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La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná is a Jesuit ‘reduccione’ or mission in Paraguay. A reduction is like a small city-state used for missionary work, usually ‘helping’ the indigenous people convert to Christianity. The Jesuits allowed the local populations to continue their native lifestyle but under the watchful eyes of the Mother Church. Many of the local tribes would be able to recite hymns in Latin and they often received a classical education. The Society of Jesus was extremely powerful in the 18th Century and the Spanish Empire was laissez-faire in their attitude. Paraguay was as near as you could get to having an almost Jesuit Republic. However, their influence eventually waned and the reducciones fell into disrepair.

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La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná is  accessible from the city of Encarnacion, I took a short bus trip there and simply wandered around the spectacular ruins. Trinidad was built in 1706, there is a central piazza, church, meetinghouse, school, various workshops, a museum and housing for the locals. It must have been overwhelming moving from the simple native dwellings into the large-scale European buildings of the reductions. The architecture is austere in places but beautiful in its pious simplicity. The huge walls still tower over the nearby rickety houses and the modern world beyond the fences seems completely at odds with this open air museum. I found peace and tranquillity in this place, especially after coming from the tattered chaos and clutter of the nearby Encarnacion and Posadas in Argentina. Trinidad is totally deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage status.

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