Jesuits MissionsJesuits Missions

Jesuits Missions

This is a set of various cities built by Jesuits during the 18th century, in the savanna area, between plains and Amazonia, inhabited by the Chiquitos people. Here, time seems to have another measure, its isolation and late rediscovery during the 20th century allow the visitor to go back to the past. Jesuits came first to evangelize and “save souls” of Chiquitos Indians. For this, they made a unique local tongue, gathering all the present languages and, in 75 years, all the others were forgotten, all belief, practice or world conception from the past to catechism have now disappeared. They completely disorganized everything to reorganize then from the beginning the indigenous society inside the “reduccion” (United of populations or small villages), giving to each person a precise role in the social and economic activity. In exchange, Jesuits taught to the different people to improve their agriculture system thanks to techniques coming from Europe, to develop their educative and handmade system such as the wood cutting used to make musical instruments, tissue elaboration, silver work… and above all, they encouraged an amazing cultural development, making this part of Bolivia an important place for the baroque culture. Even nowadays, theatre plays, dance representations, festivals of baroque music stand among the most noticeable on the American continent and compete with the Old Europe. Apart from this cultural effervescence, what it is important to see in the circuit of Jesuits missions are these massive churches made of wood and stones, following the example of Swiss chalets. You can go through the different villages clockwise, which means by bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose, or the opposite, by train from San José, and then by bus between each mission, in direction to Santa Cruz.

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