RELEASE DATE: 25 Jul, 2016

EDITORIAL BY William Wroblewski

On December 7, 2014, our city of La Paz, Bolivia, was named one of the Seven New Urban Wonders of the World by the New7Wonders Foundation of Switzerland. The global competition was a combination of expert judging and popular voting, and remains a great badge of honor for the people of La Paz. Though most residents and visitors certainly don’t need such a distinction to appreciate this amazing place, it was really the long, drawn-out effort of paceños and other Bolivians to launch and drive a global campaign that brought the city to the top of a list of 1,200 entries.

In winning this distinction, La Paz has joined six other cities around the world that offer their own unique attributes and distinct flair. Today La Paz stands beside the modern megaprojects and glossy architectures of Doha, Qatar; the mixing of the old and the new in the ‘Paris of the Mediterranean’, Beirut, Lebanon; the bustling ports and promenades of Durban, South Africa; the preserved, cigar-smoke-stained old quarters of Havana, Cuba; the mass flows of people below the towers of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the quaint colonial streets of tiny Vigan, Philippines.

To all these winning cities, La Paz sends a heartfelt ‘felicidades’ for achieving such a prestigious recognition for all the work you and your citizens have done to showcase the beauty and intrigue of your respective homes. The people of La Paz are honored to be amongst such impressive locales as we all share the global stage in showing off the wonders of our cities.

July 16 is an important day for our city. It commemorates the 1809 mestizo revolt against the Spanish, led by Pedro Domingo Murillo. This event, in which paceños ousted the governor and the bishop of La Paz during celebrations of the Virgen del Carmen, helped launch the years-long struggle for independence of Upper Peru, what is now Bolivia. This year, the city of La Paz is commemorating this day with nearly a week’s worth of cultural activities and celebrations. And our place as one of the world’s Seven Wonder Cities is taking center stage.

Paceños know this city deserves this global recognition. In the areas of culture, people, topography, history, food, heritage and urbanism, residents here have a lot to be proud of. So in this issue of Bolivian Express, we explored these themes as a way to showcase the amazing things La Paz has to offer its citizens and the world. With our writers from many corners of the globe, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria and Australia, we hope their visitors’ points of view provide new ways to see our city that will both enchant travelers passing through and enlighten the city’s residents to new perspectives on what makes La Paz so amazing.

So again, we raise our glass in congratulations to our fellow Wonder Cities, and encourage visitors and residents alike to join us as we offer our top reasons why La Paz is, without a doubt, a Ciudad Maravillosa!


La Paz’s Historic Calle Jaén

20 Jul, 2016 | Isabel Cocker

Photo: Isabel CockerA Passageway Back Into Colonial TimesThe buildings are what bring tourists here, and after that they come into our shop.A hidden alleyway tucked up in the maze of streets that lie...

Wonderfully Strange

20 Jul, 2016 | María Mayböck

Image Courtesy of Carlos Villagómez ParedesThe Mosaic of Modernity and Traditionalism in Paceño Architecture‘The city eats you up. It eats you, it chews you, it digests you and it defecates you.’– Car...

The Unstoppable Pepe Murillo

20 Jul, 2016 | Luke Henriques-Gomes

Photo: Luke Henriques-GomesThe Peña’s Elder Statesman Reflects on His Storied Past, and Looks to the FutureAsk Pepe Murillo a question about his life, and he responds with a song. In the living r...

Searching for La Paz’s Creative Pulse

20 Jul, 2016 | Luke Henriques-Gomes

Photo: Isabel CockerThree Artists Reflect on Working in the City‘I’ve tried to break the paradigm that art is only for people who understand it, or for people who have the money to buy paintings or go...

Valle de La Luna

20 Jul, 2016 | Abigail Alves

Celebrating the Aymara New Year in La PazPhoto: Isabel IonShe lays out her coca leaves over page 10 of El Dia’s June issue seated by herself in La Paz’s entrance to Valle de La Luna. She’s donning a n...

Stumbling into the Kitchen

20 Jul, 2016 | Isabel

How Jorge Luis Parra became a chef in the cityJorge Luis Parra admits that he became a chef by accident. Although food and flavour are now at the centre of his life, they are a fairly recent devotion....

Off The Beaten Track

20 Jul, 2016 | Isabel Ion

Illustration : Oscar ZallesLocal eats in the wonderful cityPaceña cuisine, relatively unknown on the international tourist track, is a hugely ingrained part of the identity of the city. Hearty, unpret...

Preserving Bolivia’s Heritage

20 Jul, 2016 | Isabel Cocker

Photo: Iván Rodriguez PetkovicThe role of museums in conserving national identity‘Our heritage is in information, in making our own society conscious of the place that it occupies in history and in th...

Streets like Pulsing Veins

20 Jul, 2016 | María Mayböck

How Transport Gives Life to a City A blur of zipping cars, once covered in a brownish smoke cloud, now makes its way up the dizzying heights of a steep zigzagging road, reflecting the blinding sun aga...

A Vertical Nature

25 Jul, 2016 | David Kavanagh

How Topography has forged La Paz’s IdentityPhoto: David KavanaghComing over the ridge from neighboring El Alto in the darkening twilight, travellers are met with an almost otherworldly sight. Through...

Héroe Paceño

20 Jul, 2016 | Abigail Alves

Photo: Abigail AlvesJosé Antonio Saavedra Keeps Murillo’s Torch Burning‘You need a lot of strength to carry this torch.’Pitch black hair greased over, a moustache sharper than a cutting knife and an e...


21 Aug, 2016 | Laetitia Nappert-Rosales

Photo: Valeria WildeThe sitting room, with family portraits,glass cabinet of antiquedishes and old round tablewith crocheted tablecloth, feltdemure and quiet at first. Suddenly itwakes up with the fir...

Why Is La Paz Maravillosa?

20 Jul, 2016 | María Fernandez

La Paz’s Ciudadanos Chime In on Why Their City Deserves Its AccoladesIt was only possible for La Paz to be selected as one of the New Seven Wonder Cities of the World because the people of La Paz vote...

Home to La Paz

20 Jul, 2016 | Laetitia Nappert-Rosales

Once young people left Bolivia to pursue their dream; now they are coming back to find it.Photos: Laetitia Nappert-Rosales‘Something that started growing in my mind was the idea of a Bolivian Dream.’...

Becoming a World Wonder

20 Jul, 2016 | María Fernandez

Photo: Alexandra Meleán AnzoleagaThe Campaign that Turned La Paz into a wonderful CityWhen Raúl Pérez first heard of the New Seven Wonders Cities contest, he figured nominating his city was quite a lo...

Together in the Light

20 Jul, 2016 | David Kavanagh

The slopes, the canyon, the chiseled cityA Photo essay by David KavanaghIf it were to be painted, the artist would keep three words in mind as he worked: vertical, rugged and alien. Brush in hand, he’...