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Loreto and San Javier November 20
Chilly Morning Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó Barred Window

After spending a night in the desert, we returned to Loreto. It was the most beautiful of all the cities we have visited so far on the Baja and there was another mission for us to see. Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó founded in 1697 is the greatest Jesuits achievement in this part of Mexico. In fact, it is the oldest still standing mission. Founded earlier, in 1683, San Bruno was the first Christian mission in Baja California, but it has survived for only 12 years. For the Jesuits, the success of Loreto became the basis for further expansion, the creation of the entire mission system on the peninsula.

Baroque Altar Enclosed Courtyard Bell Tower

Well-preserved church in Loreto has a simple exterior. This is a typical Jesuit stone-built complex. It dates from 1740 and includes not only a church building with a baroque gilded altar, but also enclosed courtyard with workshops and quarters for resident Indians. Mission complex was required back then in order to force Indians to live with missionaries. Indigenous in Baja were simple hunter-gatherers and had never lived in any form of settlements.

Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó Detail in the Façade #1

Our next stop was an easy accessible village situated in the Sierra de la Giganta. Founded in that area, in 1699 Jesuit Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó lasted only two years. Local Cochimi population was not very friendly to the Europeans and forced them to stop evangelism. A few years later, a new mission was moved to another closely location with much better water resources, today’s village of San Javier. By 1758, Jesuits built what is the most beautiful of all mission churches in Baja California. It is the location with high peaks in the background and the church itself in a unique style. All this makes this mission strongly stands out among the others in this region of Mexico.

  Courtyard Entrance
Church Graveyard Richly Gilded Altar Detail in the Façade #2