This is the most impressive sight in Paraguay and also pretty much the only organised tourist attraction in the whole country. It is the first UNESCO World Heritage site (declared in 1993) I have visited that is virtually deserted of people. The whole area is just yours to stroll around. The ruins are from the 17th century when Jesuit missionaries from Spain arrived in Paraguay and “brought civilisation” to the native Guarani population. The ruins consists of the main church, Jesuit quarters and houses of local Guarani people. So many decorations are well preserved. We read that they are perfect example of Mestizo art, i.e., a mixture of European and South American art.
Getting there is a little painful – about 40 min bus ride from Encarnación. Doesn’t sound too bad but Encarnación itself is pretty hard to reach – there are virtually no flights there and it took us 6 hours by bus from the border of Brazil. There are two sets of ruins – Trinidad and Jesus, separated by 12 km. There is allegedly a bus between them but no-one knows when it goes, “maybe couple of times a day”. A taxi between them there and back was about PYG60000, so not too bad. The driver will wait for you.
Beach front in Encarnacion
Being a landlocked country Paraguay doesn’t really have a seaside. However, the Paraná river flows at the border of Argentina and Paraguay and the city of Encarnación has constructed a beach promenade with a sandy beach and handsome pier. On our first evening we stumbled across a kite festival and sunset at the beach. Great despite temperatures dropping to about 10-12°C which to us felt really cold.
Simple but elegant cathedral. We liked the carved adaptation of the last supper on top of the altar. Also the tainted glass windows were beautiful. Big, wooden cross outside the church draws one’s attention immediately. It is also the only church we found open during the day – most of the churches in Paraguay are locked outside service times.