When the Spanish colonized Bolivia in the mid-1500s, the
indigenous tribes incorporated the Catholic faith into their culture. The
country is home to many unique religious sites that have become popular travel
Cristo de la Concordia
Since the iconic statue of Cristo Redentor — Christ with outstretched arms — was unveiled in 1931 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, other countries have erected their own.
In the capital city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, the Cristo de la
Concordia rests on a mountain peak and, according to Lonely Planet, it stands a little more than 17 inches taller than
Bolivia opened their statue to the public in 1994, allowing visitors to climb inside to view the city in the Andes. Cristo de la Concordia was the largest statue
of Jesus in the world until 2010, when Poland finished its Christ the King
Jesuit missions of Chiquitos
If you remember the 1986 film, “The Mission,” with Robert de Niro
and Jeremy Irons, then you have an idea what the Jesuit missions of Chiquitos look like.
In the 1600s, Jesuit missionaries went to parts of Argentina,
Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia. Through music and other evangelization
efforts, the Jesuits helped nomadic tribes create permanent settlements. In
1767, the Jesuits were expelled from South America, and most of the mission
sites were abandoned. Six
missions in Bolivia withstood the absence of the Jesuits: San Xavier, San
Rafael del Velasco, San José de Chiquitos, Concepción, San Miguel de Velasco
and Santa Ana de Velasco.
In 1972, a former Jesuit renovated the mission sites, restoring
the original colors and unique wood carvings. Today they showcase a fusion of
European and indigenous cultures.
In the lowlands of the Andes sits the tourist town of Tarabuco. On
Sundays, tourists haggle for traditional clothes, blankets and other items in
the open air markets of the remote pueblo. The majority of the town is of
indigenous background and speaks one of Bolivia’s 36 native languages. Mass is celebrated
in the Quecha language, and parishioners decorate crosses with ribbons, flowers
and balloons to be blessed the Sunday before Lent.
Walking through older cities in Bolivia you’ll stumble upon
colonial Spanish-style churches, or passing through Amazonian areas you’ll see
folk celebrations for feast days. No matter where you go in Bolivia you’ll find