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Home > JESUIT MISSIONS
The incredible heritage of the « Company of Jesus »

JESUIT MISSIONS
The incredible heritage of the « Company of Jesus »

This trip takes us to the principal missions (or "Reducciones") of the Chiquitania, established by the Jesuits at the end of the seventeenth century. The churches from this era have been beautifully preserved, restored and some even rebuilt; these gems of Baroque architecture have kept the religious and folkloric traditions alive.
As in the region of Moxos (the Bolivian Amazon) and Paraguay, the missionaries here were attempting to create a Utopia: the creation of a "City of God" on earth, and to peacefully convert the indigenous population.
We can see how the missions were able to unify the native people with their different cultures under one religion, one language (the Chiquitano) and a set of common social principles.
When the Missions were established, the nomadic peoples of this area were not only initiated into agriculture, but also in painting, sculpture, music and dance; in all these arts they proved to be most skilful, and demonstrated a spectacular ability in learning. The success of this ambitious project resided in the adherence of indigenous people to the system established by the Jesuits, which embodied both democratic and humanistic qualities. On the one hand, the Jesuits presided over the material and spiritual matters, while internal decisions were taken by a municipal council (Cabildo), which was exclusively constituted of indigenous people. On the other hand, while the main aim of the Reducciones was to evangelize, another was to offer dignified living conditions to the indigenous people. Most of all, we must consider the fact that the missions offered real protection against slave traders, that education was compulsory for children, and that child labour was prohibited.
Note: An International Festival of Baroque music takes place every other year, (even years only) between March and April (dates may vary). This event, which will see its sixth year in 2006, lasts for 12 days and gathers more than 30 groups from all over Bolivia among them, the well-known Urubicha school near Santa Cruz.

Map

Itinerary

  • Day 1: Santa Cruz - Concepción
  • Day 2: Concepción - San Ignacio
  • Day 3: San Ignacio - Santa Cruz

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 1: Santa Cruz - Concepción

Depart from the hotel at 7:00am to drive to Concepción (41/2 hours) by private vehicle. Visit of the church and the museum of Misiones, the birthplace of Hugo Banzer Suarez (ex dictator and a president of Bolivia in 70’s and 90’s). The original handwritten scores which were interpreted in the missions are exhibited in this museum. They were conserved thanks to the indians who kept and transmitted these documents after the jesuits were expelled from the Spain kingdom in 1767.
Walk around the Sapoco lagoon at the end of the day, with the opportunity to swim.







Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), local guide, entrance fees, private transport

Day 2: Concepción - San Ignacio

Departure to San Ignacio de Velasco in the morning (3 1/2 hours on dirt tracks). We will then continue on a loop to discover the Missions Santa Ana, San Rafael and San Miguel before returning to San Ingnacio de Velasco at the end of the day.


Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), local guide, private transport

Day 3: San Ignacio - Santa Cruz

Visit of the church and the Mission’s museum in the morning, which was the birth place of the General Hugo Banzer (dictator then President of Bolivia in the 70th and the 90th). Lunch in Concepción. Return to San Javier and to Santa Cruz late in the afternoon.
Included : room & breakfast, lunch (no drinks), local guide, private transport

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