San Rafael de Velasco mission (1696), Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck
San Rafael de Velasco mission (1696), Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

San Rafael de Velasco Mission: Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos (Eastern Bolivia)

Written by Marco Ramerini. Photos by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck 

This mission is located in the town of  San Rafael de Velasco which is located in Eastern Bolivia, about 40 km east of the city of San Miguel de Velasco and approximately 470 km north-east of the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The city lies at an altitude of 408 meters in the region of Chiquitania.

The mission of San Rafael de Velasco is one of the oldest missions founded in the territory of the Chiquitos, in fact it was founded in 1695 by the Jesuits Fr. Juan Bautista Zea and Fr. Francisco Herbás. Only a year after its founding – in 1696 – the mission was merged with the neighboring mission of Santa Rosa de los Taucas.

This mission was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990. The church of the mission is richly decorated with frescoes.

San Rafael de Velasco mission (1696), Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

San Rafael de Velasco mission (1696), Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

Entrance, San Rafael de Velasco mission, Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

Entrance, San Rafael de Velasco mission, Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

Frescoes, San Rafael de Velasco mission, Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck.

Frescoes, San Rafael de Velasco mission, Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck.

Frescoes, San Rafael de Velasco mission, Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

Frescoes, San Rafael de Velasco mission, Bolivia. Photo Copyright by Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck

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