Visit the missions of San Javier and Concepción in the Chiquitania, where time seems to have stood still.
Much more than just churches! Beautiful environment, friendly people, a completely different pace of life!
The area of the missions is rich in culture and has a special history. The whole region breaths a special atmosphere, life babbles on quietly. You won't forget a visit to this area. From two days on you can visit the missions.
Other than in Argentina or Paraguay, the churches of the Jesuit Missions in Bolivia are still intact. They are renovated under the architect Hans Roth and they even were declared UNESCO world heritage.
The area of the missions used to be inhabited by tribes that lived as nomads. The Jesuits first established an autonomous religious state in Paraguay and spread from there to -amongst others- the missions in Bolivia. Here they established settlements with two or three priests at the head of each settlement and each settlement got its own army that was reputedly the best trained army of the continent. They protected the area against the Portuguese in Brazil and the Spaniards on the other side.
The Indians profited from living in a settlement while they could escape in this way from the encomienda system (according to what system they were pressed to work in exchange for protection) and slavery.
The Spaniards began to realize that the Jesuits became more and more powerful and in 1767 the missions were dissolute and the Jesuits expelled from the continent.
After the Spaniards found out that the settlements weren't profitable they left, soon followed by the Indians. What remained were ground for agriculture and the fantastic churches that can still be admired.
The Jesuits did not only bring the Indians their religion, but also their culture; they were taught to make and play musical instruments such as harps and violins and to process wood for other purposes.
Once every two years there is a baroque concert in the churches of the missions, which attracts worldwide interest.
Musical instruments and ornaments are still manufactured by hand in this region.
Enjoy the northern Missions route: San Javier, Concepción, Sa. Ana and San Ignacio de Velasco, a little visited region of outstandig beauty.
The unforgettable southern Missions route: to San José de Chiquitos, la Torre de Chochis and Santiago de Chiquitos.
Do the northern Missions route including the very special small missions: San Miguel and San Rafael.
Ending with San José de Chiquitos.
San Javier, Concepción, San Ignacio de Velasco, San Miguel, San Rafael, Sa. Ana, San José de Chiquitos, la Torre de Chochis and Santiago de Chiquitos