enjoyable to visit and are home to many historic monuments and ruins.

Sucre is one of the most tranquil cities that you are likely to find in South America, which is some mean feat, yet still offers a lively night scene and a bustling marketplace in the midst of its many historic buildings and well kept streets and plazas. Studying at a Spanish language school in Sucre is a great way to experience the culture and day to day life of this quirky little city and pick up some Spanish skills while you are at it.