San Cristobal’s museums highlight the fascinating indigenous culture and rich traditions of Chiapas. Begin your cultural immersion is at Casa Na-Bolom, a museum and research center housed in the former private home of anthropologists Frans and Trudy Blom. Along with a collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts, books and photographs, this important Chiapas attraction also offers guestrooms, a garden and restaurant on site.
The Bloms dedicated their lives to studying and documenting the indigenous people of the Chiapas region, particularly the Lacandon peoples of eastern Chiapas. The name of their home, Casa Na-Bolom, translates to “Jaguar House” in Tzotzil Maya.
San Cristobal’s Museo de la Medicina Maya (Maya Medicine Museum) is run by a group of indigenous healers, midwives and herbalists. The museum exhibits focus on traditional Mayan medicine, herbs and healing rituals, many of which are still practiced today by the indigenous Maya in the neighboring highland villages around San Cristobal.
The Chiapas region is one of the world’s top producers of amber. Most of it is mined around the town of Simijoval, located north of San Cristobal. At the Museo del Ambar (Amber Museum) housed in San Cristobal’s former Merced convent, you can view an extensive collection of raw and sculpted amber and learn about the mining and shaping processes.
The history of jade in Chiapas traces back to the pre-Hispanic civilizations that inhabited central and southern Mexico. On display at the Museo Mesoamericano del Jade (Mesoamerican Jade Museum) are replicas of jade pieces used by the ancient civilizations and a timeline explaining their use.
Textiles and traditional dress also play an important role in the local indigenous communities. A private collection of costumes, clothing and textiles worn by the indigenous peoples of Chiapas is on display at the Museo de Trajes Regionales (Traditional Dress Museum). Visits are by appointment only.