Franciscan missionaries arrived at Curimón, about seven kilometers east of present-day San Felipe, at the end of 17th century, and began to construct a church and convent at the beginning of the 18th, but earthquakes destroyed them both. Dating from 1727, the rebuilt Iglesia de Curimón San Felipe has 1.2-meter-thick adobe walls and, thanks to 19th-century remodeling, a three-arched portico topped by a two-tiered bell tower. While impressive, some parts are suffering serious termite damage; the gardens, surrounding a cypress tree reportedly 400 years old, deserve a look.
In 1740, José Manso de Velasco signed the founding papers for San Felipe here, and José de San Martín’s Ejército de los Andes (Army of the Andes) lodged here in 1817 before its decisive victory over the Spanish royalists at Chacabuco.
An adjacent museum romanticizes colonial Catholic evangelism but does feature Franciscan relics that include anonymously created ecclesiastical paintings impressive for both their size and detail. It’s open 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 3:30–6 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday; on Sunday, it keeps afternoon hours only.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition