South America is full of pre-Colombian temples and Baroque churches, and the ‘New World’ has historical architecture bursting with stories of the region's rich history and some of the world's oldest pyramids.
Here are 5 historical sites that tell the story of Latin America’s captivating past.
1. Humberstone, Chile
Deep in the Atacama Desert lies an abandoned mining town that has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Humberstone and Santa Laura dates back to the 1880s when sodium nitrate was mined by thousands of Peruvians, Bolivians and Chileans in harsh conditions. The distinct Pampino culture and tales of the people’s struggle for better working conditions made for a defining moment in Chilean history and is definitely worth a visit.
2. Santuario de Las Lajas, Colombia
Few buildings are as dramatic as Las Lajas. Suspended between a river gorge, surrounded by lush vegetation and steeped in the stunning landscape of breathtaking cliffs, the Santuario de Las Lajas boasts of neo-gothic architecture reminiscent of buildings in Europe. It has been a place of pilgrimage since the 18th century, after rumours of an apparition of the Virgin Mary took root.
3. San Ignacio Mini, Argentina
San Ignacio Mini is one of the most well-preserved Jesuit missions in northern Argentina. Built in the middle of the tropical rainforest in order to house and educate the Gurani people, the buildings tell the violent story of European colonisation and the missionary evangelisation of South America. This building was founded in 1611 and moved to its current site in 1696, and remains one of the best preserved missions in the continent.
4. Machu Picchu, Peru
One of the most iconic locations in the world, Machu Picchu is a 15th century Incan settlement built on a ridge high in the Andes Mountains.
While the citadel was abandoned before the Spanish Conquest, it remained relatively unknown until the 20th century. It is currently in the process of reconstruction and has gained popularity as a hiking destination.
5. Pyramid of the Sun, Mexico
The magnificent Pyramid of the Sun is by far the largest structure in the city of Teotihuacan in Mexico. The origins of this city are a mystery - it is believed that work began on the structure in 100 AD, 200 years after the city’s inhabitation. The finished structure is about 75 metres tall, making it the third tallest pyramid in the world, but strangely, it was abandoned after it was built, more than 1,000 years before the arrival of the Aztecs. Archaeologists have discovered the gruesome remains of human and animal sacrifices within the pyramid’s structure.