Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba
The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba are religious, educational and agricultural developments by the Society of Jesus between 1604 and 1767. Together they form the origins and the core of the missionary activities of the Jesuits in South America.
In Córdoba proper, the Jesuits were allocated one of the blocks in the checkerboard plan of the city, like the other orders (Franciscan, Dominican). This grew into the core of their mission, with a university (Colégio Maximo) based on Jesuit teachings, a college and a church that also held the Jesuit political/administrative bodies.
The rural estancias were to provide the necessary resources by farming and textile production. Irrigation systems, factories and mills were constructed to let them flourish economically (which they did).
The five included Estancias in the Province of Córdoba are:
- Alta Gracia
- Santa Catalina
- Jesus Maria
Visit October 2008
Every trip has its day or location where one feels to have hit rock bottom (at least my trips do). This time the honour goes to: Cordoba! I didn't like Cordoba at all - it's a working city crumbling at all edges. I had the worst hotel of my stay, and even the worst food (which is difficult in Argentina). I was shortchanged by a taxi driver here for the first time this trip (but was alert enough to see his trick, returning 2 pesos instead of 20).
I did a quick visit to the Jesuit Block in the city center. It is located in the pedestrian area, among other more colourful churches. The WHS designated buildings all have displays telling some of their history. They are now in use as a regular University and Church. You can have a look inside, but I wasn't overwhelmed.
To escape the bad city vibes I took a local bus to Alta Gracia, one of the estancias included. The driver dropped me off at what I first thought was a nice city park with a lake, but turned out to be the tajamar, the water reservoir constructed by the Jesuits for irrigation. At the other end of the park is the pretty Baroque church. And next to that, El Obraje: a former mill that now is a school (where kids took classes half in the open). Well, that was about it. I hope others can write more imaginative stories about the Jesuit Block and Estancias than I can.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
I visit this site twice and i as the "Justification for Inscription" said "The Jesuit buildings and ensembles of Córdoba and the estancias are exceptional examples of the fusion of European and indigenous values and cultures during a seminal period in South America. The religious, social, and economic experiment carried out in South America for over 150 years by the Society of Jesus produced a unique form of material expression, which is illustrated by the Jesuit buildings and ensembles of Córdoba and the estancias".
The main church in Córdoba city was built as a ship, and was one of the wonder of than time in the area. The "estancias" are fines examples of Barroco local stile. In Alta Gracia we saw also a Che Guevara´s house museum, and Manuel Falla´s house.
For me is a very interesting site, i a marvellous area.
| Date posted: September 2010|
|Iain Jackson (Scotland UK):|
I visited this site in January 2003. The weather was warm and sunny for the 3 days I was in the area.
I went first to Alta Gracia, tumbling off the overnight bus from Buenos Aires which, confusingly, goes first to Cordoba before heading back south to Alta Gracia. It is a charming small town,home of Che Guevara for several years, with the estancia at its heart next to the Tajamar, the artificial lake built to provide water to the surrounding lands.
The estancias have a similar layout, built round a large yard with one side dominated by a church. They lie at the centre of the large estates, the income from which, and from the associated trades and crafts, was used to finance the building and development of the Jesuit block in Cordoba
It was only when I got to Cordoba that I realised that the "block"(or Manzana-"apple"?) in this case is the large city block allocated to the Jesuits when the city was laid out.
Cordoba, like so many Spanish colonial cities is built on a gridiron pattern. Aside from the, to be expected, religious buildings the principal use of the Block is for the University, the oldest in Argentina. Some handsome buildings here.
I reckoned Candelaria, 220kms from Cordoba, and with no public transport links, was beyond my reach, but next day I took a guided tour by minibus to the 3 other estancias. All had their own attractions. Santa Catalina is said to be the largest and the only one now in private ownership. Access is allowed only to its white painted, lofty church. Jesus Maria dates from 1618, is famed for its wine and has an excellent Jesuit Museum. Lastly Caroya has a picturesque rural setting its beauty enhanced, when I was there, by the late afternoon sunlight slanting across its buildings.
In my view this is a site well worthy of its status and, for those of us who like to get a bit off the beaten track, one that amply rewards the visitor.
| Date posted: July 2008|
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