San Francisco Church
The church's façade is a beautiful mix of native and Catholic art, decorated with ornate elements like snakes, dragons, birds, and masked figures. Once inside, the influence of baroque architecture disappears and neoclassical takes over with its cedar wood altars inscribed with gold leaf. Explore the church as part of a half-day or full-day walking tour, which covers the legends and history of this unique city while visiting prominent monuments such as the Presidential Palace, La Paz Cathedral, and the Witches Market. Longer tours may include nearby Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna) and its lunar-like scenery made up of dramatic pinnacles and gorges. Multi-day tours combine excursions to Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, and Salar de Uyuni.
Things to Know Before You Go
- San Francisco Church is ideal for history buffs and art and architecture enthusiasts.
- A small entrance fee to the museum includes a guided tour and access to the rooftop for an incredible view of the city.
- Only a few guides can speak English.
- Taking photographs and videos is not allowed inside.
- Be careful of pickpockets as the plaza outside is often crowded.
How to Get There
San Francisco Church is located in Plaza San Francisco in the center of La Paz. This historic church is an easy walking distance from many of the important landmarks of the city including Plaza Murillo, Sagarnaga Street, Museo Nacional de Arte, Museo de Coca, and Witches’ Market.
When to Get There
San Francisco Church is open daily with masses on Sunday mornings. La Paz has a temperate springlike climate year-round, with cooler temperatures from November through March. If you can, time a visit in May/June to experience the Festival of the Great Power (Fiesta del Gran Poder), featuring a colorful parade of brass bands and dancers.
Bolivia’s Trio of Cultures
Like many South American churches, San Francisco combines Catholic and indigenous art and symbolism. Distinctive here, however, are the facade’s modern stone columns with carvings that represent and honor the three cultures significant to Bolivia's history:xa0 the ancient Tiwanaku of Western Bolivia, the powerful Inca Empire that included Western and South Central Bolivia, and the modern faithful of the Catholic Church.
- Presidential Palace
- Museo Nacional de Arte (National Museum of Art)
- La Paz Cathedral
- Plaza Murillo
- Witches' Market (Mercado de las Brujas)
- Museum of Musical Instruments (Museo de Instrumentos Musicales)
- Calle Jaen Museums
- National Museum of Archeology (Museo Nacional de Arqueologia)
- Valle de La Luna (Valley of the Moon)
- Death Road (North Yungas Road)
- La Senda Verde
- Lake Titicaca