San Cristobal de las Casas was the capital of Chiapas until 1892 and is still considered the cultural capital of the state. Best explored on foot, the historic center of San Cristobal de las Casas is laid out in a grid pattern with narrow cobblestone streets and colonial-style buildings made of concrete and stone with red clay tile roofs and wrought iron balconies. Here you’ll find many Chiapas attractions including the city’s Cathedral and several architecturally significant churches and civil buildings.
The Cathedral in San Cristobal is the focal point of the city. It was built during the 16th and 17th centuries and restored in the 1920s. The mustard yellow and white facade blends Baroque, Moorish and indigenous influences. Step inside the Cathedral to find gilded altarpieces and 18th century paintings by Miguel Cabrera.
The Templo del Carmen (Carmen Church) with its simple facade and 18th century Moorish-style arch tower is all that remains of the former convent of La Encarnacion. The church and convent, built during the 17th century, once served as the entranceway to the city.
Originally built in the 18th century, the Templo de la Merced (Merced Church) has been mostly rebuilt during the 20th century. The stucco decorations on the interior columns are original. The former Merced convent houses the city’s amber museum.
The Templo de San Nicolas (San Nicolas Church), located behind the Cathedral and facing into the central plaza, is the only church in the San Cristobal to retain its original simplistic design.
On the southern side of the central plaza, La Casa de la Sirena (Siren House) is one of the oldest civil buildings in San Cristobal. The walls and columns of the Siren House are adorned with the figures of lions and seahorses. Try to find the mermaid.