A special place to visit in San Cristobal de las Casa – Indigenous market and church Chamula

So, you’re going to visit San Cristobal de las Casas … Just to make sure you’re not overlooking the little paragraph in your guide book that says ‘Go, see Chamula, indigenous market and church’.

Here you go:


Ok, I hope you’ve seen it now and the importance is clear. Yes, there are many magical places in Mexico, like the 83 so called Pueblo Magico  (by the Tourism board of Mexico) for example. Even San Cristobal de las Casas is on that Pueblo Magico list. I personally thought San Cristobal is nice and well worth a multiple day visit but I missed the magic.

Now 10 km North of San Cristobal de las Casas is the small town San Juan Chamula. It’s entirely indigenous. Make sure to check out their market on Sunday. Indigenous people come from their village in the mountains to Chamula to sell the fruits of their work, be it handmade clothing, artwork or vegetables and fruits, for example huge blackberries.

The buildings look like in other small towns in Mexico including the church. From the outside, it’s a regular, small, Christian church. But go inside!! It’s truly magical!

Women wear long, black goat skin skirts. And men sometimes wear knee-long sweaters made from the same material. Even when it’s blazing hot.

You can’t take any pictures, photographs, videos in the church. Respect that or you’re in trouble.

Now get inside. And for a moment you might think something is missing. And then you realize that there is not a single bench in the church. It might take a little longer till you realize this since the massive amount of candles have created a thick, smokey air.

Make sure not to slip on the carpet of pine needles. Actually really watch your step because there are very thin candles everywhere. 

Families are sitting on the floor, with rows of more candles in front of them. Hear the chanting in maya language, see the chickens that they’ve brought to sacrifice to get rid of evil things and diseases. See the Coca Cola bottles they brought for burping and releasing the bad things inside their bodies.

If you have some time sit down and be there in the moment with them. You might also see the figures of Saints that have to look at the wall instead of the church visitors. It’s a place full of mysteries. 

I’d go again. Just to sit in the church and be in this other world for some time.

Good to know

  • Bring cash! Small bills! We had a couple of times problems paying with 200 peso bills. The people in this town aren’t used to ‘that big bills’ and you might run into problems paying your lunch.
  • Entrance fee to the church is 25 pesos. They buy new pine needles with the money. 

Further reading

How to get there

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  11 comments for “A special place to visit in San Cristobal de las Casa – Indigenous market and church Chamula

  1. February 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for tips. I adore visiting sacral monuments 🙂

  2. nicolelabargecm
    February 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    That church is magical. Worth a visit and I like the tip to bring small bills.

  3. stylishtravlr
    February 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Every post I am reading about Mexico surprise me more and more. When I used to live in America I wasn’t even thinking to visit the south but now I would love to get the chance to fly there so easily and quickly as its seems like its such a beautiful country !!

  4. February 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve not gone to Chiapas yet, but it’s on my list. I’ll be adding Chamula!

  5. February 15, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I visited during my month travel in México and I didn’t see the chickens you speak of, but the rest rings true. It felt like real family time inside the Church, moms and grandmothers with their children, or a father and mother with a child. It was definitely unlike any church I had ever seen though. I’d love to go back on another visit to CHIAPAS, México

  6. February 15, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Here is what I have to say after reading this post…I AM GOING TO THIS CHURCH!! Lol. No seriously, though. I will be in Mexico in a few months and I definitely want to check it out! It sounds so magical so thank you for bringing it to my attention!

    • February 15, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      AWESOME!!! I’m glad you’ll do it. Bring some time to just hang out there!

  7. February 15, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    There are some places in Arizona that remind me of these. They are so beautiful, and peaceful (yet alive). I would love to visit these places. Great post.

  8. February 16, 2017 at 3:42 am

    Love the colourful market and great footage of the locals. Great tip to see this village off the tourist trail – the church sounds like an experience!

  9. February 16, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Wow Inge, you really made me curious about the inside of that church! Mexico is still on our bucket list (together with a bunch of other spots), so we hope to make it there some day!

  10. February 16, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I loved the video – so atmospherical (and I did not think that was a town of 77k!)

    Continued happy travels!

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