Mercado de las Brujas is a market like no other. Located in La Paz, Bolivia, the shopping area is filled with fantastical sights and products you’re not likely to find at your local mall. Often called the La Paz Witches Market, the market offers items needed to perform the traditional ceremonies of the Aymara People. Not everything here is for making magic, however. You’ll also find your share of souvenirs and gifts. Like the capital city itself, the market is a deep reflection of the local culture.
The Aymara People predate the Spanish and the colonial era, and they have kept their culture alive for generations and generations. Indigenous to La Paz and other communities through the Andes, the Aymara have a long tradition of healing and magic. Their leaders, called the Yatiri, serve similar purposes as shamans and witch doctors. They use herbs and other natural elements to create potions and preparations. They also run Mercado de las Brujas, wearing their signature black hats and talismans, including pouches to hold the all-important coca powder.
Nestled in the middle of old town La Paz, the Witches Market is easy to access. It is not far off the beaten path, in fact, many of the La Paz hotels are within walking distance from the one-of-a-kind shopping location. Whether you arrive on foot or by bus, you’ll find some fantastic sights once you get there. The selection of goods includes some traditional magic items, such as frogs and potions. Many of the locals come to the market to buy the fetuses of llamas, which are dried and buried under houses for an offering to the earth goddess Pachamama. Other items for sale are medicinal herbs and good luck charms, designed to change the fortunes of those who purchase them. Some of the merchants also sell items crafted out of alpaca fiber, which makes some of the softest mittens and sweaters you’ll ever find.