Churches

The most impressive churches in Chile can be found on the archipelago of Chiloé. In fact, their historical and architectural value has led to the creation of a tourist circuit that focuses on the 16 churches that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Built mainly by Jesuits in the 18th century using local wood and shingles, some are brightly colored and others feature unique representations of saints. For example, the Achao Church was built without a single nail and is the oldest such structure on the archipelago. The Castro Church showcases elements of neo-Gothic style while the Quinchao Church is the oldest on the circuit and offers a glimpse into Chiloé's colonial history.

The country's northern area is known for churches that reflect the culture of the altiplano. Parinacota Church, which is made of adobe and stone, is particularly impressive because of its bell tower and murals that date back to the 18th century.

The small town of Chiu Chiu is home to one of the most beautiful churches in the country. The San Francisco Church reflects the culture of the Atacama region and is known for its roof, which is made from regional cacti. San Pedro de Atacama's colonial church is white and made from adobe.

While you're in Santiago, visit the Plaza de Armas and its sumptuous Cathedral, a haven of tranquility and history in the capital's bustling downtown area. It was designed by the first Spanish conquistadors and built by architect Antonio Acuña with a façade by Italy's Joaquín Toesca. Nearby San Francisco Church features classic colonial architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries and the icon of the Virgin of Socorro that was brought over by the country's founder, Pedro de Valdivia. The church was built by a Franciscan order hailing from Peru and is home to a colonial art museum with a valuable collection.

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