Population: 6000 Altitude: 2,030m (6,660 ft) Phone code: 3
The town of Vallegrande is best known as the site where Che Gueveraâ€™s remains were discovered in 1997. Although his body has been moved to Cuba, Vallegrande still remains a focal point for those who idolize the leftist leader. However, the history of town goes back much farther than that. It was founded in 1612 under the name of Ciudad de JesĂşs y Montes Claros de los Caballeros del Vallegrande. It was created as a fort against the Guarani warriors who dominated what was the frontier at that time. However, many of the original inhabitants were Sephardic Jews who had converted to Catholicism. However, the Spanish Inquisition suspected them of continuing to be secret Jews. As a result of the persecution, the converted Jews fled to South America.
The town grew into a city in the 18th and 19th centuries largely because the town served as a transit point between Santa Cruz and the nearby mining areas. The townâ€™s population grew to about 25,000, before declining to todayâ€™s population of about 6,000. Most of area is supported by agricultureâ€”with fruits, grains and corn forming the cornerstone of the local economy. From these, you can also find great breads, liquors, and even preserves at the local market.
Today, much of the townâ€™s tourist industry is built around its connection with ChĂ©. People come from around the world to pay homage to the fallen leader. His remains were discovered on the airstrip in the town. He was apparently buried there after being executed in the nearby town of La Higuera thirty earlier. It is hard to escape the image of Che in Vallegrande. Most shops sell posters, shirt, key chains and other souvenirs with him images. Even in most restaurants and hotels, images of â€śSaint Ernestoâ€ť, as he is called by some of the locals, can be found watching over you.