Templo de San Juan

Top choice in Chiapas

Standing beside the main plaza, Chamula’s main church is a ghostly white, with a vividly painted arch of green and blue. Inside the darkened sanctuary, hundreds of flickering candles, clouds of copal incense, and worshippers kneeling with their faces to the pine-needle-carpeted floor make a powerful impression. Chamulans revere San Juan Bautista (St John the Baptist) above Christ. NOTE: It is strictly forbidden to take photos in the church. Please do not abuse the privilege of entering.

Chanting curanderos (literally ‘curers’; medicine men or women) may be treating their patients’ bodies with eggs or bones, and worshippers often drink soft drinks (burps are believed to expel evil spirits) or copious amounts of pox (alcohol made from sugarcane). Images of saints are surrounded with mirrors and dressed in holy garments.

You must obtain tickets (M$25) at the ticket office beside the plaza before entering.

Nearby, around the shell of an older church, is the village graveyard. Though it’s no longer practiced, traditionally black crosses were for people who died old, white for the young, and blue for others.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Chiapas attractions

1. Iglesia de San Lorenzo


The huge central Iglesia de San Lorenzo was rebuilt following a fire in 1975. Today there are often masses of flowers on the altar. Photography is banned…

2. Museo de la Medicina Maya

4.26 MILES

This space pays homage to the various techniques and practices of indigenous traditional medicine of the Tzotzil and Tzeltal peoples in Chiapas. The…

3. Templo de Mexicano

4.53 MILES

Attractive red-and-white church in one of the town's oldest neighbourhoods. Founded in 1594 as a small hermitage it was rebuilt as a larger church after…

4. Mercado Municipal

4.66 MILES

For a closer look at local life – and an assault on the senses – visit San Cristóbal’s busy municipal market, eight blocks north of the main plaza between…

5. Museo de los Altos de Chiapas

4.68 MILES

One of two world-class museums inside the Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo (on the western side of the Templo de Santo Domingo), this exhibits several…

6. Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya

4.68 MILES

Upstairs inside the Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo, this excellent museum showcases over 500 examples of handwoven textiles from throughout Mexico and…

8. Museo de Sergio Arturo Castro Martínez

4.71 MILES

The story behind this extraordinary collection – that's overseen by an even more extraordinary person, Don Sergio – is as interesting as the museum itself…