During any visit to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, you’ll undoubtedly wind up at the town’s central Cathedral, which overlooks the main plaza in the center of town.
If dressed appropriately, go inside this yellow structure to see local residents stopping to pray among the gold leaf flanked interior. This Cathedral dates back more than two centuries and is the site of Pope Francis’s visit in February 2016.
For those who are into churches, don’t only visit the cathedral because you’ll find many beautifully adorned structures all around town.
Here’s a listing of some of the ones in San Cristobal, and click here for a Google Map with these locations on it.
The Cathedral of San Cristobal de las Casas
Constructed around 1528, this cathedral sits on the main square. The beautiful yellow color is most stunning around sunset. It was renovated in the 18th century.
The plaza in front of this cathedral is a gathering place and is always full of life. This is a can’t miss place that is very representative of the city. It was a picture of this cathedral that spurred my interest in traveling to San Cristobal.
Templo de San Nicolás
This small church faces Parque central and is behind the main cathedral. Originally built to serve the indigenous population, it is much smaller and simpler than other churches. It is the only church in the city that retains its original form.
It’s located at the corner of Real de Guadalupe and Avenue Ultrilla.
I wasn’t able to visit the inside of this church as it didn’t seem to be open as regularly. Another site indicate that it now serves as a Diocesan museum, open limited hours.
Templo y Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
This is church was built in 1547 by the Dominicans. The baroque facade is covered with carvings. Restored in 2006, at the time of my visit, it was also covered with netting, no doubt to keep the pigeons off it. The interior is beautiful as well. This church is constantly surrounded by a huge craft market, at which the local indigenous people sell weavings, textiles, and other goods.
Located on Ave 20 de Noviembre, between Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Templo de la Caridad
Located near the Templo y Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, this church was founded in 1712. This church was difficult to photograph, as it is also surrounded by the large artisan market that envelops several blocks.
The church is located on Utrilla near Comitan. The style is baroque.
Templo y Ex-Convento de la Merced
Located on Diego de Mazariegos near 12 de Octubre, this church sits on a beautiful, well-landscaped plaza. The church has been heavily renovated over time. The convent next door is now open as an Amber Museum. Entry to the museum allows you to see more of the convent area. The church was being repaired during my visit, as is evident from the concrete patches on the front.
Templo de San Cristobal (El Cerrito)
This lovely small church can be reached by climbing a series of 240 stairs up a small cerrito (hill). If you’re not used to altitude or out of shape, you can take a taxi which will drive up the back side of the hill.
Located where Hermanos Dominguez dead ends into Ignacio Allende. The view is superb. The church dates to the 18th century.
Templo de Guadalupe
Another church that requires climbing many steps is the Templo de Guadalupe. Reached by walking west on Real de Guadalupe. This church is visible from quite a distance due to its height.
Built-in 1834, there are 79 steps leading to the top of the hill. The view is excellent, it is well worth a visit.
Templo de Mexicanos
One of my favorites is the Templo de Mexicanos. A beautful, bigger church with red and white paint. No background information is given in any guide I have. Has a date of 1904 on the front, but that’s likely for a renovation or addition. It seems much older than that.
Located on a small plaza on 16 de Septiembre and Nicaragua.
Templo de el Cerrillo
Located on the plaza de el Cerrillo, which could be easily found at the corner of Comitan and Dominguez. This is a small church, not far from Santo Domingo.
It has the date of 1890 written on it, which is when the facade was built. The original structure dates to the 1700s.
Templo de San Francisco
Founded in 1577 by the Franciscans, it is located at Insurgentes and Heroes Ninos Dominguez. It sits on a small plaza which often has food vendors.
It’s a pretty stark facade. The interior is beautiful.
Templo de Santa Lucia
An interesting blue and white painted neo-classical church, Templo de Santa Lucia is located on Insurgentes and Obregon, just a few blocks south of the Templo de San Francisco.
It was built between 1884 and 1892.
Templo El Calvario
Located due west of La Merced along Mazariegos, this one wasn’t even on the map. It dates to the 18th century.
It’s surrounded by a beautiful series of gardens, and the entire plaza was locked when I first arrived. I came back later, around 6:00 p.m., and it was open. I had to ask a local man for the name. Well worth a visit.
Templo de la Compania
Located on Ninos Heroes and Cresencio Rojas, this church may also be known as the San Agustin church. The design is somewhat different. It has a small plaza out front. It now serves as an auditorium.
Templo y Ex-Convento Del Carmen
Located on Hermanos Dominguez and Hidalgo, this is attached to the Arco del Carmen. Fronted by a beautiful garden, this is an interesting church that dates to the 1600s.
The attached arch shown to the right is one of the most photographed symbols in and around San Cristobal.
Iglesia San Diego
Located on the Pan American Highway where Juarez and Carranza meet, somewhat south-east of the Centro area.
This is a small, rather unremarkable blue and white church that sits on a concrete plaza near the highway. It wasn’t open when I visited, and I don’t have much more information on it. Dated 1946 on the front.
Found on a small, leafy plaza south of el Cerrito, I know nothing about this church. I found it while wandering around a mostly residential neighborhood. The name is a guess based on what is written on the front.
You’ll not only be rewarded by the ornate churches, but you’ll earn stunning views of San Cristobal de las Casas down below.
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