For a brief history of the Americas, look no further than Potosi, a city born of blood, colonial exploitation and the tragic legacy of the Cerro Rico mine which still dominates the town.

Founded in 1546 as a simple mining settlement, no one could have imagined that the mountain’s supply of silver which poured into the coffers of the Spanish crown would make Potosi one of the most glorious colonial cities in the world. Magnificent mansions, towers and churches sprung up while the indigenous communities and even African slaves were worked to death in the mine. Over time the mine ran dry and Potosi’s was a reduced a shell of its former self, a dusty highland town of crumbling monuments perched at 4000m above sea-level. Today, the city is a fascinating relic of the conquest and home to a number of good museums including the country’s original Mint. The mine is still in operation today and visitors can even venture into the mountain on guided tours – not for the faint hearted!

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