Chiapas Most Popular Cultural Tourist Attractions in Mexico
Chiapas is Mexico’s southern border, a state of contrasting cultures and traditions offering visitors an attractive fusion of nature, native traditions and a productive future with the magic and color exhibited all along its streets and markets. The State of Chiapas is one with the mot biodiversity in the country, hosting part of the Lacandona Jungle with more than 20% of the Mexican fauna.
San Cristobal de las Casas
San Cristobal de las Casas, a city of over 200,000 inhabitants, is the cultural capital of Chiapas. The city has preserved its century-old houses, cobbled streets and colonial buildings, the most central being the main plaza or the Zocalo, around which tourists find local peoples selling handmade crafts and textiles in open-air markets. Surrounded by dozens of Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages San Cristobal is one the most deeply rooted indigenous areas in the country and a central starting point for exploration of Chiapas, the southern-most state in Mexico.
San Cristobal de las Casas is live proof of the importance of this cultural “melting pot”. Natives from Chiapas and Mestizos or mixed-raced inhabitants, actually share the streets and colonial buildings of this XVII century town, within an atmosphere of increasing tolerance and adaptation. One of the most attractive towns in Chiapas, it lies in the heart of the jungle on top of the northern mountains of the state. It can be reached by plane, or driving from the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez, via a new road that has reduce ed the trip to less than one hour, and in addition offers the possibility to enjoy the view, admire the pine forests around San Cristobal, and experience the hot and sunny days typical of this tropical area, usually followed by cold and rainy nights.
Local attractions include a XVII century cathedral, a festive blend of baroque Spanish architecture and ingenious native art; and the church and convent of Santo Domingo, of a pure and classic baroque. During most of the year, the areas surrounding the convent are transformed into indigenous markets, where the Chamula women, wearing their typical blue blouses and black skirts and serapes, offer a wide variety of garments and other hand-woven textiles. A gallery and shop that belongs to a cooperative of Tzotzile weavers and known as the Weavers House, can be found near the church of Santo Domingo.
Amber happens to be found in great quantities around the region, and the Amber Museum, housed in the former convent of La Merced, exhibits different types of fossilized resins, as well as the various methods for its extraction.
The towns of San Juan Chamula and Zinacatan are located near San Cristobal, and they offer great examples of indigenous art and tradition, as well as rites of both native and Christian nature performed inside the towns churches. These cult practices taking place inside a catholic church usually fascinate visitors, who can actually witness the interplay of symbols like the cross with magical potions and dead poultry.
This is the place of convergence between the archeological sites of Bonampak and Yaxchilan, and the reserve of the “Blue Lakes”, at the border with Guatemala.
It also houses a community museum of the same name founded in the year 1976, the result of the initiative of the natives with the support of the state government.
Bonampak is another of the Mayan ruins that evidence the grandeur of that culture, they not only developed an esthetic sense, but also painting techniques like the fresco that can still be observed on murals with war and religion topics. Access is winding but also implies an adventure, from Palenque there is a great path for appreciating the ecosystems of the Lacandona jungle.
Following the discovery of two stone scriptures known as Estelas in the ruins of Yaxchilan, Corozal Frontier became a regional academic center so that both residents and visitors could learn, among other things, about the ethnic groups that still live in the Lacandona jungle. The state compound is an effort to preserve the pre-Spaniard cultures, and even serves as a shelter for the natives when the water levels of the Usumacinta river become a threat to the indigenous communities.