Today these ruins are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stopped by for a visit on our way back from a trip to Brazil. Instead of going back the way we came we decided to take a slight detour and do some sightseeing in Argentina. It was well worth the trip.
There are altogether 4 Jesuit Missions in Argentina, but unfortunately, we only had time to see one, and this was the San Ignacio Mission.
This mission was built by the Jesuits in 1633.
The mission was designed and maintained by the Jesuits. I once served as a center of protection as well as the development for the Guarani people who were in constant danger from the menacing Portuguese bandeiras and slave traders.
The layout of the Mission is an interesting one. It consisted of a huge Baroque church leading into a massive courtyard which was surrounded by a monastery, housing as well as administrative buildings. At one time the mission even housed a printing press, which was used to print materials in the Guarani language.
The mission was active and thrived until the late 1750s, when the Guarani war, during which time the buildings were severely damaged by fire, and the subsequent expulsion of the Jesuit Order from Argentina, resulted in the place being abandoned.
Sadly, only in the 1940s were the ruins rediscovered and eventually became protected as a world heritage site. Today one can visit what is left of the ruins, which sadly is not too much. The churches original foundations can still be seen, and from these, one can only deduct that the church must have been a massive structure once. The walls, or what remains of them are up to two meters in thickness. The red sandstone from which everything was build comes from the surrounding area. Fortunately, some of the original carvings on the main portals can be still be seen today.
The site is well documented in a variety of languages and what is left of it today is being preserved with great care. During our visit we observed some restoration work being done. The site is not that expansive and 1 – 2 hours is adequate time for a visit unless you are like me and want to take photos of every corner and every detail just in case you miss something, lol.
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