Culture and Tradition
Chiloé and its traditional architecture
One of Chiloé’s most striking characteristics is its architecture, which traditionally developed along the interior coastline and river banks, sometimes rising up into the surrounding hills.
Occasionally, seaside settlements appear, or solitary wooden buildings atop the small islands of the archipelago. Churches, forts, bridges, mills, stilt houses and larch-shingled houses are the typical constructions found on Chiloé.
In the year 2000 UNESCO declared 16 of the more than 60 churches on the Chiloé archipelago to be part of the World Heritage, a faithful reflection of the evangelical history of the Spanish and Jesuits, which left its mark on the culture, idiosyncrasy and urban landscape of this remote isle.
The churches are the island’s main historical bulwark, in addition to its indigenous traditions. Their uniqueness resides in their architecture, a fusion of the native Huilliche and Spanish cultures and the religious ideas of the evangelical Jesuits who began building Houses of God throughout the island as part of their mission to convert the indigenous people.
The Mythology of Chiloé
Chiloé’s mythology has its origins in a mixture of the ancient religions of its first inhabitants, the indigenous Huilliches, Cuncos and Onas, pre-Colombian peoples of the archipelago; and the myths and superstitions, especially Celtic, brought by the Spanish and other Europeans. Chiloé’s ‘Olympus’ is home to dozens of mythological characters. Most of them are zoomorphic beings of land or sea, capable of transformation. In general they are malevolent, with the potential to harm.
One of the most important of these divinities is the Pincoya, a poetic vision of a fisherman’s love for the beauty of the sea as a source of employment and food - and responsible for storms when she is in a bad mood. Another important figure is Thrauco, a dwarf satyr who is credited with many of the illegitimate births on Chiloé.
Chiloé’s cuisine is unique. With more than 400 types of potatoes, each with fascinating flavors and textures, and a wide variety of fish and shellfish harvested from the inland sea, Chiloé is an inexhaustible source of culinary delight.