Boliva: Copacabana – Our Lady of Copacabana Cathedral

The small town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia is stunningly beautiful and dates back to the 16th century when the snow-white Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana was built in the town’s center. The churches houses the Virgin of Copacabana, which is a patron saint of Bolivia and beyond. (In fact, when a replica of the Virgin of Copacabana was taken to Rio de Janeiro, it gave the name to the famous Copacabana beach!). The basilica was built near the sight of Inca temple of the sun and was sacred to both Inca and Catholics and remains sacred to the indigenous Aymara Indians. Unlike most Christian churches, it was built with a massive courtyard and small open air temple-like buildings to accommodate and appeal to Incas who worshipped in the open. The main wooden statue of the Virgin of Copacabana is housed in the back hall and, like a Barbie doll, she is dressed every week in a new dress full of gold and silver – there are now thousands of dresses in the church’s collection. Many miracles are attributed to the Virgin and the basilica is one of the most sacred in the entire South America.