A visit to the Palacio Portales is a must for anyone interested in seeing how the upper, upper crust of Bolivia lived in the early 20th century. Ironically, the tin baron Simón Patiño never lived here -- he suffered a heart attack during its construction, and his heart condition prevented his return to his native country. In fact, Charles de Gaulle is the only person who has ever spent the night in the house. What a pity, because this mansion is a real beaut.
Patiño was originally from the Cochabamba area, but he discovered an enormous tin deposit near the mining town of Oruro. By the turn of the 20th century, he controlled 10% of the world's tin. He commissioned a French architect to design and build the house from 1915 to 1927 while he was living in Europe. You enter the house through a round, neoclassical entrance. Inside, your guide will take you to several different rooms, which speak of the opulence of that time period. The walls are covered with silk wallpaper; crystal chandeliers from Venice hang from the rafters; and green-and-white marble fireplaces were built to keep the house warm. Each room has its own unique floor design. Thanks to the dry climate of Cochabamba, everything here has been impeccably preserved. Today, the house is used as a cultural center. After the tour, you can walk through the beautiful Japanese gardens or visit the Contemporary Art Center (Mon-Fri 3-9pm; admission is 3Bs/40¢/20p). Plan on spending about an hour here.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Av. Potosí 1450
- Near the intersection of Av. Portales
- Tours in English Mon-Fri at 5:30pm and Sat at 11am
- No Sweat
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