The ruins of São Miguel das Missões in Brazil, and those of San Ignacio Miní, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa María la Mayor in Argentina, lie at the heart of a tropical forest. They are the impressive remains of five Jesuit missions, built in the land of the Guaranis during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis, a serial transnational property, consists of the ruins of São Miguel Arcanjo in Brazil, and those of San Ignacio Miní, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto, and Santa María la Mayor in Argentina. These are the impressive remains of Jesuit Mission settlements established in the 17th and 18th centuries on lands originally occupied by Guarani indigenous communities.
In Brazil, the ruins of the São Miguel Arcanjo church constitute the most intact and complete structure among this period’s designated heritage properties. In Argentina, the four Jesuit-Guarani Missions, located in the southern Misiones province, provide an exceptional example of systematic and organized territorial occupation.
The properties’ surviving ruins depict the experience of the Society of Jesus in South America, where there emerged a singular system of spatial, economic, social, and cultural relations in 30 settlements – referred to as reducciones – that included ranches, mate plantations, and networks of trails and waterways extending across the Uruguay River and its tributaries.
This particular model of the reducciones also included smaller structures and constructions designed to support the basic functions of the settlements. Together, these elements, each closely integrated within productive lands, and each manifesting the distinct potential and complementary traits of the various settlements and the other Jesuit provinces in the region, inform this underlying interpretation, reflected by the serial heritage property in a singular and specific fashion.
An integral part of the evangelization campaigns, the Missions stand as an important testament to the systematic occupation of the area and to the cultural relations forged between the area’s indigenous populations, mostly Guarani, and the European Jesuit missionaries.