Founded on the site of the previous ancient city of the Urus, Oruro was born as Real Villa de San Felipe de Austria after the Spanish monarch, Philip III, in November 1st, 1606.
Its history goes back to the Urus, one of the oldest cultures of the continent and owes its own existence to the discovery in the early 1605 of rich silver-concentrated minerals in the region.
It grew in importance, becoming the largest city in the Alto Peru by XVII century, however, with the decline of silver mining activities, it turned into an abandoned city not long after.
Its revivial as a mining city took place again - this time in the production of tin - in the late XIX and early XX centuries, when Simon I. Patiño - later one of the wealthiest men in the world - bought La Salvadora, a tin mine located east of the city, in 1887.
With the decline in tin, Oruro again rested, although today, still depends on mining of tin, tungsten, and copper as the foundation for its economy. Tourism is the second income stream.
In fact, it receives around half million visitors that come to attend its world famous Carnival of Oruro every year, one of the most important festivals in South America. It's also known as Diablada - Dance of the Devils. With a strong religious and spiritual connection, this is the celebration of Bolivia's Uru people, from which the city owes its name.
Capital of the Oruro Department - created on September 5, 1826 during the government of Marshal Antonio Jose de Sucre - it's located in the Andes of western Bolivia, in the heart of the Bolivian Altiplano (highland plateau), at an altitude of 3,709 meters above sea level. See it on the map.
Known for its cold weather, Oruro experiences from May to early July nightime temperatures that can reach -20 °C. Warmer temperatures occur in August, September and October, while November through March corresponds to the rainy period. For more info on the country's climate, please visit Bolivia Climate.
The city has a number of attractions worth to be explored, both in town and nearby locations. Only recently - February 1st, 2014 - Oruro has unveiled a massive statue of the Virgen of Socavón - patron saint of miners.
Located on the top of Santa Barbara hill, the 45-meter (150-foot) tall statue of the Virgin currently stands as the largest in South America, at the incredible height of 3,850 meters (12,600 feet) above sea level. It actually is about 7 meters taller than Christ the Redeemer statue, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Oruro is roughly 140 miles south from La Paz, from where it can easily be reached.
- From La Paz: 230 Km, 3-4 hours.
- From Cochabamba: 212 Km, 4-5 hours.
- From Potosí 321 Km, 5 hours.
- From Sucre: 349 Km, 8-10 hours.
- Arica and Iquique - Chile - via Pisiga, on the border, 10-14 hours.
Oruro has a small airport, for small aircrafts only.
Book a hotel in Oruro. If traveling on a budget, some inexpensive options include...
- Alojamiento Rosen, 21 de Enero street, No. 240.
- Alojamiento Copacabana, Velasco Galvarro street.
- Hostal Graciela, Herrera street, No.47.