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Churches of Chiloé

Churches of Chiloé
The Churches of Chiloé were placed on the list because of their unique form of wooden architecture and the mestizo culture they represent.

The arrival of the Jesuits (1608) to this archipelago gave it its special mark. Groups of missionaries would travel around the islands, staying for a few days here and there. In each zone they would build chapels, looked after by laymen.
Currently, in Chiloé there are sixty churches that belong to the typology called Chilota School of Religious Architecture on Wood.

Visit March 2002

Wasn't it for the World Heritage List, I would never have heard of this place. It's left out often of Chile itineraries. Chiloe is a green island, or actually a number of islands, with a distinct culture and history.

During my Chile trip I stayed in Chiloe for a few days, both in Castro and Ancud, its main towns. I ate a lot of fish in little harbour restaurants. Salmon features prominently on the menu, for about five dollar you can have a delicious meal.

My most precious memories are of the day I spent driving around the islands, looking for old or remarkable churches. I picked up a Czech hitchhiker on the way, who was much better informed about the churches than I. I think we found six that day, in hidden towns at the end of gravel roads. You can see them, and more, in the Chiloe picture gallery on this website.


Fernando (Dominican Republic (residing in Seattle)):
I too only learned of Chiloé through the UNESCO website. On a recent trip to Chile a friend and me visited as many of the churches as we could while based in the beautiful "city" of Ancud. The churches' designs are surprisingly sophisticated and beautiful. These things were built with love and care. You should go.

Important: as with most UNESCO sites: pay attention to the area surrounding it - they make the best part of the trip! Chilotas* were friendly and their food delicious (try the traditional Curanto!) and their culture rich in myths and legends; some of them downright diabolical. I found it odd, but I realized that any area that has such a huge religious presence begets a reaction. This, however, I only found in the booklets with traditional myths and stories that you'll see in every park.

*Initially "locals" seemed a tad unfriendly and dry (although not rude) until we started meeting native Chilotas who complained that these people are from other regions and give Chilotas a bad name.
Date posted: June 2012
damien (France):
Churches from Chiloe are so special for me. I adopted my two daughters in Achao village. During both adption procedure, I spent a lot of time to visit them, especially Achao, Quinchao and Dalcahue, Castro.. in 92 and 94.
Date posted: October 2005

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Site info

Churches of Chiloé
Country: Chile
Inscribed: 2000
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (2) (3)
Category: Religious structure, Christian

Site history:
2000 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Monumentos Chile
»Chiloe and its churches

In the news:
» ICOMOS looks at visual impact of Mall in Castro (12-02-2014).

Related links:
Not available

Related Forum posts:
Not available

Getting there

This WHS has 16 location(s).


Gothic Revival . Italian Architects outside Italy . Vernacular architecture . Wooden architecture .
Octagons .
Hit by Tsunami .
Pacific Ocean . Patagonia .
Fusion .
Individual People
Charles Darwin .
Religion and Belief
Catholic missions . Jesuits .
Built in the 17th century .
WHS on Other Lists
World Monuments Watch (past) .

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