El Alto is Home to Bolivia’s Quirkiest, Most Colorful Buildings

Photo by Jose David on Unsplash

El Alto is the second-largest city in Bolivia, but we don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it before. Tourists and architecture lovers started falling in love with this city only recently, after discovering that the architect Freddy Mamani gave its streets a colorful transformation.

Before Mamani decided to give El Alto a total makeover, this city was best known as the highest major metropolis in the world, with an average elevation of 4,000 meters. Its streets looked quite bleak before this artist came into the picture and turned the city into the vibrant oasis it is today.

The type of buildings that started popping up all over El Alto thanks to Mamani is known as “cholets”. They draw inspiration from indigenous folklore and are mostly built in the Neo-Andean architectural style, giving us some major Wes Anderson vibes due to their colorful façades and quirky look.

Mamani’s buildings often feature three floors, dedicated to different kinds of activities, from commercial to residential. El Alto is currently home to over 70 buildings that he designed, and they have been credited to significantly boosting the tourism industry in this Bolivian city.