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Visit the historic Jesuit missions
Visit the opulent, restored jesuit mission churches hidden away in the villages of the remote Bolivian interior.
In the early days of the colonisation of the steamy forests and rugged mountains of the remote Bolivian interior the conquistadores failed to subjugate the fierce indigenous tribes. Jesuit missionaries were invited in. They managed to beguile the indians to congregate in settlements (reducciones) clustered around grandiose churches. The opulence of the wooden places of worship, with their intricate carvings and gold leaf, contrasted markedly with the humble homes of the worshippers. The Jesuits also taught the local populations to write and play religious music, some manuscripts of which have only recently been uncovered. A festival of baroque music is held in Concepción biennially, (even number years).
The Jesuits were expelled and the churches fell into disrepair until the 20th century when many of the churches were meticulously restored by the local populations and are now protected by UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Now you can visit the small, isolated rural towns and villages, where most homes are still constructed from adobe and thatch, and the population is predominantly indian. The pitched roofed churches, the bell towers and the cross surrounded by four palms dominate the large grassy main squares, a public space much used by the community for relaxation and even for grazing animals.
Once inside you will be overwhelmed by the richness and intricacy of the interior, the delicate, detailed artwork, often referring to the history of the missions, interweaving their story with that of Christ. Marvel at the gold leaf, the graceful carvings, the sacred ornaments. Each church is distinct from the next; some are simple, others more elaborate. Visit the workshops and see the local people at work, the craft shops, and even maybe a rehearsal for the music festival.
Santa Cruz and the Oriente
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Real Latin America Experts
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.
Evie Oswald - Travel Expert
It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.