Potosí was founded in 1546 after the discovery of the rich silver deposits in the Cerro Rico. It soon became one of the wealthiest and largest cites in the Americas. The mines of the Cerro Rico are the richest mines in all of world history and may have produced 60,000 tons of silver. The name Potosi was adopted by San Luis de Potosi in Mexico to reflect their hopes for equal riches. It is reputed that at one time mules were shoed with silver due to the difficulty of getting supplies of iron to the city. Some of this wealth was used to build magnificent baroque churches (UNESCO listed sites) and monasteries. Millions of indigenous labourers and African slaves perished in mines in the three centuries of colonial rule. Estimates range from 2 million at the low end to 8 million at the upper end. The miners were often below ground for weeks at a time. In 1800 the silver mines were depleted and tin became the major ore mined. Recently they are mining rare earths. All of this lead to a slow economic decline.
The new bus terminal (Nueva Terminal) is now open. It is located NE end of the city and is 20-30 min micro (minibus) ride from the downtown. The old terminal (Ex-Terminal) is still used for Uyuni bound bus and shared taxi to Sucre.
Overnight buses from La Paz to Potosi are available almost every hour, especially in the evening. Prices range from appx. 47 (normal) to 146 (cama), with minimum and maximum prices within each category, depending on the time and season. El Dorado cama bus (3 seats in each row) from La Paz is very clean, comfortable, and well-heated, with open and clean toilet (Bs. 100).
Taxis are generally cheap and plentiful around Potosi. However, always check the price with the driver. Some charge per person which could get you into arguements when it comes time to pay. Bus from Centro area to Main bus Terminal costs 1Bs. Taxis from main bus Terminal between 3-5bs depending on your bartering skills and the time of day.
- Casa Nacional de Moneda, Cl. Ayacocha s/n, is de former royal mint, but now houses one of the better museums in South America. A visit is by guided tour (English and French if there is enough demand) which takes about 2~3 hours. The museum has a collection of religous art, contempary art,and artifacts from it’s time as mint. Entrance is Bs. 40 for foreigners and Bs. 20 for Bolivians. Closed on Monday.
- Convento de Santa Teresa, Calle Chichas (Bottom end of Calle Ayacucho). Tours (in Spanish only) give a good explanation of the life and work of the Carmelite nuns and their monastry. Very little flagellation (LP). Bs 21.
- Compañia de Jesus, Calle Ayaucho (Half a block from the square). Nice views of the surroundings from above. A guide will explain. 10 Bs.
- City panorama in the night time. If you come by bus from Uyuni at night, Potosí meets you with wonderful lights.
- The cheapest meals can be found in the Mercado Central.
- Sky Room (Mirador), Calle Bolivar 701, 3rd floor, ☎ 622 0138. Nice view of Cerro Rico 4 course lunch Bs 15. edit
- Sumaj Orcko, Cl. Cobija 34, serves overpriced big plates but food is not good and they try to charge you higher prices than in menu (45-50 Bs), also a good place for lunch (15 Bs).
- Manzana Magica, Cl Oruro 239, tasty vegetarian food, not at crazy tourist prices. Veggie burgers of quinoa, oats, lentils or more with papas fritas cost Bs 9 and full platters range Bs-15-25. They do have coca tea even though it’s not on the menu.
- Chifa Rosa, Cl. Cobija 38, cheap but not special chinese food.
- Pasteleria Cherrys, Padillo 8, for pastels and breakfast.
- El Meson, Cnr Tarija & Linares. Upmarket restaurant with great food at reasonable prices, start with the great house salad for 12B
- jeremias, calle sucre. very cheap and good food,there is beautiful paint and the people are very sympathetic.you can also help and they give you food for the lunch and the dinner
- Cine de Universidad, Bolivar 893, for Hollywood movies.
- Koala Den, Junín 56, 4 blocks from the square, (02)6226467 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Has heating in the rooms! Book exchange, fast Internet with Wi-Fi. Dorm bed with excellent breakfast including eggs and fruit! 45 Bs. Also doubles and triples. Has highly recommended tours of the silver mines even though they are a bit more expensive than other tour companies. Has a great view of the mountain from the rooftop.
Update October 2015: matrimonials/doubles with/without bathroom are 150Bs and 90Bs respectively.
- Residencial Tarija, Av Serrudo 252, Cheap but quiet rooms set back from the road. Shared bathroom and showers. Single Bs25., Bs60. for two bed or double bed room.
- Residencial Felcar, Av Serrudo esq. Bustillos 345, (02)6224966. Another favorite spot by travellers. It has a nice, sunny patio and hot showers from 8am to 10pm. Some of the singles are tiny. Single Bs25.
- Hotel Jerusalem with beautiful views over Potosi from breakfast room and from roof top.
- Carlos Hostal V, Calle Linares No 42, ☎ 02 6231010. Here is a great new hostel in the heart of Centro Potosi. Great beds, fast wifi, medium to warm showers, and a great lounging area. from 70b.