Fodor's Expert Review Parinacota

Parque Nacional Lauca Town/Village Fodor's Choice

Within the park, off Ruta 11, is the altiplano village of Parinacota, one of the most beautiful in all of Chile. In the center of the village, among houses made of adobe with thatched roofs, sits the whitewashed Iglesia Parinacota, dating from 1789. Inside are murals depicting sinners and saints and a mysterious "walking table," which parishioners have chained to the wall for fear that it will steal away in the night. An interesting Aymara cultural commentary can be found in the Stations of the Cross, which depict Christ's tormenters not as Roman soldiers, but as Spanish conquistadors. Opposite the church you'll find crafts stalls run by Aymara women in the colorful shawls and bowler hats worn by many altiplano women. Only 18 people live in the village, but many more make a pilgrimage here for annual festivals such as the Fiesta de las Cruces, held on May 3, and the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Canderlaria, a three-day romp that begins on February 2.

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