2010 World Monuments Watch
Scattered across the Santa Cruz region of Bolivia (San Xavier, Concepción, Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Rafael, and San José) are six Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, standing as cultural, religious, and artistic centers of their communities. Each mission is similar in composition, with a church, parish building, bell tower, and other buildings organized around a courtyard, with an adjacent workshop, cemetery, and orchard. The church entrance faces a central plaza in each city and the façades and interiors reflect local artistic traditions. The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos were erected in the 17th and 18th centuries and preserved by local residents until the mid-20th century, when new generations began to feel less tied to long-standing community obligations to the missions. Due to their artistic qualities and cultural importance and integrity, in 1990 the six Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A conservation movement among the local groups began in response to the conditions of the missions, and in 2007, a management plan was developed. Tourism to these sites has flourished, and the local communities wish to improve infrastructure and implement sustainable visitation strategies across this mission landscape. Bolivia lacks a robust national heritage policy, and a fully implemented management plan for the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos would advance dialogue regarding the protection of cultural resources in the country.