Deep in the heart of Itapua, Paraguay, are the Jesuit missions (also known as “reductions”) of La Santisima Trinidad and Jesús de Tavarangüe. Accessible from the southern city of Encarnacion, the ruins lie about 45 minutes outside of the city by bus.
The Reducción de Jesús was established in 1685, in a different location near the Monday river. It was relocated several times, and moved to this location in what is now Itapua in 1760. The Jesuits planned to build replica of the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Italy at the site, which would have been one of the largest churches in the area at that time. But when the Jesuit order was expelled from Paraguay in 1767, the construction of the mission had not yet been completed, and so the semi-complete church fell into ruin.
In 1993, the ruins of Jesús de Tavarangüe, together with la Santisima Trinidad, became a UNESCO World Heritage site and have become a popular tourist attraction for the country of Paraguay.