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    EXPLORE

    The ruins of a Baroque-inspired church, illuminated in the dark, are a complete architectural complex.
    The ruins of the São Miguel Arcanjo church bear witness to an incredible adventure, a touching story…

    Time Travel along the Missions’ Road

    1608 | A handful of Spanish Jesuit priests set out to convert the indigenous Tupi-Guarani people by establishing missions. Interestingly and importantly, the missionaries preserved the indigenous culture and language. As a result, this religious, economic and socio-cultural experience was unprecedented in the history of these peoples.

    1687 | Indigenous communities and European Jesuit missionaries settle in São Miguel Arcanjo, after two attempts in other places.

    Around 1720 | At its peak, there were 30 missions and some 150,000 natives spread across Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. According to Spanish writer Manuel Marzal, summarizing the views of several researchers, these missions were one of the most remarkable utopias in history.

    1735 | Construction of the São Miguel Arcanjo church began and lasted over 10 years. Baroque in inspiration and built of sandstone, it was designed by an Italian Jesuit architect. All Jesuit missions were designed according to the same model, with the natives’ houses evenly spaced around a large central square. However, the success of the missions and their great autonomy were perceived as a threat by the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies.

    1750 | The Treaty of Madrid placed the missions’ territory under the control of the Portuguese government. The Tupi-Guarani peoples were no longer protected from slavery. Deprived of their land, the natives united with some missionaries in revolt. The Guarani War broke out.

    1756 | A Spanish-Portuguese army attacked the missions and this unique social experiment ended tragically.

    1983 | UNESCO World Heritage listing: “InBrazil, the ruins of the São Miguel Arcanjo church constitute the most intact and complete structure among this period’s designated heritage properties.”

    To learn more, visit Roteiros Turisticos e Esportivos das Missões.

    Imposing tree roots grow through the ruins of an old stone foundation.
    In addition to the church, the São Miguel Arcanjo mission also contains remains of the convent, native dwellings, vegetable garden and rainwater collectors.

    Imposing cactus grow inside the ruins of an old stone house.
    Such archaeological sites are crucial historical references for the present and future development of local communities.

    A road runs alongside some exotic trees and passes under a large arch decorated with three native and religious sculptures.
    Today, a pilgrimage network offers different itineraries on foot, by bike and by car to discover the richness of the Missions’ Road.

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