They are houses built on pillars or stilts on the shores of the sea, lakes and lagoons. The word in Spanish comes from the Italian term palafitta. In the XIX century they started to be used in Ancud, Quemchi, Castro, Chonchi and other ports to make the best of the island’s land during the strong commercial expansion taking place back then. Nowadays, this type of construction can only be seen in Castro (capital of the province of Chiloe).
They are made out of luma and Patagonian cypress tiles and their walls are painted in vibrant colors. For the islanders, these houses are safe shelter; they are free from humidity and their closeness to the sea makes them an ideal living place. They have two facades: one faces the street, which you reach by crossing a small bridge, and the other faces the ocean, with a top balcony and a lower terrace used for fishing activity, following the rhythm of the tide. This is where fishing boats are tied down.
This construction style is a distinctive trait of the Region of los Lagos because it is different from the typical tall buildings with balconies found all across the country. Stilt houses are the southernmost expression of the architectural style known as bordemar (shore architecture).
Stilt houses are one of the main attractions for foreign and local tourists visiting Chiloe. Pedro Montt and Gamboa are the two most popular neighborhoods in Castro because they have the most stilt houses.
These temples are made of wood and were erected between the XVIII and XX century. Due to their historical and architectural value, Unesco named 16 of these churches World Heritage Sites in December of 2000 and June of 2001.
– Tenaun church: it is located in the town bearing the same name. It was built between 1877 and 1902. It stands out for its three towers; a 25 meter tall central tower and two side ones. It is made of coigüe, cypress and Patagonian cypress.
– San Francisco de Castro church: it is located in the town square. In 1902, it was destroyed in a fire, so, four years later, a new one began construction, resulting in the church we can see today. This temple is different from traditional chilote churches.
– Chonchi church: also known as the San Carlos de Borromeo church, it was built in the late XIX century after the original one was knocked down because it was in terrible conditions. Neoclassical in style, it is made of cypress, coigüe and rauli wood.
– San Antonio de Colo church: it is found in Colo, a community 14 km from Quemchi. It is said this construction is from the XIX century. It is made out of coigüe and cypress wood. It has a tower and three arcs over its façade.
– San Juan Church: found in the area bearing the same name (in the comuna of Dalcahue), it was constructed in the early XIX century. The inside is mainly white with ornamental details in red and black.
– Dalcahue church: it is neoclassical and estimates say it was built in 1893. The base of the church is stone and the rest is made of cypress and coigüe wood. Its patron saint is Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows).
– Santa Maria de Achao church: found in the town of Achao, it is the oldest church in Chiloe. It was built by the Jesuits in the XVIII century. Its inner décor is baroque.
– Caguach church: located on the island of Caguach. The most important religious celebration of the year in Chiloe, the Fiesta del Nazareno (Nazarene Festivity), takes place here. It was built in the XVIII century.
– Rilan church: it is found in the township that bears the same name and is a neo-gothic church. The construction seen today was built in the early XX century (1908).
– Quinchao church: it was built in the mid XIX century and is one of the biggest churches in Chiloe. On December 8, thousands arrive to celebrate the festivities for Nuestra Señora de Gracia (Our Lady of Grace). It has a stone base and the rest is made out of cypress, Patagonian cypress, coigüe and mañio wood.
– Nercon church: it is located 4 km south of Castro. The present edification dates back to the mid XIX century. It is made out of cypress and Patagonian cypress and inside, its main trait is an image of San Miguel (Saint Michael, prince of the heavenly spirits or commander of the army of God).
– Chelin church: it is located on the island of the same name, near Castro. The present building dates back to the XIX century and is neoclassical in style. On August 30, the locals celebrate the festivities for Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary).
– Aldachildo church: it is located in Aldachildo, on the northern shore of Lemuy island. It was built back in the early XX century. Inside, the ceiling is painted blue with thousands of yellow stars.
– Vilipulli church: the edification seen today dates back to the XIX century and it is found in the township that bears the same name. Built from cypress, Patagonian cypress and coigüe, every June 13, people celebrate the festivities of San Antonio de Padua here (Saint Anthony of Padua).
– Detif church: located in the community that shares the same name, in the comuna of Puqueldon. The building seen today sates back to the early XX century and its main attraction are two wooden ships hanging from the ceiling. It is said they are two offerings donated by sailors.
– Ichuac church: located in the town of the same name (comuna of Puqueldon). It was built in the early XX century and its portico is painted in white, adorned with wooden stars.