Churches of Chiloe – UNESCO Heritage in Chile



The Churches of Chiloé represent a unique example in Latin America of an outstanding form of ecclesiastical wooden architecture. They represent a tradition initiated by the Jesuit Peripatetic Mission in the 17th and 18th centuries, continued and enriched by the Franciscans during the 19th century and still prevailing today. These churches embody the intangible richness of the Chiloé Archipelago, and bear witness to a successful fusion of indigenous and European culture, the full integration of its architecture in the landscape and environment, as well as to the spiritual values of the communities. In 2000, listed in UNESCO Heritage list.


Located in the central eastern zone of the archipelago.

About Churches of Chiloé

1. In the Chiloé archipelago off the coast of Chile are about 70 churches built within the framework of a “Circular Mission” introduced by the Jesuits in the 17th century and continued by the Franciscans in the 18th and 19th centuries.

2. The most exceptional illustrations of this unique form of wooden ecclesiastical architecture (the so-called Chilota School of architecture) are the churches of Achao, Quinchao, Castro, Rilán, Nercón, Aldachildo, Ichuac, Detif, Vilupulli, Chonchi, Tenaún, Colo, San Juan, Dalcahue, Chellín and Caguach. These sixteen churches are outstanding examples of the successful fusion of European and indigenous cultural traditions. The abilities of the people of Chiloé as builders achieved its highest expression in these wooden churches, where farmers, fishermen and sailors exhibited great expertise in the handling of the most abundant material in this environment, wood.

3. The Churches of Chiloé are outstanding examples of the successful fusion of European and indigenous cultural traditions to produce a unique form of wooden architecture.

4. The mestizo culture resulting from Jesuit missionary activities in the 17th and 18th centuries has survived intact in the Chiloé archipelago, and achieves its highest expression in the outstanding wooden churches.

5. The Churches of Chiloé present a high degree of authenticity in terms of their forms and designs, materials and substances, and locations and settings. Their architectural forms, materials and building systems constitute the zenith of a typological evolution, and have been preserved without substantive changes. Their function as places of worship has also been preserved. Interventions have retained all the richness of the typologies of connections, joints and fittings; period technology has been recovered and applied; and exceptional combinations of connections of a deeply local and singular character have been discovered. The traditions, techniques and management systems have been maintained, as have the essential conditions of the sites.

Best Time to Visit

If you are planning a Travel to Chile then the best time to visit is November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere). Although you’ll compete with heavy crowds during this peak season.


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