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  • Writer's pictureJacynthe Boudreau

Churches in Chiloé: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sixteen of the traditional churches in Chiloé stand out among all others in the world, they were built around the XVII century during the Spanish spread of the Christian faith in Chile, particularly by the Jesuits.

The Jesuits took on the Circular Mission, which consisted of visiting the archipelago over eight months, building churches. While doing this they encountered Huilliches, Chones, and Spaniards, all inhabitants of the islands. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the Franciscans took over the mission, moving the tradition forward towards more somber techniques with influence from the baroque and neoclassicism.

The European designs, mixed with the local knowledge in ship crafting resulted in this particular style of construction. The buildings have details in the native woods coigüe, mañío, and cypress. To join the pieces they used nails and wooden joints. This strips the myth that these churches were build without using any metal.

All of the churches face east, towards the raising sun, and have a large expanse for procesions and parties (some of them have been converted into squares). They have characteristic fake arches at the entrance, and a bell tower on top.

You can find more information on these churches on the web site of the Fundación Amigos de Las Iglesias de Chiloé.

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