Churches of San Cristobal De Las Casas

Churches of San Cristobal De Las Casas


I haven’t been able to find out why there are so many churches in such a small area but it is one of the features of San Cristobal DLC. We have visited most of the churches in town, often by accident. They are hard to avoid since the seem to be en route to wherever you are planning to go. Unfortunately for us many of them were closed for renovations because of the earthquake last year. But they still had pretty murals on the safety walls surrounding the church.

Typical of the churches that are in use are chandeliers to light the church and fresh bouquets of flowers throughout. In any of the churches are many statues of various saints or versions of Mother Mary or Jesus. Some also have supporting characters.

Iglesia means church and templo means temple

The Cathedral of San Cristobal

This cathedral is in the centre of town and has a large square in front of it which hosts night markets. This one is famous for it’s beautiful colours and intricate designs. 

Templo De Santo Domingo and Ex-Convent

This church with it’s attached ex convent is my favourite. I’m not embarrassed to say that it’s not because of the church but because of the amazing markets right outside. These markets have hand-made authentic indigenous crafts and clothing from the surrounding areas. There was so much selection I wanted to constantly shop. Fortunately or unfortunately, luggage restrictions meant I could only be a few items.

The design on the outside is beautiful and we did have access to the inside through a side entry. Most of the interior was covered with sheets as part of it’s restoration so we only glimpsed some of the ornate designs underneath.

Templo De San Francisco 

This church is one of the few that is actively used. Many of the churches are now museums or closed for restoration due to last years earthquake.

Iglesia De Guadalupe

High on one of the hills in San Cristobal sits the Guadalupe church where pilgrims from all over Chiapas and beyond journey to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 12th of December. These pics were taken during the festivities. It is not usually this busy or festive looking outside of festival seasons. Along with the decorations were lots of big bangs from, I want to say fireworks, but it was more like dynamite going off. It is said to accentuate their prayers making their prayers louder.

The crucifix with Jesus on it had His loin cloth a bright orange material befitting the festive mood.

Iglesia De San Cristobal

Higher up on another hill sits the Church of San Cristobal. Because we are 2200 metres above sea level the climb up these stairs made me a breathless sooner than I expected. There were murals all along the walls as we walked up the stairs.

It was a cool crisp December air up on top of the hill and a panoramic view of town and inside the church the sacristy is hidden by Christmas decorations. On the left a makeshift waterfall leads to the baptismal font.  

Other churches we came across

On the left is Templo De San Augustin on Calle Insurgentes, close to the artisan markets, out of action due to restoration.  

In the middle is Templo De Santa Lucia, very close to Templo De San Augustin and also on Insurgentes. It was out of action due to a restoration project, as with most of the churches in the city. However, this one had a side room open where parishioners could still celebrate mass as well as other church functions.

On the perimeter of the city, where the historical city ends, is the Iglesia De San Diego. The flags are put up during a festive season such as Christmas.


Horse riding

Grutas de Rancho Nuevo

Grutas de Rancho Nuevo


We did not book enough time at this place. There are caves to explore, horses to ride, different foods to try, a market with indigenous goods for souvenir shopping and best of all a playground with a massive slide designed for adults. Skip to the end for the summary if you don’t have time to read this.

Nuevo Rancho

This ecotourist park is run by a community organisation known as an ejidal. Ejidals are based on the Aztec Calpulli organisation which are small organisational communities that control the land and are collectively responsible for the area. It costs 10 pesos per person over six to enter.

The park itself is a pine forest and is a great place for a picnic and has lots of barbecue sites. We saw many families parked next to a bbq having lunch. Some had even put up a hammock to laze on.

The ranch has quite a few horses so we didn’t have to wait long for two to become available. Ajay and Giselle went for a half hour ride through the pine forest. I don’t remember how much they paid per person but it was not costly at all.

Carmelo and I took Kenzo to the playground to have a play while Lui slept snugly in my arms. 

But the colours of the market place distracted me and we found ourselves browsing local souvenirs. Carmelo picked up obsidian magnets. Obsidian is one of the locally mined stones in Chiapas.

Once Giselle and Ajay and finished we went to the food hall to eat. It had lots of food options to suit American and Mexican tastes.

After we ate, we tried out the concrete slides. There were two sets, one for children and one for adults. In the photo you can see me sliding down the adult set of slides holding Kenzo.  I’m sitting on a flattened coke bottle to make the ride sliperrier. This slide was such a bonus. You can also see the slide behind Kenzo on the green posts.

The Caves

The caves are a 20 peso entry fee for over five year olds. It has a proper pathway to journey deep down into it. There are stunning stalactites and stalagmites to view some of which are still growing as water seeps in from above.

Once you reach the end of the cave there is an option to venture deeper down for 30 pesos per person. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check this out but apparently you can see crystals in there.

Makeshift Church

What was amazing was the church that was setup for the most celebrated feast day in Mexico, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This church was decorated as per local indigenous traditions for sacred ceremonies. There were pineneedles on the ground fresh from the pine trees surrounding the area. There were pineapples, banana bunches and other fruits hanging around the edge of the tent. There were Mexican coloured decorations inside. And there were lots and lots of flowers everywhere as well as many images of Mary.

Since it was the 12th of December we had the opportunity of seeing pilgrims arrive here on their journey to San Cristobal, some on foot, many on motorbikes and still more on buses.

Getting There

This place is 12km from the city and is accessible from highway 190 the same highway that leads to Comitan.

There are colectivos that go past Nuevo Rancho but we honestly couldn’t be bothered with them. We would have had to catch a taxi to the main highway and then catch the colectivo. Then once we got out of the colectivo we would have had to walk about twenty minutes to reach the ranch. Instead we took a taxi for 150 pesos which took us all the way to the main attraction.

I didn’t see any taxis waiting there so perhaps you can call for one but we organised the same taxi to pick us up a few hours later. Unfortunately he couldn’t enter the park to pick us up so he waited at the gate which was a ten minute walk for us once we had finished up.

I highly recommend allocating three to four hours here. We booked two and a half hours and found it was not enough. And definitely try the concrete slide!


-150 pesos by taxi from Centro to get here however there is the option of a colectivo

– 10 pesos to enter the park per person over five years old

– 20 pesos per person to enter the caves and 30 pesos to see the crystals deeper down

– Horse riding for all levels is available taking you through the pine forest

– A playground for little ones and big slides for adults is an added bonus

– A food hall to suit all aged children and the parents

– Markets to browse and find some warm clothing or souvenirs

– Book a taxi to pick you up at the end because there were no taxis waiting around to take you back

Canon Del Sumidero

Canon Del Sumidero

Canon Del Sumidero



At each stop I reached down and put my hand in the cool river, until we reached the crocodile stop. Kenzo said “Mum don’t put your hand in the water.”

It was so hot I took my jacket off and left it on the empty seat at the back of the boat. At one point it blew away and Ajay caught it. Later I used my jacket to keep the sun off Lui, and shield him from the breeze, as he slept. It was about twenty minutes later that Ajay said Oh no, we lost mum’s jacket. I hadn’t heard him because of the noise of the engine. Carmelo smirked because he had passed me the jacket but said nothing to his dad 🙂

Watching eagles soar above, cranes and herons perch on the waterside, ducks floating on the water and other birds flying low beside us as the boat vvvvvd along.

The height of the cliffs were magnificent. 

Getting underneath the waterfall and seeing all the pretty foliage and flowers.


There were bays along the trip where a lot of rubbish had accumulated in the water. It gets quite disturbing. The locals try to clean it up regularly but it washes down from villages further up the long river.

Having to carry your jacket because it’s cold in the mountains and then super hot when you come down to sea level where the canyon is.

The Canyon

The walls of this canyon at it’s highest point is 1000 metres and has the Grijalva River running through it. On a morbid note, in the 1534 when the Spaniards invaded this area many locals preferred suicide from Tepetchia rock rather than be enslaved by the Spanish. 

We took a two hour boat ride through it that began by a bridge and ended by the hydro dam Manuel Moreno Torres. It has been designated an internationally recognised wetland site for the protection of it’s birds and other wildlife.

The Chiapas flag features the canyon at it’s highest point. 

The Birds and Reptiles

We didn’t see the monkeys or jaguars that live in the jungle surrounding this canyon but we did see iguanas and crocodiles. There were plenty of pelicans, herons, ducks and plenty of other birds that made the canyon more enchanting.

The Flora and Fauna

The canyon has a humid climate that supports lots of orchids, bromeliads, ferns, mangroves and more. There’s also a famous Christmas Tree which is a waterfall that has created mossy ledges that extend out like the branches of a Christmas Tree.

Iglesia de Santa Domingo



I fell in love with Chiapas when we entered San Cristobal De Las Casas. Chiapas boasts great coffee, great chocolate, colonial Spanish towns, cloud forests and Mayan ruins.

Our Glimpse of Chiapas

Canon Del Sumidero

Highlights At each stop I reached down and put my hand in the cool river, until we reached the crocodile stop. Kenzo said “Mum don’t

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I fell in love with Chiapas when we entered San Cristobal De Las Casas. Chiapas boasts great coffee, great chocolate, colonial Spanish towns, cloud forests

Read More »

Take Your Family To Mexico

Mexico often gets bad media attention and many people are hesitant to visit there, let alone take their kids there. And I’ll be honest, we were scared of those stories about your children being kidnapped. But after spending three months there, if you’re wondering if you should take the family to Mexico, we would say “Take your family to Mexico!”

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Pilgrims making their way to the Church of Guadalupe

San Cristobal DLC Celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe

San Cristobal DLC Celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe


The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12th

In Mexico the patron saint is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her feast day is December 12th and locals say it is the biggest celebration in Mexico, bigger than Christmas. We began seeing this festival in Isla Mujeres. As Catholics do nine day novenas, many of the faithful Guadalupe would have started on the 3rd of December so that it would finish on the 11th in time for the festivals at 11pm mass to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In San Cristobal De Las Casas in Chiapas there is a church in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pilgrims from all over Mexico will travel in organised groups to Mexico City to the official shrine where San Juan saw the apparition of Mother Mary over 500 years ago. For those that are unable to reach Tepeyac will pilgrim to Iglesia de Guadalupe (Church of Guadalupe) instead. This pilgrimage aims to reach the church and return back to their home town parish by 11th December in time for the 11pm mass and festivities.

The Runners

When we arrived in Chiapas on December 9th, we took a taxi from the Tuxtla airport at sea level to San Cristobal DLC which is over 2000 metres above sea level. The temperature changes from warm tropical climates to cooler mountain jungle climates. As we travelled we kept passing a truck or a ute that would carry at least ten people in the back. The front would be decorated with flowers and have a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Behind or in front of that truck would be a runner carrying a burning torch. We asked our driver about this but he spoke no English so we struggled to understand his explanation. Basically we understood it was a pilgrimage.

Procession to Iglesia de Guadalupe 

As we wandered the colonial streets of San Cristobal on December 10th we saw many of the pilgrimage groups arriving and leaving the city. We decided to follow them since they were heading in a particular direction, chanting or singing or praying. As we reached Real de Guadalupe which is the street from the centre of town that leads up to Iglesia de Guadalupe, we saw the groups were all walking, often lead by musicians who played cheerful music while one person would cry out a phrase and the rest would shout a response. Some groups handed out sweets to the children who watched. We kept hearing fireworks day and night as each group reached and then would celebrate with loud explosions that produce no light display but are simply to accentuate the loudness of their prayers/thankgivings.

Many of them looked exhausted and worn but their spirit was so alive. It was a humbling experience to watch these people who had taken on an arduous journey, having travelled day and night, keeping their torch alight, and keeping their faith alive. They came with prayers for the future or for thanksgiving of prayers having been fulfilled. Some mothers carried babies in their slings. Some groups had small children with them. Many of the groups had a team outfit which usually was a white t-shirt with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but some had matching track suits.

At the base of the church entry were rides for a fair including a Ferris wheel and go-karts. As we walked up the 79 stairs to the church, there were food and toy stalls and we could hear all sorts of festive music playing. Outside the church was a live band playing traditional music and some people got the urge to dance along to it. We could see some of the torches of groups outside the church still alight.

Inside, the groups that had finally reached were on their knees walking up to the altar while singing or praying. There was a beautiful shrine to Mother Mary above the sacristy and to the left a beautifully decorated scene of San Juan receiving the roses from Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was lovely to see Jesus in a locally made bright orange cloth as he hung on the cross. 

When each group finished they would then move out the front of the church to the right. I’m not sure how many of them would walk back to their village or home town versus catch a ride but a change washed over their posture and face. Many of them were in celebratory mode after they had finished. You could see the joy on their faces like they were now in party mode. 

Fireworks on the Eve of the Feast Day 

One of the locals tipped us off that on December 11th at 12pm there would be fireworks going all the way up the street to Iglesia de Guadalupe, the part that becomes pedestrians only during this festival. We decided to be in a cafe at that time so we could comfortably wait for it to start but also hide from the noise if needed.

At 11:30am we saw a group including young children, helping to lay a row of gunpowder down and then place small “bombs” about a metre apart. This was exciting because I’d never seen gun powder lit except in movies.

We were enjoying our hot chocolate, brewed with local cocoa from Chiapas when we heard the first BOOM go off at 12pm. We went outside to have a look.

From a block away we could see the fire of the gun powder and hear a “Boom” every few seconds. There was huge puffs of smoke after each bang. “That’s not too loud” I said. A group of people were walking ahead of it to ensure it continued to burn. Another group were walking ahead of it for the excitement of the noise. The little ones wanted to go hide inside and I wanted to be outside watching the little fireworks combust into a ball of fire and then create thick smoke.

By the time the gunpowder was a hundred meters down the road we were all hiding in the cafe with the doors closed because it was so loud. The ground shook and we were covering our ears but still hearing thundering BANGs in our head. 

After I thought it had passed I opened the door and peeked outside. It was about 100 metres up the road. BANG! It made me jump. BANG! The noise was defeating but thrilling. BANG! I had to go back inside. BANG! It was way too loud still. 

Though the experience was exciting and I loved it, it also was scary if I thought about that type of noise in a war zone – after all, they were using gun powder to create each explosion.

Anyway, we all left happier for having made the effort to come back to this side of town for fireworks.

Our Glimpse of Chiapas


Houses and Streets of San Cristobal De Las Casas

Houses and Streets of San Cristobal De Las Casas


One can’t visit San Cristobal De Las Casas and not be enamoured by the cobblestone streets, the decorated homes and the variety of colour. We were so enchanted we took loads of photos!

The Cobblestone Streets

Lots of uniquely paved streets. There are so many tantalising visuals in San Cristobal that it’s easy to miss but definitely taking the time to notice. These roads were not made for the amount of people using them every day so ninety percent of them are one way streets that allow for parking on one side of the road.

Notice that the pavement is also very narrow which keeps things interesting when you are passing people. Often someone gives way by walking on the street. Or if there is a lot of traffic then we squeeze past each other carefully. 

We did have an incident where Giselle was carrying Lui and slipped off one of the high curbs onto the road. Fortunately the group passing us called out to the police car that was driving past to stop. The police car’s tyre stopped an inch short of running over her foot. The police car waited, holding up traffic behind them (an offence to many drivers in SCDLC), to check if we were all ok. Once I’d picked up Lui and she was on her feet and walking again, after the shock, the police drove on.

The Colourful Homes

We love the variety of colours that are used and we notice many people are regularly up-keeping their place by calling on painters for a spruce up or to re-varnish doors.

The Murals

There are so many beautiful and interesting murals decorating walls in unsuspecting places. Some are down quiet streets, some are in run down areas to keep the place looking well maintained. Many of them are tagged with the artist’s instagram or facebook profile.

The Adornmants on the Buildings

To add to the interesting features of the streets, there are beautiful adornments such as pretty light fixtures or balconies, nicely framed doors or windows, pot plants lined up on walls or designs carved into the wall.

Rural Mexico has a lot of old Volkswagen Beetles

Vehicles in San Cristobal

Vehicles in San Cristobal


Police Vehicles

We have seen many police Utes, police motorbikes and police cars. They are the same as what we saw in Isla Mujeres and Cancun. But one thing we have seen here in San Cristobal are police bicycles. The streets can be very narrow and there are three main pedestrian streets where it is much easier for police to patrol using a bike rather than a motorised vehicle. And we did see one pink police car.

 Rescue Vehicles

The ambulances seem to vary in colour and we have not yet seen a fire truck.


When there is a festival, people decorate their trucks. For the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe there were many big and small trucks that had Her picture with flowers on the sides, front and back of the truck. 

There are many armoured trucks manned by men carrying guns.

We also saw their rubbish trucks which do not have automatic bin emptiers, they need people to empty the bins into them.

Tourist Buses

There are lots of different tourist buses here in San Cristobal because there are lots of tourists here  🙂


Many people use motorbikes to travel. Here are some of the interesting varieties we saw. 

Volkswagon Beetle

In New Zealand it’s more commonly known as the VDub but here it’s a common form of transport. There used to be a VW plant that produced the beetle so there are many still floating around.

Other Vehicles

We don’t see many construction vehicles here. A lot of construction sites have people doing the labour instead of engines. We have seen a few floats as part of a parade though.