In an Andean valley in central Bolivia, Sucre is the country’s judicial capital and the capital of the Chuquisaca department. The city is traversed by the River Cachimayo.
In pre-Columbian times, the region of Choque-Chaca (Silver Hill) was inhabited by the Charcas Indians. Pedro Anzures founded the town of La Plata there in 1538. In the mid-sixteenth century an audencia, or administrative area, was established by Gonzalo Pizarro with La Plata as its capital. This area incorporated most of Bolivia, Paraguay, southeast Peru, northern Chile and Argentina. It became an archbishopric in 1609 and 15 years later the Universidad de San Francisco Xavier was established. The town’s name changed to Chuquisaca in 1776. By then it was the religious, educational, political and judicial centre of the country.
Chuquisaca was the heart of the independence movement from 1809. When independence from Spanish rule was granted in 1825 Bolivia was named after its liberator, Simón Bolivar. The city became the Bolivian capital in 1839 and the following year Chuquisaca was renamed Sucre after fellow Venezuelan revolutionary and the first president of Bolivia (1826–28), Antonio José de Sucre. Geographical isolation led to a challenge for capital status by the increasingly important city of La Paz. As a compromise to the resulting conflict, Sucre remained the national capital and judicial seat while La Paz became the country’s political and administrative centre.
Sucre is the judiciary seat of Bolivia. Aside from its capital status, agriculture is the main economic activity, although there is some oil refining and cement production. Since 1991 Sucre has been a UNESCO world heritage site. The national university, the Universidad de San Francisco Xavier, is one of Latin America’s oldest dating from 1624. Sucre is connected by rail to Potosí and by road to surrounding towns.
Places of Interest
Sucre has preserved much of its colonial heritage. There’s a seventeenth century cathedral, with a museum, the Mudejar style churches of San Miguel and San Fernando, and the Iglesia de la Recoleta which displays paintings from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries. The Casa de la Libertad documents the struggle for independence and is the place where the declaration was signed. Other museums include the Museo Textil Etnográfico (Ethnographic Textile Museum) which displays traditional weaving styles while Cal Orcko, 10 km north of Sucre, contains dinosaur prints and evidence of prehistoric plant and animal fossils.