First mission in the Chiquitania.
Founded in 1691 by the Jesuit Missionaires Jose de Arce and Antonio de Rivas, it´s the oldest mission in the Chiquitania region. It was relocated after a bloody war between the Piñocas (a local tribe and the first inhabitants) and the Bandeirantes (Portugese slave traders. and setting into it´s present one in 1708. The mission has a beautiful baroque façade located in front of a pleasant park surrounded by colonial style houses.
The mission beautiful façade is decorated with architectural patterns, (is less coloristic that the one in Concepcion), but the paintings make a fantastic contrast. The roof is made of wood with some carving details and two big carved columns (each carved out of a single tree) supporting it. There are two arches protecting the façade, decorated in the same style.
I made the entrance to the church by a side door, the main one was closed, and found a beautiful courtyard, surrounded by a large square corridor decorated in the similar baroque style. In the center of the courtyard there´s an old and restored sun clock.
The church has two chapels, a small one on the left and a bigger one on the right. If you enter from the courtyard you will find the right chapel. Beautifully decorated it´s connected to the main Altar through a door, and was used by the jesuist as a preparation room before the mass celebration. There are some statues of angels, and two arches that offers a different angle view of the main altar.
The church consist of a wooden skeleton with columns that support a roof made of wood covered with tiles. The Indian Baroque altar include depictions of Jesuist together with indiands, saints, madonnas carved in wood and then painted.
A masterpiece of indigenous Baroque art, this colorful altar is interesting because it shows the interaction between the Jesuist and the indians. The whole mision was restored by the German architect Hans Roth using local craftsmen, creating a revival of local traditions and a qualified workforce. I visited some of the workshops in the mission of Concepción, where i could see some copies of the original works of art of the mission made by these artists.
The Jesuist were very creative and proud of their music, thousands of original music pages were found in missions as in Concepcion. Actually a Baroque Music Festival that is performed in front of the missions is performed every two years. During my visit to the mission i could enjoy some of practices of the young local choir.
Walking the town.
Today San Xavier is a small and dusty town of 11,000 inhabitants and the first stop for the traveller who wants to make the Jesuitic Mission Circuit. So it´s a great place for hang out through the empty streets, or spend a nice afternoon in the park enjoying the Bolivian rural way of life.
Façade detail. Arches.
A detail of the the two arches that protects the main facade, also decorated using the same baroque patterns.
As in other missions in the area San Xavier has also one, but it was constructed inside the mission complex not outside. The staircase is made of wood with five hanging bells, ready to call for mass.
Chapel detail. Angel.
This angel statue is a good example of the original mixture of the Indian and European baroque style.
Located in the right of the church near the main door, this chapel guides to a small garden with rooms used for administration pourposes, it´s actually a small museum.