Three blocks northeast of the Prado, Plaza Murillo is the traditional centre of La Paz.
Facing the formal gardens of Plaza Murillo is the huge Cathedral, which was built in 1835; the Palacio Presidencial (open to visitors Thu 0900-1200 and 1500-1800) in Italian renaissance style, commonly referred to as the Palacio Quemado, or Burnt Palace, as it has twice been gutted by fire in its stormy history, and, on the east side, the Congreso Nacional.
In front of the Palacio Quemado is a statue of former President Gualberto Villarroel, who was dragged into the plaza by an angry mob and hanged in 1946. Across from the Cathedral, at Calle Socabaya 432and Comercio, is the Palacio de los Condes de Arana, dating from 1775, with a beautiful exterior and courtyard, now the Museo Nacional de Arte (02-2408542, http://www.mna.org.bo, Tue-Sat 0900-1230 and 1500-1900, Sun 0900-1230, US$1.25). It has a fine collection of colonial paintings including works by Melchor Pérez Holguín, one of the masters of Andean colonial art, and also exhibits the works of contemporary local artists.
The streets around Plaza Murillo are lined mostly by buildings dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Running northwest to southeast by the plaza is Calle Comercio where you’ll find many shops; from Plaza Murillo towards Plaza San Francisco it is a pedestrian mall that fills with street vendors selling all kinds of wares.
To the south of Plaza Murillo, on Calle Mercado between Ayacucho and Colón is the impressive-looking Alcaldía Municipal. A block away, on a plazuela at the corner of Calles Comercio and Colón is the church of La Merced.
Northwest of the plaza, on the corner of Calles Ingavi and Yanacocha, is the church of Santo Domingo (originally the cathedral), with its 18th-century façade. Still on Ingavi, at number 916, in the palace of the Marqueses de Villaverde is the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore (T02-240 8640, email@example.com, Mon-Sat 0900-1230 and 1500-1900, Sun 0900-1230, free), renovated 2005-2008. It shows the cultural richness of Bolivia by geographic region, through textiles and other items. It’s worth a visit and has a good library and videoteca. A block away on Genaro Sanjinés corner Indaburo is the Teatro Municipal, the city’s main performing arts centre....