Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Argentina - Estancia Jesuitica Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina Jesuit Estate)

Since the 17th century Cordoba was the capital of the Jesuit Province of Paraguay. With the objective of obtaining economic resources to sustain the novitiate, the school (Colegio Máximo) and the student’s residence the Jesuits founded a system of six estates or ranches consisting of a total of  approx. 900.000 hectares in 1767 (year of the expulsion of the Jesuits).

  • Santa Catalina with 157.000 ha, at one point had up to 520 enslaved persons. The productive system was oriented, among other activities, to mule rearing.
  • It had a walled ranch with a surface of nearly 3 ha. (at present an agreement is being formalized with the provincial authorities to consolidate its condition)
  • In 1773 the mayor of the first vote Francisco Antonio Diaz bought the estate, including slaves, cattle and tools, assuming the responsibility of patron of the church and continued with the agricultural exploitation. Since then it has been the property of some of his heirs who use the estate as a residence but whom also manage the estate with museum preservation standards. 
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- In 2014 UNESCO distinguished the Manzana and Estancias Jesuiticas de Cordoba as memory sites associated to UNESCO’s Slave Route Project. )

Accessibility: Public transportation reaches the city of Jesus Maria, 20 km away from Santa Catalina, from Jesus Maria you may take a taxi. In car, from Cordoba you may take the Ruta Nacional n° 9 (N) and its a 50 km journey to Jesus Maria, taking ruta E-66, at 5 km there is a dirt road ruta 17, and after 15 km you arrive at Santa Catalina. It is open to tourism, with some restrictions as to dates and schedule.
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Other data of interest


Historical name

Santa Catalina

Founding Date



Santa Catalina –Depto. Totoral - Córdoba

Phone numbers

54 9 0351 155503752
54 9 0351 157627861

Responsible entity

Council of Administration: Governor: Ms. Elvira de la Torre, Curatorship: Arch. Daniel M. de la Torre

Management plan

Yes, they have a management plan. It is part of a network called Red Conjuntos Jesuíticos de Córdoba and also part of the Slave Route Cordoba Group.

Web link




National monument Inscribed on the World Heritage List


Religious-ceremonial site Workplace Settlement Place of confinement

Access level


Current Use

Residential – Religious and tourist

Original use

Productive, residential and missionary

Property kind


Heritage documents under its protection

It has an archive which has been permanently increased with documents, digitalization and transcriptions.

It has information regarding the various valuations and inventories.

Works in paper have been protected according to preventive conservation standards. Training and advice has been received from other Jesuit Estates and the Regional Centre for the Preservation of Works in Paper.

Use given to this documentation: Internal use for the work of inventory and classification as well as other research. Occasionally, with the due conservation measures, it is used in research projects.

Expressions of intangible heritage associated

- Celebration of the Patron Saint: Religious ceremony to honour Saint Catherine of Alexandria, consisting in nine days of prayers that end on November 25th with a mass and procession, as well as social celebratory activities. These celebrations involve the community of the region and the Gaucho groupings. The Gaucho groupings preserve the traditions mostly horsemanship.

- Pageant in homage to Saint Catherine: Promise made by Felipe Diaz (ancestor of the present owners) who in 1840, when arrested by the federal police to have his throat slit (according to the customs of the period) was set free by his jailer who recognized his former master. The tradition has been upheld every year the last Sunday of January and it involves all the descendants (including those who are not the owners of the estate) and the public in general.

A solemn mass and a procession take place with religious images, which are dressed with robes from the 18th century.


  • World Heritage 2 December 2000
  • National Historic Monument 14 May 1941 by Decree Nº 90.732/ 41
  • identified as a memory site associated to UNESCO’s Slave Route Project. 2014