Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 1983
Size of heritage:

Longitude: -53,734°
Latitude: -27,457°


The ruins of São Miguel das Missões in Brazil, and those of San Ignacio Miní, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa María la Mayor in Argentina, lie at the heart of a tropical forest. They are the impressive remains of five Jesuit missions, built in the land of the Guaranis during the 17th and 18th centuries. Each is characterized by a specific layout and a different state of conservation.

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The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis, located in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and the Province of Misiones, Argentina, are a UNESCO World Heritage site. This site includes the ruins of five Jesuit missions: San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto, Santa Maria Mayor in Argentina, and Sao Miguel das Missoes in Brazil. These missions were established during the 17th and 18th centuries and played a significant role in the evangelization and cultural integration of the indigenous Guarani people.


The Jesuit missions were established by the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order, with the aim of converting the indigenous Guarani people to Christianity. The missions were built in strategic locations near the Guarani settlements, allowing for easy access and interaction. The Jesuits introduced European agricultural techniques, arts, and crafts to the Guarani, creating a unique blend of European and indigenous cultures. The missions thrived during the 17th and 18th centuries, becoming self-sufficient communities with impressive architectural structures. The Jesuits built churches, schools, workshops, and houses, all designed in the Baroque style. These buildings showcased the architectural and artistic skills of the Jesuits and the Guarani people. However, the prosperity of the missions attracted the attention of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial authorities. In 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish territories, leading to the decline and eventual abandonment of the missions. The Guarani people were forced to disperse, and the missions fell into ruin.

Current State

Today, the Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. The ruins of the missions have been partially restored and preserved, allowing visitors to experience the grandeur of these once-thriving communities. San Ignacio Mini, located in Argentina, is one of the most well-preserved missions. Its church, with its intricate carvings and ornate decorations, is a highlight of the site. The ruins of Santa Ana and Nuestra Señora de Loreto also showcase the architectural prowess of the Jesuits. In Brazil, the Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes are a major tourist attraction. The site features the remains of the church, residential buildings, and workshops. The ruins provide a glimpse into the daily lives of the Guarani people and the Jesuit missionaries. Efforts have been made to protect and promote the Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis. Museums and visitor centers have been established near the sites, providing educational resources and exhibits on the history and culture of the missions. Cultural events, such as music festivals and theater performances, are also organized to celebrate the legacy of the missions. The UNESCO World Heritage designation has brought international recognition to the Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis. It has helped raise awareness about the importance of preserving these historical sites and promoting cultural exchange. The missions continue to be a source of pride for the local communities and a symbol of the enduring legacy of the Jesuits and the Guarani people.