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Myths, food and churches on the island of Chiloe

Article - September 8, 2011
Around 112 miles long and just over 30 miles wide, the Isla Grande de Chiloe (Big Island of Chiloe) is the second-largest island in South America after Tierra del Fuego and is the biggest in the Chiloe archipelago.
This group of islands evolved independently from mainland Chile and developed its own history, from its architecture and mythology (of witchcraft and ghost ships) to its culture and cuisine, such as its meat, potato and seafood stew curanto.

The island features distinctive houses mounted on stilts along the water’s edge, called palafitos. It also boasts more than 150 iconic wooden churches, 16 of which have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000, as the organization believes the churches of Chiloe “are outstanding examples of the successful fusion of European and indigenous cultural traditions to produce a unique form of wooden architecture.”

Commissioned by the Jesuit priests on the island, the emblematic churches were all built between the mid-18th and early-20th centuries. Crafted from native timber, the churches have weathered Chiloe’s extremely humid climate well over the years.

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