|Bolivia's Church of the Immaculate Conception|
The Jesuit church of Concepcion dominates the town's cobblestone main square. Its orange and yellow images of saints and ornate flower designs painted on the facade glow in the full splendour of 18th century architecture. On a starry night, recalling the days of Jesuit evangelisation a few centuries ago, a sonata for double violin by Domenico Zipoli resonates inside the huge church. A baroque ensemble of young players is serenading international visitors who have come to this remote Bolivian jungle town of almost 19,000 inhabitants to learn what makes the Chiquitania so unique. Here we can feel transported to 350 or 400 years ago, because people in these missions still maintain their original culture. Geovani Gisler Brazilian delegate, Until their expulsion in 1767, Jesuit missionaries spent almost 80 years converting the local indigenous people to Christianity. They also established missions in what is now Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. But whereas the churches in neighbouring countries are just ruins today, the missions in Bolivia have preserved the Jesuit cultural and artistic living legacy. In 1990, six of these missions were declared worthy of protection by the United Nations' cultural organisation, Unesco.
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