Tour: Jesuit Missions (4 days, from Santa Cruz)

After 300 years, the Bolivian Jesuit missions are the only remaining mission sites of the Society of Jesus in South America. In 7 of the 10 main localities of the Chiquitanía region, you can still admire buildings from the missionary period, such as San José, Santa Ana, San Rafael, San Miguel, San Ignacio, Concepción and San Javier. In 1991 the Bolivian Jesuit missions were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In their days, the Chiquitanía missions were the main site of the Jesuit activity in the New World. Their main function was to convert the various nomadic tribes of the region to Christianity. For this purpose, so-called “asentamientos de indios convertidos” (settlements of converted indians) were created, where the Jesuits attempted to introduce these populations to Western religion, civics and art. The missions were all built between 1691 and 1760. The architecture of the baroque churches featured massive hand carved wooden altars often covered in gold, paintings, wooden pulpits, and impressive wooden columns. The churches, restored from the 70s to 90s under the direction of the Swiss architect Hans Roth and later Juan Carlos Ruiz, have recovered much of their original splendor.

Itinerary

First day: Drive to the Jesuit Mission of San Javier, visit of the mission church and museum, continue to Concepción

In the morning, pick up at the hotel in Santa Cruz, drive in private transport to San Javier, and take a tour of the mission town. San Javier is located 230 km from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in the province of Ñuflo de Chávez. The San Francisco Xavier Mission was the first Jesuit mission established in the Chiquitanía. It was founded in 1691 by Father José de Arce and Brother Antonio Ribas. The priests themselves built a music school here and set up a workshop for the production of musical instruments. The most important sight in San Javier is undoubtedly the baroque church built by Father Martin Schmid between 1749 and 1752. It was completely restored from 1987 to 1993 under the direction of the Swiss architect Hans Roth, bringing back the former splendor of the columns decorated with typical carvings and the wall paintings in yellow and brown tones on the inside and outside walls. In the afternoon continue to Concepcion. On the way, a short stop at "Las Piedras del Paquió", 30 km outside of San Xavier, here you can see one of the most beautiful rock formations in the Chiquitano mountains. Arrival in Concepcion in the evening, overnight in Concepcion. (-/L/D)

Second day: Visit to the mission church and museum in Concepción and the Zapoco water reservoir, continue to San Ignacio de Velasco

In the morning, tour of the town in Concepción. Concepción is the capital of Ñuflo de Chávez province and lies 290 km northeast of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Concepción was officially founded in 1708. From a geomorphological point of view, the town already belongs to the Brazilian shield (Escudo Brasilero). The area is crisscrossed by hills that extend from the Brazilian state of Matto Grosso to the area of Concepción. The baroque Jesuit church of Concepción is considered a jewel. It was built in 1752/53 under the direction of Father Martin Schmid. After more than 200 years it was restored in 1975 by the Swiss architect Hans Roth. In addition to the church, the Mission Museum, which is housed in the birthplace of former Bolivian President Hugo Banzer Suárez, is also worth a visit. On display are photographs that document the restoration process of the mission churches of the Chiquitanía, as well as columns decorated with typical carvings, original capitals, fragments from wall paintings and other decorated works of art. In a small adjacent shop, visitors will find typical handicrafts for sale. Afterwards, a short visit to the Sapocó reservoir surrounded by tropical vegetation, gives you the possibility of a refreshing swim. Continue your journey to San Ignacio de Velasco. Overnight stay in San Ignacio de Velasco (B/L/D).

Third day: Visit to the mission villages of San Miguel, San Rafael und Santa Ana, return to San Ignacio de Velasco

San Ignacio de Velasco is a great starting point for excursions to the missions of San Miguel, San Rafael and Santa Ana, where there are still no good accommodation options. In the morning, drive to San Miguel first. San Miguel was founded in 1721 by the Jesuits under the official name San Miguel Arcángel at a distance of 39km from San Ignacio de Velasco. San Miguel is rich in traditions and legends and has largely preserved its culture to date, due to the reduced influence from outside. The most important building in San Miguel is of course the church. Located on the main square, it was completed in 1760 and fully restored at the end of the 20th century as part of the restoration work in the Jesuit missions. The unique gold-plated altar and its filigree carvings certainly deserve special attention. While walking through the village of San Miguel, you will see some old well-preserved mudbrick houses with roofs made of palm leaves. You can also visit a wood carver who allows you to take a look at his workshop - the wood carvers from San Miguel are considered to be the best in of the region. Then continue to San Rafael. San Rafael was founded in 1696 and is 75 km from San Ignacio de Velasco on the Río Gaubys. San Rafael was the second mission built by the Jesuits in the Chiquitanía. The church of San Rafael is one of the most impressive churches in the Chiquitania, sporting a roof which was built in 1747 by Father Martin Schmid. The roof structure is clearly different from all other mission churches. Thanks to the restoration, the huge linen paintings in the sacristy and the carved furniture embedded in the nave are well preserved. The pulpit covered with silver-colored mica shows a portrait of Saint San Rafael, and the altar is covered with pink mica. In the afternoon, visit Santa Ana de Velasco, 40 km from San Ignacio. Santa Ana was one of the last missions to be established in the Chiquitanía. It was founded in 1755, only twelve years before the Jesuits were expelled from the region. Construction of the church was in the starting stages when the Jesuits were driven out of the area, so the indigenous community decided to finish it on their own. For the reasons mentioned, this church has more rural characteristics and is smaller in comparison to the other churches. But it contains many authentic local features, and the only organ of the mission churches, so a visit to the Church of Santa Ana de Velasco is undoubtedly an experience. The Church of Santa Ana was the first to be restored after UNESCO declared the Jesuit Missions a World Heritage Site. In the evening return to San Ignacio de Velasco. Overnight in San Ignacio de Velasco (B/L/D).

Fourth day: Drive to San José de Chiquitos, visit of Valle de la Luna and the viewpoint "Mirador Laguna Letei"

Today you drive from San Ignacio to San José de Chiquitos. San José was founded by the Jesuits in 1697, in a region where the Jamaró and Piñoca indigenous peoples previously settled. The town is located near the Riquió mountains. In the afternoon you enjoy an excursion into the surrounding area to the archeological site of Parque Nacional Histórico "Santa Cruz La Vieja". The park was founded in 1989 and protects 172 km² of land, which harbors the overgrown remains and foundations of the original site of the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It was founded here in 1561 by the Spanish captain Ñuflo de Cháves, but was moved in 1592 to its current location 250 km away. The region’s impressive landscape is also home to many endemic plant species, as well as a large number of birds and mammals. A nature trail leads you through the Valle de Luna and to the viewpoint at Laguna Letei, where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the sunset at the edge of the Meseta. Overnight in San Jose de Chiquitos (B/L/D).

Fifth day: Visit of the mission church and museum in San Jose de Chiquitos. Return to Santa Cruz the afternoon

In the morning you do a tour of San Jose de Chiquitos. The Church of San José is the only one in the Bolivian Jesuit Missions built entirely of stone. Its style is based on the typical mission buildings in Paraguay and northern Argentina. Built by local artisans under the supervision of the Jesuit Fathers, it was built in 1748 and is a very good example of Spanish architecture brought to South America by the Society of Jesus. In the afternoon return to Santa Cruz. (F/M/-) - END OF OUR SERVICES

The package includes

- Private transport
- English-speaking guide to/from Santa Cruz
- 4x overnight stay in DBL room
- Meals according to program (B= breakfast; L= lunch; D= Dinner)
- All entrance fees

Reservation

Please do not hesitate to contact us for price requests, reservation, general question, and individual tour inquiries, at: contact(at)landmarktravelbolivia.com

Link

https://www.landmarktravelbolivia.com/jesuiten-missionen

Javascript is required to view this map.

Advertisement

Tour operator Bolivia

High quality tours & customized tour packages in Bolivia

Berghotel Carolina

Mountain Lodge at the foot of Cerro Tunari (5035m) - Cochabamba

Exclusive tours

Discover the majestic Salar de Uyuni on most innovative routes.

Google Ads