Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos
Jesuit Missions © Bamse
The Jesuit Church sent missionaries to many rural areas of Bolivia in the 16th century in order to 'civilise' and convert indigenous tribes, but by the 18th century they had been expelled by the Spanish government. The churches they built and cultivated have mostly remained active and today many of the vibrant villages are centred around beautiful colonial churches. Some of the most popular mission towns include San Ignacio, Concepción, San Rafael, San Javier, and San José, which are in the Chiquitania region near Santa Cruz. Many local tour operators offer packages that include visits to several villages, all within easy reach of the city.