Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page
El sitio del patrimonio cultural chileno (spanish only)
Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales (spanish only)

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 2000
Size of heritage:

Longitude: -72,233°
Latitude: -41,500°


The Churches of Chiloé represent a unique example in Latin America of an outstanding form of ecclesiastical wooden architecture. They represent a tradition initiated by the Jesuit Peripatetic Mission in the 17th and 18th centuries, continued and enriched by the Franciscans during the 19th century and still prevailing today. These churches embody the intangible richness of the Chiloé Archipelago, and bear witness to a successful fusion of indigenous and European culture, the full integration of its architecture in the landscape and environment, as well as to the spiritual values of the communities.

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Churches of Chiloé: A Testament to Chilote Architecture and Cultural Heritage

The Churches of Chiloé, located in the municipalities of Castro, Chonchi, Dalcahue, Puqueldón, Quemchi, and Quinchao in the Chiloé Province of the X Region de los Lagos in Chile, are a collection of unique and historically significant churches that have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000. These churches are not only architectural marvels but also bear witness to the cultural heritage of the Chilote people.


The Churches of Chiloé date back to the 17th and 18th centuries when the Spanish colonizers arrived in the region. The Chilote people, a mix of indigenous and Spanish settlers, developed a distinct architectural style known as Chilote architecture. This style blended European religious influences with local materials and construction techniques.

The churches were built using native timber, such as alerce and cypress, which were abundant in the region. The construction techniques employed by the Chilote craftsmen were unique, utilizing a system of wooden joints and pegs instead of nails. This technique, known as "entablature," allowed the structures to withstand the region's harsh climate, including earthquakes and heavy rains.

Over time, the Chilote people constructed more than 150 churches across the archipelago, each with its own distinct design and architectural features. These churches became the center of community life, serving as places of worship, social gatherings, and cultural events.

Current State

Today, 16 of these churches have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites, representing the best-preserved examples of Chilote architecture. These churches include the Church of San Francisco in Castro, the Church of Santa María de Loreto in Achao, and the Church of San Juan in Dalcahue, among others.

The Churches of Chiloé are not only significant for their architectural value but also for their cultural and historical importance. They are a testament to the fusion of indigenous and European influences in Chilote culture and reflect the strong religious beliefs and traditions of the local communities.

However, the preservation of these churches is an ongoing challenge. The harsh climate, including high humidity and exposure to saltwater, poses a constant threat to their structural integrity. Additionally, the lack of resources and funding for maintenance and restoration efforts further exacerbates the risk of deterioration.

Efforts are being made by local communities, government agencies, and international organizations to preserve and protect these churches. Restoration projects have been undertaken to repair damaged structures and reinforce their foundations. Training programs have also been implemented to ensure the transfer of traditional construction techniques to future generations.

The Churches of Chiloé continue to be an important part of the cultural identity of the Chilote people and attract visitors from around the world. Their inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list serves as a recognition of their outstanding universal value and the need to safeguard this unique architectural and cultural heritage for future generations.

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Amilik Puelo

Distance: 4,2 mi
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