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San Juan Chamula

San Cristóbal de las Casas

Few communities represent religious syncretism so accurately. This small town located just 6 miles away from San Cristóbal de las Casas, is living proof of it. Its inhabitants, Tzotziles (in their entirety), profess the teachings, traditions and customs inherited from their prehispanic past, integrating them with Christian traditions that came along with colonization.

When you visit downtown, you will find the Plaza Central (The Central Plaza), which unlike others you have seen, does not have benches or trees around it. In its place you will see an ample empty space, where a small white chapel with aquamarine details stands out in the background.

This is the Church of San Juan Chamula, one of the most unusual temples that has ever been seen. Its decorative arches are full of striking colors, and behind its doors, only those who enter will know what lies within. Inside the premises, photographs are not allowed.

The interior of the temple is impregnated with the smell of copal (a type of incense), dense clouds of smoke run through its spaces and a puzzling atmosphere becomes visible. On the floor covered with sawdust, men and women are seen lighting candles that they later put on wooden tables.

Rituals with animals and shamanic healings take place 24/7, to enter you have to leave your belongings outside and/or safely stored: along with your camera, cell phone and also your own prejudices. “Open minded” is a phrase that has never made so much sense until now.

Upon leaving, a drink of pox (schnapps of corn, very popular in the Mayan culture) will complement your visit. Then go to the market, but do not look for it indoors, this is actually a flea market outdoors, where you can buy handicrafts, fruits or take-away food and other snacks prepared at the moment.

Take the opportunity to tour the town and soak up experiences that you can't find anywhere else.

Few communities represent religious syncretism so accurately. This small town located just 6 miles away from San Cristóbal de las Casas, is living proof of it. Its inhabitants, Tzotziles (in their entirety), profess the teachings, traditions and customs inherited from their prehispanic past, integrating them with Christian traditions that came along with colonization.

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When you visit downtown, you will find the Plaza Central (The Central Plaza), which unlike others you have seen, does not have benches or trees around it. In its place you will see an ample empty space, where a small white chapel with aquamarine details stands out in the background.

This is the Church of San Juan Chamula, one of the most unusual temples that has ever been seen. Its decorative arches are full of striking colors, and behind its doors, only those who enter will know what lies within. Inside the premises, photographs are not allowed.

The interior of the temple is impregnated with the smell of copal (a type of incense), dense clouds of smoke run through its spaces and a puzzling atmosphere becomes visible. On the floor covered with sawdust, men and women are seen lighting candles that they later put on wooden tables.

Rituals with animals and shamanic healings take place 24/7, to enter you have to leave your belongings outside and/or safely stored: along with your camera, cell phone and also your own prejudices. “Open minded” is a phrase that has never made so much sense until now.

Upon leaving, a drink of pox (schnapps of corn, very popular in the Mayan culture) will complement your visit. Then go to the market, but do not look for it indoors, this is actually a flea market outdoors, where you can buy handicrafts, fruits or take-away food and other snacks prepared at the moment.

Take the opportunity to tour the town and soak up experiences that you can't find anywhere else.

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