Located on the serene shores of Lake Titicaca on the western border of Bolivia, Copacabana is a gem among gems. This shore side city hosts a wide range of activities in an environment that will take a person back to the Spanish conquests and the Incan civilization. Copacabana was started as an Incan outpost; one of many hundreds scattered throughout South America. The Incas prized this outpost in particular because of the oracle and ancient shrine that had a place on the island of Titicaca in the middle of the lake. The Incas worshipped here and held the island close to their heart. At that time, Copacabana was called Aymara by the Incans, meaning “view of the lake”. Only after the Spanish arrived was it called Copacabana.
When the Spanish began to settle the island and Copacabana in 1534, the Incas vanished, and a new reign was about to descend upon the countryside. The Spanish and Dominicans made Copacabana a place of worship and built several missions around the city. They set out to destroy the heresy that was the Incan religion, and built the Basilica of Our Lady Copacabana in the center of the town, built in the rustic style of most Spanish missions, like the Alamo, for example. Through the years, Incans and Spanish began to mesh and settled the town together. The Basilica of Our Lady Copacabana still stands to this day, despite desecration and destruction during the revolts and fights for independence against Spain.
One of the sons of an Incan ruler was taken aback by a statue of the Virgin Mary that he saw in a chapel and set out to make one of his own. He built a beautiful statue that became known all around South America. Many people thought that it had special powers, and it was made the protectress of the city. The statue is still on display in a special chapel outside the city walls.
The lands around Copacabana, having once been a prime location in Incan civilization, are still steeped with ruins and temples that give a compelling look back into the nation’s history. Temples and shrines are located all around the hills and mountains outside of the city gates.
Copacabana is still a very religious and spiritual place. Lake Titicaca is still known as a religious and holy lake, causing hundreds of festivals and religious ceremonies to be performed on its shores every year. There are still many Incan ceremonies performed for guests and Catholic festivals occur on special days every year. There are numerous sites from both Incan and the Spanish periods that attract thousands of people every year. The Cavalry Hills was built for pilgrims to the lake in the 1950s and is lined with fourteen Stations of the Cross. The Basilica of Our Lady Copacabana is still a prominent figure in the center of the city. Religious monuments still stand on Isle de Sol. All of these, along with the numerous shops and stores, make Copacabana a very religious, historical, and beautiful getaway
Thinking to Copacabana Bolivia? If you are flying you will be arriving at El Alto International Airport, the Worlds Highest Commercial Airports and South America’s Highest Commercial Airport.
Driving from El Alto or La Paz Bolivia to Copacabana will take take about 2 hours and 20 minutes for the 98 mile around the southern portion of Lago Titicaca.