Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World started a series of colonial incursions in South America. Bolivia was not spared by the conquistadores in the 1550s; they sought to convert the natives to Christianity and make them loyal subjects of the Spanish monarchy. Santa Cruz de la Sierra, currently the largest city in the country, features this foreign influence in various aspects. The place, however, managed to preserve its unique identity and ways, making Santa Cruz a reflection of a city proud of its lineage.
When going to Santa Cruz for the first time, tourists will see two sides of the city. There may be modern Westernized facilities, but there's still the occasional horse-drawn cart cantering side by side with a taxi. Other traditional sights abound, such as camba music on the main square and the regular closing of stores for siesta every day. This slows down the lifestyle pace of the city, making it a possible destination for those looking to relax amidst an urban location.
Santa Cruz, a wonder city, is full of attractive sights to marvel at. One of them is the Basilica Manor de San Lorenzo, which is iconic for its religious artifacts and works of art from the colonial era. Founded in 1605, the cathedral has undergone a series of renovations that have maintained the intricate woodwork on the ceiling. The altar is also fascinating to behold, due to the silver plating. Tourists can also explore and end up in the bell tower. This treats climbers to a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
After a look around the basilica, the Museo de Arte Sagrado will enable guests to find relics from the missionary work in the 17th and 18th century. Other than the religious vestments and medallions used for evangelization, there's also a thumb-sized book containing translations of the Lord's Prayer in various languages.
To round up the cultural exposure, a sojourn to the Museo Etno-Folklorico will let visitors view displays of pre-Columbian culture. A collection of relics and works of art from the camba cultures such as Guarani, Mojeño, Chiquitano, and others can be seen here. Tourists looking to enjoy a more comprehensive examination of Bolivian culture can visit the Museo Nacional and Museo Guarani.
Santa Cruz is not all about cultural trips, however. There are also water sports available, for those who'd like to refresh themselves with a splash. Travelers looking to relieve themselves from the heat can go to Aqualand, a water park just north of the city center. Nature enthusiasts, on the other hand, can go out to Guembe for an all-around adventure. Visitors will see the butterflies and orchids here, or go fishing and explore the forests around the area.
How to get around within Santa Cruz
Travelers going from point A to point B in Santa Cruz can take the 'micros' or buses. This will let them go around various streets and districts. Trains are also accessible, which connects passengers from Santa Cruz station to the Puerto Quijarro near the border with Brazil.
Driving around is also an option, as there are agencies that offer cars for rent. Tourists are advised to check around various options to determine the average amount they need to pay. This also applies well to looking for taxis. A lack of meter makes it necessary to negotiate prices, especially when carrying many pieces of baggage.
How to get there
When going to Santa Cruz, tourists will most probably land on Viru-Viru International Airport. The Latin American airlines serving this port of entry are Aerolineas Argentinas, Amaszonas, Avianca Ecuador, Avianca Peru, Boliviana de Aviacion, Copa Airlines, EcoJet SA, Gol Airlines, LAN Airlines, LAN Peru, and TAM.
Travelers can also book connecting flights coming from North America and Europe through American Airlines, Air Europa, and Pullmantur Air.
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Airports near Santa Cruz
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