Historic Travel in South America
South America offers a treasure trove for history buffs struck with wanderlust. It is so rich in history that its offerings range from absolutely ancient, pre-Columbian venues to Spanish colonial sites, to monuments to events of the recent past. If you’re interested in bygone eras and find yourself in the continent, the following historic sites are not to be missed:
The old portion of the capital of Ecuador will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. It is home to the country’s oldest buildings, some of which are South America’s best baroque treasures.
Iglesia de San Francisco (Venezuela)
Simón Bolívar is one of the most important figures in South American history, so the church where he was proclaimed El Libertador back in 1813 certainly holds prominence not only in the country but throughout the region. The church itself dates back to the 1500s and shows architecture representative of that epoch.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the entire walled city is a living outdoor museum on the Spanish colonial era. The fortress, plazas, churches, mansions, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages all date to an era long gone. You’ll feel like you travelled to a different time.
The place shares the same name as the people that populated Bolivia from 1600 BC to 1200 AD. The archaeological site is about two hours away from the capital and boasts marvellous artefacts from pre-Columbian culture. From the irrigation system to the impressive monoliths, the entire place gives you an idea of just how advanced that civilisation was. Tiwanaku is intriguing in its mystery and is definitely a must-see for any history lover.
The Nazca Lines (Peru)
When we think of Peruvian history, we immediately envision the Incan civilisation. People naturally want to visit Machu Picchu and other important Incan sites in Cusco. Not to be missed either are the Nazca Lines, another enigma that continues to baffle the present civilisation. These are lines etched into the sands of the Peruvian desert in the southern coast. Dated to have been made sometime between 300 BC and 700 AD, the lines play a role in the ongoing extra-terrestrial debate.
This is the historical centre of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil boasts a number of baroque structures and other colourful colonial buildings. The large plazas and cobblestone streets are also testament to colonial times whilst maintaining the heritage and history of Afro-Brazilian culture.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chiu Chiu, and Caspana (Chile)
Because they’re located in the driest desert on the planet, the city of San Pedro experiences decay and deterioration very slowly, so much from olden times is preserved. From the pre-colonial Atacama Indian culture to the colonial adobe structures, so much remains to give us an idea about life back then.
Manzana de las Luces (Argentina)
This area was occupied by the Jesuits back in the 1600s and remained to be the intellectual centre of Buenos Aires up to the 18th century. It is also the location of the city’s oldest church.
South America travel is clearly replete with historic offerings. Which of the sites would you include in you bucket list? Tell us in the comments below.
Want to know more about travelling in South America? Check out our special Go To Guide featuring a brief summary of 32 of the most popular destinations.