Mission Church of San Xavier; Fortanono; Atlas Obscura

Bolivia – Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos

This gorgeous, colorful 18th-century church is part of one of Bolivia’s few surviving Jesuit missions.

Enter this 18th-century church, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of bright colors, intricate patterns, and superb architectural details. It’s a feast for the eyes, made possible by a troubling concoction of Old World colonialism and New World traditions.

The church is part of the mission of San Xavier (sometimes also spelled San Javier). The mission was first established in 1691, but moved around a bit before finding its permanent spot in the 18th century. A Swiss Jesuit architect completed the church that still stands today in 1752.

Missions sprouted up across Bolivia during the 17th and 18th centuries. Each one typically featured a church, workshop, and school, all centered around a courtyard. Jesuits sent by the Spanish Crown to explore the South American frontiers created them to convert the indigenous people to Christianity.

Despite their colonial pasts, which sadly involved removing native people from their homes and forcing them to convert, the missions stand as beautiful examples of New World religious architecture.

Source: Mission Church of San Xavier

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