Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba (Argentina)

Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba (Argentina)

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 21:05
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The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba are a former Jesuit reduction (mission) built by missionaries in the province of Córdoba, Argentina. A World Heritage Site since 2000, the Manzana Jesuítica contains the University of Córdoba, one of the oldest in South America.

Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba

The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba are a former Jesuit reduction (mission) built by missionaries in the province of Córdoba, Argentina. The Manzana Jesuítica contains the University of Córdoba, one of the oldest in South America.

The 38 ha (94 acres) ensemble of the Jesuit Block and five of its estancias (rural farming and manufacturing establishments) are located near the geographical center of Argentina. 

A World Heritage Site since 2000, the ensemble contains the core buildings of the capital of the former Jesuit Province of Paraguay: the church, the Jesuit priests’ residence, the university, and the Colegio Convictorio de Montserrat.

The Jesuit Block illustrates the fusion of European and Native American cultures, along with contributions from African slave laborers, during a seminal period in South America. Each Estancia has its church and set of buildings, around which towns grew.

The Jesuit Block contains 17th and 18th-century religious and secular buildings that illustrate an unprecedented 150-year-long religious, social, and economic experiment. The University of Córdoba, one of the oldest in South America, is found here as well as the Monserrat Secondary School, a church and residence buildings.

The farm and the complex started in 1615 and had to be left by the Jesuits, following the 1767 decree by King Charles III of Spain that expelled them from the continent. They were then run by the Franciscans until 1853 when the Jesuits returned to the Americas. Nevertheless, the university and the high school were nationalized a year later.

The core buildings comprise:

  • Alta Gracia (located 36 km or 22 mi from the Block)

  • Santa Catalina (70 km or 43 mi from the Block)

  • Jesús María (48 km or 30 mi from the Block)

  • La Candelaria (220 km or 137 mi from the Block)

  • Caroya (44 km or 27 mi from the Block)

The Jesuit Block’s supporting estancias each included a church or chapel, priests’ residence, ranches for slaves and indigenous peoples, work areas (camps, mills, beating mills, etc.), hydraulic systems (breakwaters, irrigation ditches, canals, etc.), farmhouses, and large extents of land for cattle breeding.

The Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba is an example of a vast religious, political, economic, legal, and cultural system. It is likewise an excellent illustration of the fusion of European and Native American cultures, with the added contributions of African slave laborers, during a seminal period in South America.

The ensemble is a particular example of territorial organization, an economic complement between urban and rural settlements that allowed the Society of Jesus to pursue its educational and missionary goals.

The outstanding nature of this ensemble is illustrated by the convergence of two typologies: on the one hand, the European convent layout, with a main church, residence, and college in the city; and on the other, novel rural settlements, where the church, residence, and trading post merged in a productive and interrelated territory.