The tiny Santa Ana de Velasco, the smallest of the Jesuit Missions, feels like it has been suspended in time. Founded in 1755, it was one of the last settlements to be established before the expulsion of the Jesuits. The church was built solely by the indigenous population, 12 years after the Jesuitsâ€™ ejection, and has a more rustic charm than the other mission churches. Itâ€™s also the only church that remained largely intact throughout the years, and so is the most true to its original structure.
Inside the church youâ€™ll find a beautiful 18th century painted organ, which is still used to this day. There are a number of other antiques inside, including a diatonic harp and some artwork. During the restoration of the church, many Jesuit musical scores were found and Santa Ana plays an important part in the bi-annual Festival Internacional de MÃºsica Renacentista y Barroca Americana â€˜Misiones de Chiquitos.â€™ If the church is closed when you want to visit, search out the vicar LuÃs Rocha who will be more than happy to open up for you. The town itself consists of a grassy plaza and just a few hundred inhabitants. Thereâ€™s a small museum and an artisan shop on the main plaza; and another small museum at Comunidad Valenciana, which is just off the plaza and also has accommodation. There are few other places to stay including Albergue Santa Ana, on the main plaza, and El TacÃº, which also serves food.
Just out of town you can go for a swim at the local a damn or visit the Minas de CaolÃn where they mine limestone to whitewash the houses. Santa Ana de Velasco can be found 44 kilometers southeast of San Ignacio del Velasco on a dirt road. Easter celebrations in the small village, and the Fiesta de Santa Ana, on July 26th, are worth a visit. There are daily buses leaving San Ignacio del Velasco in the early morning and early afternoon, with Universal and Trans Bolivia respectively.