San Cristobál de las Casas is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico which still preserves its urban layout that combines Hispanic and indigenous culture. Its iconic cathedrals and temples, museums, strong indigenous culture and various visitors make this city of magic, tradition and legends.
The strong religious manifestation is quickly noted in its temples that still stand today. It is the result of the great impact from the collision between two distant cultures; beliefs and faiths fused in a melting pot of a new land born through great forces.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is one of the colonial cities that still preserves its squares, cobblestone streets and red-tiled roofs, as well as traditional markets where the indigenous peoples of the region gather to offer everything from produce, ceramics to colorful traditional textiles.
In this city, one of the most beautiful in Mexico for its harmonious urban make-up, you can discover imposing places of worship such as The Cathedral or The Temple of Santo Domingo, profusely covered in fine Baroque detail. You can also find various indigenous-made products from the Tzotzil, Tzeltal and Lacandon community which reside around the city. These include objects of everyday use, handicrafts and even pre-Hispanic pieces safely guarded in institutions of deep anthropological tradition and philanthropy such as the Na-Bolom Museum or the Cultural Centre of the Highlands of Chiapas.
For shopping, we recommend the arts and textile markets which you can find close to The Cathedral such as the House of Handicrafts on Av. Hidalgo and the "José Castillo Tielemans" market.
You can also visit the earthenware and basketwork shops which you can find along the Real de Guadalupe Street. Here you can find all kinds of items to remember you trip by.
The towns around San Cristóbal de las Casas such as San Juan Chamula are proof of the magical ambience that surrounds this city. San Juan Chamula is host to one of the most colorful and significant carnivals of tradition. From here, you can take trips to places rich in nature such as the Huitepec Ecological Reserve, where you can find one of the best biodiversity of the region, or El Arcotete, where you can descend by rappel down astounding walls of over 30 meters in height.
In San Cristóbal de las Casas, you can admire the picturesque landscapes on offer with its red-tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and notable examples of colonial architecture that reflects the importance of history in this city.
The Temple of Santo Domingo
It is located north of the Plaza 31 de Marzo. Constructed between the 16th and 17th centuries, the Diocese of Chiapas is seated in this temple. Its frontal design integrates Baroque elements whereas the inside, generous mortar decoration highlight the presence of altarpiece in the style of Solomon. It is open everyday from 8:00AM to 7:00PM.
“Plaza 31 de Marzo” Park
It is located in the center of San Cristóbal de las Casas between Real de Guadalupe and General Urtrilla Streets. It is the main meeting point of many people in the city and also where the main administrative buildings and places of worships are found. It has a pavilion from the 20th century where numerous artistic and popular events are held.
Temple and Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán
It is located on Av. 20 de Noviembre. It is one of the most beautiful and symbolic temples of the city. The Baroque Solomon style decoration covering its entire façade features ornamental indigenous designs in mortar. You will not miss a pair of two-headed eagles that flank the sculpture of Santo Domingo. It is open daily from 8:00 AM to 7:00PM.
Templo del Carmen
This temple is located between Hermanos Domínguez Street and Av. Miguel Hidalgo. Built between the 16th and 17th centuries, this building still preserves its original characteristics of its simple façade and arched tower, added in the 18th century in Múdejar style. It is open everyday from 8:00AM to 7:00PM.
Casa de La Sirena
It is located on the south end of the Plaza 31 de Marzo. Built in plateresque style in the 16th century, it is one of the oldest civil buildings in the city. Among several features that stand out include the figures of lions and seahorses on its walls and columns, as well as the mermaid found in one of its corners.
Around San Cristóbal de las Casas you can find ample outdoor spaces to do all types of activities, from rock-climbing to exploring underground tunnels, adorned with extraordinary limestone formation.
El Chorreadero waterfall
The waterfall is located in Chiapa de Corzo, over 60km west of San Cristóbal de las Casas by Highway No. 190. In this 25-meter waterfall, you can explore a cave with various limestone stalactite and stalagmites, great of speleology studies.
Here, you will also visit a great gallery of rocks which marks the start of the fall, with the natural pools as its base. The walls of the waterfall are great for rappelling.
It is located 4km northeast of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Here you can find an arch sculpted by the moving waters. The walls of this natural formation is great for activities such as wall-climbing, speleology and rappelling from heights that reach 35 meters. It is open everyday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.
Rancho Nuevo Ecological Reserve
This ranch is located 10km southeast of San Cristóbal de las Casas by Federal Highway No. 190. Here you can find a network of caves with a longitude of 10km and a depth of 550 meters, making it ideal for speleology in an impressive cave hall decorated with stalactite and stalagmites.
A Brief Tour of the Museums of San Cristóbal de las Casas
In this museum which bears the Mayan name “House of Jaguars”, you can find an interesting ethnographic hall with objects of interest and photos of the different indigenous groups in Chiapas, with a special highlight on the Lacandon community. You will also see an enclosure that houses pieces found in the Moxviquil archeological site and a hall with excellent textiles produced in the region. On top of its permanent exhibitions, Na-Bolom has two spaces for temporary exhibitions of plastic arts, photography and handicraft. Husband and wife Frans Bloom and Gertrude Duby, intellectuals and Chiapanecan culture and peoples enthusiasts, founded the museum in 1950. The museum was converted from a large old house in Neo-Classic style, built at the end of the 19th century. One thing that makes the “House of Jaguars” so unique is its lodging facility for researchers and its extensive library with 10,000 titles relating Chiapas.
Mesoamerican Museum of Jade
This museum exhibits pieces and other monuments made of jade from Olmec, Mayan and Aztec culture. It includes a replica of the Tomb of Pakal, ruler of Palenque.
Museum of the Highlands
This is a time capsule into the past where you can learn and recall the momentous events in the history of San Cristóbal de las Casas. One of its most prized pieces include the petals of pomegranate from the Santísimo de la Catedral, one of the masterpieces of Chiapanecan precious-metal craftwork. Inside the museum, there is an attractive handicrafts shop called Sna Jolobil, a Tzotzil word which means “House of Weaves”. Magnificent textiles with Mayan motives are exhibited and sold here. You can find this museum in the Cultural Centre of the Highlands, in an old convent of Santo Domingo.
This unique space presents a collection of 350 pieces of amber, a fossilized resin from Mesozoic trees, originating from the mines of Chiapas. It is located in the ex-convent of La Merced and was inaugurated in December 2000. It is the only museum of its kind in the Americas and one of the very few that exists in the world.