San Ignacio Mini

San Ignacio Mini

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San Ignacio Mini in Argentina is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site of a former Jesuit reduction, the ruins are extremely well-preserved and a popular tourist attraction today.

History of San Ignacio Mini

Originally founded around 1610, San Ignacio Mini formed part of a series of Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis established by the Society of Jesus or ‘Jesuits’. Many similar Jesuit missions – around 30 in total – were scattered across Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, with 11 of these located in the modern day province of Misiones.

It was moved to its present site in 1695, and developed quickly – the remains of a church, cemetery, central square, priest’s house and 200 further dwellings have been uncovered today, many of which were built in a unique style known as Guaraní baroque.

The missions were primarily to evangelize and ‘civilise’ the local populations – San Ignacio Mini was particularly successful. It was a stable community, with a self-sustaining agricultural economy, enough sanitary measures to avoid the worst bouts of disease and plague, and well defended. At its peak, it had around 5,000 inhabitants, predominantly made up of Guaraní people.

The Jesuits were expelled from this area in 1767, and left San Ignacio Mini the following year. What was left of the settlement was destroyed in 1817 by Luso-Brazilian forces – the ruins were ‘rediscovered’ in 1897. They were made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.

San Ignacio Mini today

The ruins are arguably the best preserved of the Jesuits missions across South America, and they can be particularly magical if you manage to beat the crowds by arriving early or late. There’s a tangible sense of paradise lost here.

Whilst the ruins are all made of red-brown stone today, they would have originally been white. The church still remains the focal point of the site today. Free guided tours run in Spanish and English pretty regularly – the site is open every day, with slightly shorter hours in winter (April-October).

The site’s museum is well worth visited for an impartial description of Jesuit activities in South America, particularly in relation to the Guaraní people. There’s also a scale model of what the site would have looked like in its heyday.

During the summer there’s a nightly sound and light show which makes use of projections to tell the story of San Ignacio, which many visitors really enjoy.

Getting to San Ignacio Mini

The ruins are in the modern day town of San Ignacio, in the province of Misiones. The Argentina – Paraguay border is a few kilometres away. San Ignacio lies on Ruta 12: you can get here via bus from city of Posadas or Obera.

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

The Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis are the archeological remains of towns created by the Jesuit Order.

The towns existed between 1609 and 1818, and aimed to socially, culturally and religiously elevate the local Guarani Indians. They also provided protection and economic stability. Originally there were 30 missions, spread out over Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The two Jesuit missions in Paraguay are now a separate WHS.

This designated site consists of five different missions:

  • São Miguel das Missões (Brazil)
  • San Ignacio Mini (Argentina)
  • Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana (Argentina)
  • Nuestra Señora de Loreto (Argentina)
  • Santa María la Mayor (Argentina)

Ruins of San Ignacio Miní, Argentina

The name Argentina comes from the Latin word for sliver 'argentum', and it is indeed a country rich architectural heritage, especially in its main cities. Some of the finest architectural ruins in the country are in the north and the San Ignacio Miní mission is a site that has ruins in an architectural style that is unique to Latin America .

The mission played an important part in the history of northern Argentina and in a dramatic period of the history of the continent. The site was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.

The Mission of San Ignacio Miní

The mission, which was originally a complex of religious buildings, private housing, and workshops, was built during the Spanish colonial period . During this era, the Catholic Church was given special privileges and granted extensive lands. The Spanish often granted these rights in remote areas since they believed the Church would convert the native people and &lsquocivilize&rsquo them.

The original mission was found by priests from the Jesuit Order in 1692. It was constructed in what was then virgin rainforest in a region inhabited by the Guarini people. The Jesuits were successful in converting the local people to Christianity and persuading them to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, the mission expanded over time, and the locals built homes around the churches, engaging in craft and trade.

By the 18 th century, the mission had become a small town with a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 people, most of those being Guarani.

Details of the carvings along the walls

San Ignacio Miní was part of the Jesuit Paraguayan province, an area dominated by the Jesuit controlled missions, who protected the indigenous people from slave raiding parties. The province became a state within a state, with its own Guarani militia who often clashed with Brazilian slave traders , as portrayed in the 1986 movie The Mission . There was even a printing press at the location that produced works in the Guarini language.

However, conflict and the 1767 expulsion of the Jesuits from all Spanish territories meant that the mission declined. During the various wars that plagued the region after the collapse of Spanish and Portuguese Empires, the mission was destroyed by a Brazilian force in the early 1800s.

The area only became part of the modern nation of Argentina in the 19 th century after the War of the Tripartite Alliance.

After its abandonment, the mission was soon overgrown and hidden by the encroaching rainforest and finally forgotten until the 1890s when it was finally rediscovered. The mission was visited by a Brazilian expedition in 1903 which reintroduced the world to the splendid remains, although many of the connecting walls had collapsed due to the weather and neglect.

As the fears for the future of the site were valid, San Ignacio Miní was placed on the World Monuments Watch List In 1996, which led to a series of initiatives that are ongoing to preserve the historic remains.

What Can Be Seen At San Ignacio Miní

The remains are some of the most impressive to have survived from the Jesuit period of rule in the region. The original mission which was built around a square can still be seen. However, much of the original mission has been lost and there are only traces of the cabildo, or council house left.

The extensive ruins of the church, which was designed by an Italian priest in the style reminiscent of Baroque, also integrated elements from the local indigenous Guarani culture and has been described as Guarani-Baroque. The original church was 210 feet in length and its walls were five feet thick.

The graceful carvings embellishing the entrance of the church

The church entrance is well-preserved, most of the walls are standing and there are still impressive buttresses and arches. Delicate carvings of angels and saints adorn the entrance as well as some walls, but the roof has long since collapsed. The building was built using local red sandstone and at sunset the ruins make striking impression.

How To Get San Ignacio Miní

The World Heritage Site is located in the town of San Ignacio, not far from Argentina&rsquos border with Brazil and is close to the main bus terminal. An admission fee is required to enter, and it is only possible to visit the mission during opening hours. In the evenings multimedia show is displayed on the walls of the church and tells the story of the mission. Guides are available and there is plenty of accommodation near San Ignacio Miní.


What you are going to experience.

Starting very early, from 7:30 a.m., a van will pick you up at your hotel in Puerto Iguazu or Foz de Iguazu to start on the way to the first stop that will be the Wanda Mines, just over 50km from Puerto Iguazu (Argentina).

There an English speaking guide will be waiting to tell you about the history of the mines, how they work, the importance of the place for the community, and ending in the precious stones store where you can buy some souvenirs of the place.

Then we begin the trip to the Ruins of San Ignacio, in a distance of approximately 200 kilometers. This trip can be a bit long, so we recommend taking the opportunity to see the view and landscape of the province of Misiones and rest a bit.

Arriving around noon, before entering the Ruins of San Ignacio Mini, they will make a stop for lunch at a local restaurant (not included).

Once finished, it is time to visit the Ruins of San Ignacio, there a specialized English-speaking guide will tell you all the history of the place, Jesuits Missions in the zone, and how the place worked.

What to See near San Ignacio Mini in Argentina

Explore the Jesuit Ruins of San Ignacio Mini

The highlight of any visit to San Ignacio, Argentina is definitely a visit to the San Ignacio Mini Jesuit ruins. These ruins were declared a UNESCO world heritage site back in 1984. The original village of San Ignacio Mini was established in the 1600s by traveling Jesuit Missionaries. The ruins as they stand are considered to be the best-preserved mission ruins in Argentina. The San Ignacio ruins are located near the north-west end of the city. They are strictly controlled by timed entrance and tours.

We gathered our tickets at the entrance area off of the road and passed through a museum filled with artifacts and stories of the village and its people. After leaving the museum, we followed the building around, wandering through the shade of tall trees that gave us relief from the hot mid-day sun. This route took us through the village buildings and workshops, which the boys loved exploring. The doors were just the right size for them!

We came upon the huge main plaza. The well-manicured grass contrasted with the stunning facade of the remnants of the San Ignacio Mini church. The towering walls were every bit as impressive as we had hoped they would be. After stopping for some photos, we entered the church via the detailed facade. The inside was less detailed, but a few of the arches remained that showed off the talented handiwork that went into the construction.

The buildings in the town were made of red sandstone blocks in a style called Guarani baroque. We were surprised to learn that the structures were originally white! The site is easy to navigate on your own with panels explaining the significance of different areas of buildings.

We learned about how the aim of the mission was to evangelize the Guarani natives. Like the Missions in Paraguay, each mission was led by a single Jesuit Missionary whose job was to strike a fine balance between Guarani culture and the Catholic Diocese. The mission eventually ended when King Charles III of Spain expelled the Jesuit order from the site. The ruins were later destroyed by local Guarani tribes, although there is a spectacular amount that is left standing, waiting for visitors to explore them.

At night the ruins are transformed into a sound and light show. Having experienced Petra by Night when we visited Jordan, we knew we had to go back to experience these ruins at night. The only drawback was that we had to pay another entrance fee. However, this was also the case for Petra by Night in Jordan.

The night story experience at San Ignacio Mini provided some insight into the lives of the 4000 Guarani that once lived on the site by using projections cast onto a mist of water spray. The various segments are presented in different parts of the ruins. We were also provided with headsets that relayed the stories in English.

The presentation was wonderful and awe-inspiring. The ghostly figures told the story of the locals prior to, and during the uprising that led to the destruction of the ruins. And it truly felt like we were watching the lives of the Guarani people unfold before us.

Explore the Lesser-Known Jesuit Ruins of Misiones, Argentina

Santa Ana Jesuit Ruins

If you have some extra time in Misiones, Argentina, the Jesuit ruins of Santa Ana and Loreto are worth the day trip. Both are also UNESCO world heritage sites and perfect for those looking for family adventure holidays. Best of all, entrance is included as part of your ticket to San Ignacio Mini. Our first stop was the Santa Ana ruins which are only 2 kilometers from the modern-day town of Santa Ana and about 15 minutes from San Ignacio.

Santa Ana was founded in 1633. Our guide told us that over 7000 Guarani once inhabited this town. This was not surprising when we saw a massive 140 sq. m. plaza. Unlike San Ignacio Mini, the Santa Ana ruins have barely been excavated. Instead, some trees and other foliage have been cleared allowing guests to see foundation stones. The sight reminded us of the Coba Ruins in Mexico where the jungle seemed to be taking back the site.

We also spent some time at the cemetery which is just to the right side of the church. Many graves had top slabs that had been moved with time. Other larger walk-in tombs had broken doors or windows allowing birds entry. Some graves had fresh flowers while others had obviously not been visited for years. We could have wandered here for hours.

Nuestra Senora de Loreto Jesuit Ruins

Next, we visited the Nuestra Senora de Loreto. Nowhere near being fully restored, it is hard to imagine that it is was the largest of the 3 missions we visited. Nuestra Senora de Loreto was founded in 1610 and abandoned in the mid-1700s. Amazingly, we learned that it was the site of the first printing press in Latin America.

The ruins were in various states of excavation at the time of our visit. Many of the newly excavated areas were protected by roofed structures. Boardwalks were set up to explore the excavated area.

Experience the Geodes and Gems of Wanda Mines

Wanda Mines is only 40 km away from Puerto Iguazu. So, many tour companies provide a combined day tour of San Ignacio Mini and Wanda Mines from Puerto Iguazu. However, we didn&rsquot want to feel rushed at San Ignacio Mini. And since we were staying in the town for a few days we opted to go on a tour of Wanda mines on a different day.

When we showed up for our tour, we were surprised to find small pieces of amethyst on the ground. C was ecstatic. He has taken to collecting rocks from various places during our travels and these rocks looked, in his own words, &ldquomore awesome&rdquo than other rocks in his collection. Our tour guide greeted us and explained that the Wanda Mines were once a large source of quartz crystals such as amethysts, agates, and topazes. However, nowadays the mine is largely operated as a tourist attraction.

San Ignacio Mini - Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis

We hired a driver to take us from Puerto Iguazu. IT cost us 7500 ARS or 120 USD for the whole trip including the stop at Wanda Mines. Entrance fees were separate.

After the drive of about 3.5 hours, we reached the small town of San Ignacio Mini.
The Ruins are architecturally impressive as a part of the old mission still stands. There is a small museum to explain (in English as well) the history behind the Jesuit missions and the native Guarani people. It is important part of understanding the history of the area (Misiones) that you are visiting.
I would say 2 hours would suffice to walk through the ruins and visit the museum. There are restaurants and souvenir shops across the road from the ruins for a quick lunch stop as well.
Entrance to the ruins 700 ARS per person.
Overall I would say it is an important site, though it comes with a significant drive time and it would be nice in include other stops along the way ( Eg: Wanda Mines) or do it on your way to Corrientes or Posada, in order to make it worth the trip.
We had an excellent and informative driver (even though he spoke only Spanish) and he tried his best to make sure we enjoyed the drive.
You can contact Hector on +54-9-3757619369

San Ignacio Miní

The Jesuit ruins in San Ignacio Miní © diegorayaces, Shutterstock

This pleasant small town is an hour by bus from Posadas (63km east on Ruta 12), and home of one of the most important ruined missions. San Ignacio is a large archaeological site where between 1609 and 1818, the Jesuits established one of the most significant and unique social, cultural and religious centres of South American history. Three other missions are in the area: Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa María La Mayor. San Ignacio is also a good base to explore the surrounding countryside, villages and riverscape, and that rarity for most of northern Argentina: hills.

Visiting the missions

The Interpretive Centre Ruinas de San Ignacio, near the entrance to the ruins (tel: 470186 open: 07.00&ndash19.00 daily), has displays and installations interpreting the culture and mission lifestyle. There is a very good state-of-the-art 3D sound and light show amid the ruins, a very atmospheric experience on a summer evening. It starts at 19.30 every day, lasts an hour and costs 30 pesos. A ticket covering all four missions costs 30 pesos and lasts for 15 days. San Ignacio&rsquos is very impressive and you can spend a few hours wandering round there are good multi-lingual information lecterns scattered around. Cheap local buses (30&ndash45 minutes, 3&ndash4 pesos) run hourly to Santa Ana and Loreto, or a taxi will charge around 100 pesos to take you to both, including waiting time. The tourist information office on Sarmiento and Rivadavia can give you detailed schedules. Santa María, a couple of hours away, requires a full-day excursion. If you&rsquore keen on exploring all the missions, it&rsquos most convenient if you have your own car.

The Jesuits were expelled from the area in 1767, and the missions themselves raided and destroyed by Portuguese and Paraguayan invasions between 1816 and 1819. A remarkable civilisation that had prospered for a couple of hundred years was thus destroyed in three.

San Ignacio Miní was founded in 1610, and moved to the present site in 1695, growing to a population of 3,300 it remains the best preserved of all the missions, with a central square, church, priest&rsquos house, cemetery and over 200 dwellings still in a fair state. The church, 74m long, was an outstanding example of the &lsquoGuaraní Baroque&rsquo style, with floral bas-reliefs carved into the red sandstone. By the time of their destruction and extinction, the greater mission comprised 30 towns within Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Half of these were in Argentina, with 11 in the territory of Misiones. The Jesuits were expelled from the area in 1767, and the missions themselves raided and destroyed by Portuguese and Paraguayan invasions between 1816 and 1819. A remarkable civilisation that had prospered for a couple of hundred years was thus destroyed in three.

The social organisation and economic structure are considered unprecedented in the world. The missions&rsquo structure and stability empowered them to deal with sanitary issues and avoid devastation from plagues, to deter military attack and to maintain a completely self-sustaining agricultural economy with advanced skills and trades that provided a high quality of life for all who lived there. For these reasons San Ignacio Miní reached a population of 28,714 inhabitants after its first hundred years. By 1732, the population had reached 141,182. This seeming utopia caused discomfort to the political powers colonising the surrounding countries, and is the reason for the expulsions and attacks. The missions, lost in the jungle, were rediscovered in 1897, but restoration did not begin until the 1940s in 1984, the best were placed on UNESCO&rsquos World Heritage List.

Nuestra Señora de Loreto was founded in 1632 and moved in 1686 to the present site, 3km off Ruta 12 about 10km back towards Posadas although now in a particularly bad state, it is also on the World Heritage List. Santa Ana is 40km from Posadas along Ruta 12 (and 700m from the highway) in the Sierra del Tapé it was first founded in 1633, but because of attacks by bandits it was abandoned and then re-established in 1660. The church, cemetery, dwellings and workshops can still be seen. Santa María La Mayor, founded in 1636, is 150km from Posadas on Ruta Provincial 2, between San Javier and Concepción de la Sierra the walls of the priests&rsquo dwelling, school and workshops can still be seen.

The Jesuit Missions in South America: Jesuits Reductions in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil

The Indios Guaraní of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil would have been another indigenous people victim of the colonial conquest in South America, if the Jesuits would haven’t been able to persuade the King of Spain to grant that vast region to their care.

The Jesuits promised to the King generous rewards, in the form of tributes, in exchange of the exemption from the “encomiendas” (hard labour to which were subjected all the other Indios), assuring that the region would have been an Imperial dominion thanks only to the Gospel power.

Therefore, for about 150 years, the Jesuits succeeded in protecting the Guaraní from the raids of the slave-hunters from São Paulo (Paulistas). They founded several missions or “reducciones” and developed a kind of evangelisation a bit peculiar for that time. They put into practice the precepts of the Gospel, isolated the Guaraní from the bad influences of the Europeans and developed the creativity of the Indios.

The Jesuits, in the 17th and 18th Centuries, achieved this bold experiment in religious colonisation. The Reducciones encompassed the vast zone of today’s Argentina, Paraguay, southern Brazil and Uruguay. They were one of the most singular creations of the Catholic missionary activity.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

The first settlement had founded in 1609. Many other Jesuit Missions were established along the rivers, in the Chaco, Guaira and Paraná territories. The first missions were founded in Brazil, but due to the continuous raids of the Paulistas, were soon abandoned (1640s.).

Guided by the Jesuits, the Indios had advanced laws, they founded free public services for the poor, schools, hospitals, established birth control, and suppressed the death penalty. A kind of society based on the principles of the primitive Christianity had been established. All the inhabitants of the “reducciones” worked in the “tupambae”, land property of the community, and all the products which they produced were fairly divided among them.

The Jesuit mission of Jesus Tavarangue, Paraguay. Author Patty P

The Guaraní were very skilled in handicraft works, sculpture, woodcarving etc. the “reducciones”, were the first “industrial” state of the South America. Indeed, such advanced products as watches, musical instruments, etc. were produced in the “reducciones”. The first typography of the New World had been built in the reducciones. The working day was about 6 hours (in Europe at that time was of 12-14 hours), and the free time had been dedicated to music, dance, bow-shot contests and to prayer. The Guaraní society was the first in history of the world to be entirely literate.

The main settlements had been on the Rio Paraná along the border of the present Argentina and Paraguay. These missions reached their apogee in the first half of 18th century, gathered around about 30 missions, between 100.000 and 300.000 Indios converted to Catholicism.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

The Jesuit missions assumed almost full independence, as if they were real nations. The “reducciones” were centres of the community life. The main buildings, like the church, the college, the church yard were concentrated around a wide square. The Indios’ houses were faced on the other three sides of the square. The village was also provided with a house for the widows, a hospital, and several warehouses. In the centre of the square, rose on a tall base, remained a huge cross and the patron Saint statue, for which the mission was named. Some “reducciones” numbered up to 20.000 inhabitants.

Trouble started in 1750s, when the King of Spain ceded to Portugal a portion of the territory where the missions were located. The Portuguese, who wanted to take economic advantage of these zones and of the work of the Indios, caused the so-called Guaraní wars which concluded in 1756 with the Indios defeat. The Jesuit Missions ended in 1767, with the expulsion of the Jesuits. During that time, the last missions also emptied and the Indios returned in the forest.

Today, of that time, are left the beautiful ruins of some of the “reducciones”, and the indigenous language: the Guaraní, that is today the only native language to be the official language of a South American nation: Paraguay. The Indios Guaraní almost disappeared as they are now, reduced to only 50.000 people. The remains of the reducciones, are one of the most interesting chapters of the colonial history, with some of the most remarkable examples of art of the 17th. and 18th. centuries in South America.

Map of the Guaranì Jesuitical Missions "Reducciones" in Argentina and Paraguay. Author Marco Ramerini Map of the Guaranì Jesuitical Missions "Reducciones" in Brazil and Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini

The ruins of 8 missions are in Paraguay:

San Ignacio Guazù (1609)
Santa Rosa de Lima (1698)
Santa Maria da Fé (1647)
San Cosme y Damian (1652) it had also an astronomic observatory.
Santiago (1651)
Itapua today Encarnacion.
Jesus de Tavarangué (1685) UNESCO world heritage.
Santissima Trinidad de Paranà (1706) UNESCO world heritage.

The ruins of 15 missions are in Argentina:

San Ignacio Mini (1632) UNESCO world heritage.
Santa Ana (1637) UNESCO world heritage.
Nuestra Senhora de Loreto UNESCO world heritage.
Santa Maria la Major UNESCO world heritage.
Candelaria, Corpus, San Carlos, San José, Martires, San Javier, Conception, Apostoles, Santo Tomé, Yapeiu, La Cruz.

The ruins of 7 missions are in Brazil:

Sao Miguel Arcanjo (das Missoes) (1687) the chief mission of the seven in Brazil that is a UNESCO world heritage site. Close there were the missions of Santo Angelo (1706), Sao Francisco de Borja (1682), Sao Nicolau, Sao Luiz Gonzaga, Sao Lourenço Martir (1690), Sao Joao Batista (1697).

Chiquitos missions (Bolivia):

San Francisco Javier, Conception, Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Rafael, San José. UNESCO world heritage site.

Between the Guaranì e Chiquitos missions, there were the missions of Taruma: Sao Joaquin (1747), San Estanislao (1747), Belen (1760).

The Jesuit mission of Jesus Tavarangue, Paraguay. Author Patty P San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini. San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini. San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.


– Caraman, Philip “The lost paradise: the Jesuit Republic in South America” 1976, New York: Seabury Press

– Gomez, Alcide Antonio “Ruinas Jesuiticas de San Ignacio Mini. Los treinte pueblos” San Ignacio Mini, Argentina

– Cunninghame Graham, R.B. “A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay 1607 to 1767” 1924, London, William Heinemann

– Ganson, Barbara “The Guarani under Spanish Rule in the Rio de la Plata” 2003, Stanford University Press

– Gomez, Alcide Antonio “Ruinas Jesuiticas de San Ignacio Mini. Los treinte pueblos” San Ignacio Mini, Argentina

Exploring the ruins of San Ignacio Miní

Once you enter the complex, you come across the museum in the entrance area. Its included in the entrance fee. Here, you can get a better idea of the history of the complex and what life in the mission was like.

Either go first, to know what you’re looking at when you see the actual ruins. Or keep it for last, to delve deeper into the facts once you’ve seen the actual thing.

Entering the mission

Once you leave the entrance area behind, you walk through some trees to reach the green on which the mission stands. The impressive church is on the opposite side, so you can take it in in its full splendour while walking towards it.

This former church is the best-preserved building. It’s made of red sandstone, which is a naturally fragile material. But because its walls were around 2 m thick, they endured over the centuries.

The style in which the mission was built is called „Guaraní baroque”. Which makes sense, because even someone knowing as little about architecture as me can spot the similarities to Spanish baroque.

After marvelling at the church, you can walk around the huge site to your heart’s content. There’s a lot to see and explore, so make sure you bring enough time!

San Ignacio Miní is a fascinating window to a chapter of history that I, at least, didn’t really know anything about. What is left of the original buildings gives the faintest of ideas of how impressive the structure must once have been.

San Ignacio Mini: ruins of a Jesuit Guarani mission

Located in the north of Argentina. In the part of Argentine territory that is wedged between Paraguay and Brazil up to the Iguazu Falls. San Ignacio Miní was one of the many missions founded by the Jesuits in South America in the 17th century. At that time they founded about 30 missions in the territory which is today a border between the states of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

Many ruins of the ancient Jesuit missions are found in the Argentine state of Missiones. Among these we can mention Candelaria, Loreto, Santa Ana, Santa María and finally San Ignacio Mini. The latter is the best preserved of all. Here the artistic and sculptural details that made it the symbol of the style known as Baroque Guaraní are wonderful.


The main building of the mission is its monumental church designed by the Italian Jesuit architect Giuseppe (José) Brasanelli. The church measures 74 meters long and 24 meters wide, has 2 meter thick red sandstone walls and ceramic tile flooring.

In the main square of the San Ignacio Miní settlement, decorated like the rest of the mission by Guaraní artists, in addition to the church there are also the buildings of the kitchen, the dining room, the school, the Jesuit quarter with the cemetery and more 200 houses of the Guaraní Indians.

At the height of the mission’s development, in 1733, the population hosted in the San Ignacio mission reached 4,000 people.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini..

Following the defeat that the missionary militias inflicted on the Paulist gangs (bandeirantes) in Mbororé, on the Rio Uruguay in March 1641. The Jesuit reducciones had a constant increase and expansion that lasted until 1732, the year in which the population of the 30 missions then existed reached the remarkable figure of 141.182 inhabitants. Just eight years later, in 1740, the population had shrunk to 73,910 inhabitants due to epidemics. In 1767 the Jesuit order was suppressed by the Pope and the missions were abandoned.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini..

The ruins of San Ignacio today also house an interesting museum on the history of the mission and the Guaraní Indians, the Museo Jesuítico de San Ignacio Miní.

Since 1984 San Ignacio Miní together with other missions (San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor (Argentina), and the ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes (in Brazil)) has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini.. San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini.. San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini..

Watch the video: Ruins of San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina