The churches of Chloe are a classic example of blending of European culture and Latin American ecclesiastical wooden architecture. The tradition of building churches had been initiated by the Jesuit Peripatetic Mission in the 17th and 18th century. The culture was continued by the Franciscans in the 19th century.
The churches are testimony to the historical richness of the Chloe Archipelago and good historical study sample. The archipelago extends all the way to the Chacao Canal in the Corcovado Gulf. It showcases the sedentary way of life – which survived from mixed farming and fishing.
The archipelago was discovered by the Spanish explorers in the 16th century, but colonization would only start much later in the 1567 when the towns of Santiago de Castro and Chacao were founded by Martin Ruiz de Gamboa.
From the year 1608 onwards, the Society of Jesus began evangelizing the archipelago by building churches, schools and later establishing the colonies. By 19th century, over 100 churches had been built, and about 50 to 60 of these survive to this day. 14 of these churches are World Heritage Sites. They are listed below:
- Achao (Quinchao)
- Rilán (Castro)
- Nercón (Castro)
- Aldachildo (Puqueldón)
- Ichuac (Puqueldón)
- Detif (Puqueldón)
- Vilipulli (Chonchi)
- Tenaún (Quemchi)
- Colo (Quemchi)
- San Juan (Dalcahue)
The churches’ heritage to Chile cannot be gainsaid. They feature such architectural styles as Classicism, Renaissance and Baroque. They are classic works of master masons, carpenters and artists. They feature an outstanding example of how the Spaniards that settled into the local way of life and even blended their architectural styles to the local architecture in order to suit the weather and local culture. The fact that some of these wooden structures are still standing is testimony to the architectural mastery of the Early European settlers in Chile.
If you are yet to visit this historical region, then you have been missing out on one of the greatest historical destinations in Latin America. The destination is not even costly. All you are supposed to do is get there with a good map and you can do the exploration without engaging the services of a professional tour guide. Chile is one of the safest countries in the world with a burgeoning middle class that sees tourists as good for business. Put this place on your next South American tour itinerary.