Museo y Convento de San Francisco

Museum in Potosí

This convent, founded in 1547 by Fray Gaspar de Valverde, is the oldest monastery in Bolivia. Owing to its inadequate size, it was demolished in 1707 and reconstructed over the following 19 years. The museum has a fine collection of religious art, including paintings from the Potosí school, such as The Erection of the Cross by Melchor Pérez de Holguín, various mid-19th-century works by Juan de la Cruz Tapia and 25 scenes from the life of St Francis of Assisi.

The highlight of the excellent tour (1½ hours; English-speaking guides are unlikely) comes at the end, when you’re ushered up the tower and onto the roof for grand views of Potosí. You also visit the catacombs, which have a smattering of human bones and a subterranean river running nearby.

A gold-covered altar from this building is now housed in the Casa Nacional de la Moneda. The statue of Christ that graces the present altar features hair that is said to grow miraculously.


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