Rise and Fall of Potosi mountain El Cerro Rico overlooking the Bolivian city of Potosi, were so rich deposits of silver, which for many generations Spain ensured its existence thanks to the silver mines. Because of the very hazardous working conditions Cerro Rico earned the nickname "the mountain that eats men." Now, after five centuries of silver mining from her bowels, the mountain is on the verge of total destruction. The Cerro Rico is still there silver, and every day thousands of poor residents of Potosi sent into the mines to extract the precious metal. Cerro Rico is now so riddled with holes and shafts, that the mountain could collapse at any moment, burying the city.
Located at an altitude of four thousand meters above sea level, in the shadow of "cursed" Mountain of Potosi - the highest city in the world this scale. It was founded by the Spanish conquistadors, and its unfortunate location due to the sole reason - the presence of deposits of silver. Today the city - only a pale shadow of the majestic Potosi, which in the 1600s was as big as London, but in terms of luxury, even surpassed it in several times.
El Cerro Rico - Rich Hill - always visible from the streets. The Incas knew that this mountain has bare red silver but does not produce it. But the Spaniards, with their inherent greed, immediately got down to business. The local Indians, who were forced to work in mines and thousands died in terrible conditions.
When the silver reserves were depleted, the Spaniards left the city. Potosi survived by tin mining, but now is not the tin is almost worthless. Evidence of the former wealth are collapsing houses, carved stone portals and abandoned monasteries.
Deep in the bowels of the Rich Mountain dusty miners joked with the Devil. Chewing coca leaves in the candlelit tunnel filled with stale air, they gave homage to the small horned figurines host silver hidden in the bowels of the mountain. Miners came to the statue of El Tio - Old Man - every day, leaving around her for good luck drink or a lit cigarette.
"El Tio always loved tobacco, but now he has to be content with cigarette butts, smoked down to the filter," - says one of the miners.
Image Devil in the mine Encarnación was made slaves - Indians, three hundred years ago. The Spaniards forced them to extract silver in Potosi, in the largest South American colonial mines.
Today the miners again come to El Tio. With the collapse of the tin market in 1985, the Bolivian miners re-opened the old mine shafts in the hope of finding the silver remaining after conquistadors.