Heritage 101: At least 10 of Bolivia’s cultural heritage sites are at risk

Anahí Cazas and Margarita Palacios report for Pagina Siete:


At least 10 of Bolivia’s cultural heritage sites are at risk

Seven experts consulted by Pagina Siete identified the sites and explained that required conservation works and management.

2014-06-25 08.23.25 amFor lack of conservation and management, ten sites that were declared as Heritage and Monuments of Bolivia are at risk of deterioration and four more at risk of being lost.

These heritage of which there are six archaeological sites, two colonial temples and a museum were identified by seven experts consulted by Pagina Siete, concerning the situation of the Cerro Rico de Potosi, which on Tuesday joined the World Heritage List at Risk from the Unesco.

The first site identified by specialists was the Tiwanaku archaeological site, declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 by UNESCO.

“After Potosi, Tiwanaku is another place that has more problems due to lack of management and a holistic view of the ‘use’ of this archaeological site. In 2010, UNESCO recommended not to allow climbing the Akapana pyramid. But the suggestion was not taken into account,” said Zazanda Salcedo, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites Bolivia.

Archaeologist Jedu Sagárnaga also identified another problem of Tiwanaku, is the situation of museums that are in disrepair and inconclusive. “The monuments are not protected, the more important is the Puerta del Sol [Sun’s gate] which is out in the open,” he said.

The second property that worries experts is the archaeological site of Samaipata, located in Santa Cruz and declared a National Monument in 1951 and of Humanity in 1998. “This site is abandoned because although it is visited by tourists, as in Tiwanaku, to date there is no security strip that was made to preserve this heritage historic center. Moreover, you need a master plan and land use, “said Ronald Terán, former director of the Ministry of Culture Heritage.

About Samaipata, Salcedo added that on this site they are doing a good technical and administrative job this year, but there is no access to any resources for the conservation of carved stones.

The third heritage at risk, according to Sagárnaga, is the archaeological site of Condor Amaya, located in the town of Umala Aroma province of La Paz. It is a necropolis of the period 1200-1450 AD. In 2006, it received the title of National Monument Bolivia. “Since its establishment, the State has not invested a single penny to keep this site as several of its structures are crumbling,” said Sagárnaga.

For the scholar Matthias Strecker, secretary general of the League of Rock Art Research in Bolivia, one of the assets, the fourth, which runs the risk of being lost is the archaeological site of Intinkala located opposite to the General Cemetery in the town of Copacabana. “Six months ago, we pointed out that this site is at risk from lack of care and conservation. Vandalism were recorded as inscriptions on rocks and trash are over the place,” he said.

Also, before this site was declared a National Monument in 1941, a soccer field was constructed. “I suppose that young people play in that space enter the archaeological site and cause damage,” he said.

The fifth property at risk, according to the specialist Rolando Sarabia, director of the Escuela Taller de La Paz [Workshop School of La Paz], is the archaeological site of Iskanwaya, located in Aucapata, Muñecas province of La Paz. This is a pre-Columbian citadel dating from the years 1200 to 1400 AD and is part of the mollo culture. It was declared a National Monument in 1976. “Iskanwaya is an important site that holds the remains of the Mollo culture. However, is forgotten and at risk of being lost due to lack of conservation policies,” Sarabia said.

Located in Sud Yungas of La Paz, the sixth heritage of concern to scholars, is the archaeological site of Pasto Grande National Monument. This is an area which houses agricultural terraces, also citadels, access roads and irrigation channels that show the degree of technological advancement of the pre-Columbian period.

“Pasto Grande is one of the most neglected archaeological sites in the country and may be in danger of being lost,” said the historian Fernando Cajías.

The seventh site that requires to be saved is Cundisa, one of the most important pre-Hispanic cemetery of Inca culture and based in Copacabana. It was declared a National Archaeological Park, through a Presidential Decree. Last year, experts reported that the place is abandoned and when Pagina Siete visited the site showed that it was full of trash.

For colonial temples, two churches in the country with severe impairment were identified. One of these temples, the eighth heritage, is the church of San Sebastian, considered as the first Catholic building in La Paz and declared a National Monument in 1930. “San Sebastian is one temple that urgently requires restoration. Consider it one of the major architectural concerns of La Paz”, Cajías said.

Rubén Ruiz director of the Potosi Mint [Casa de la Moneda], another architectural heritage at risk, the ninth, is the temple of Yocalla Salinas, located in the department of Potosí and built in 1747. “This temple is completely deteriorated. Has a value of importance because it is mestizo baroque and has a portal similar to the temple of San Lorenzo,” he said.

Finally, the tenth Heritage in Need is to save the Museum of the Island of the Sun. “For a problem, between community members, this repository is closed and their pieces can not have conservation work,” Strecker said.

When consulted, the Minister of Culture Pablo Groux said that the adoption of the Law on Cultural Heritage, the responsibility among all regional bodies will be shared to preserve the sites. “We can not require the management of Cultures Patrimony of the administration of 35 thousand archaeological sites,” he said and added that in Tiwanaku and Samaipata was advanced in the field of management.

Tiwanaku Site

1. According to experts, one of the main concerns is the lack of site management to preserve parts and Tiwanaku monuments.


2. Lacking financial resources and technical personnel to preserve the structure of Samaipata, which is a carved rock.

Condor Amaya

3. In 2006, it was declared a National Monument, but to date is not supported to open a museum at the site and conserve the pieces it holds.


4. Six months ago, reported that at this site, located in Copacabana, are at risk because they built a place facing the football field.


5. Several walls are impaired by the effects of weather. It was built before the Machu Picchu and is in Aucapata.

Pasto Grande

6. An area that houses agricultural terraces, also pre-Columbian towns. Requires a conservation plan.


7. Place declared as National Archaeological Park, is forgotten because it does not advance the projects.

San Sebastian

8. Building that was finished in 1559. In 2012, it was warned that “the tower and dome are in danger.”

Salinas de Yocalla

9. In April this year, reported that this temple is about to collapse. It was built between 1743 and 1747.

Isla del Sol Museum

10. The archaeological museum of Isla del Sol is closed by a problem between two communities of that place.

Bolivia has nine World Heritage sites

Panorama. Among sites and cultural expressions, Bolivia has nine tangible or intangible cultural heritage sites declared as such by UNESCO.

1. Potosi was one of the first places in the country to be declared a Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1987.

2. In 1990, the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, located in the east of the country, also received the declaration.

3. In 1991, the city of Sucre, known as Charcas or the White City, received the title of Cultural Heritage.

4. Samaipata archaeological and cultural site located southwest of Santa Cruz, received the declaration in 1998.

5. In May 2000 declared heritage archaeological site of Tiwanaku.

6. In 2000, was recognized the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park.

7. In July 2001, the Carnaval de Oruro took the title of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

8. In 2003, the Kallawaya culture, Bautista Saavedra province of La Paz Department, also received recognition from Unesco.

9. In 2012 obtained the title Ichapekene Piesta, San Ignacio de Moxos.


Published by Bolivian Thoughts

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