Chamula Travel Guide

  • Local Indians in Chamula
    Local Indians in Chamula
    by Kuznetsov_Sergey
  • Local Indians in Chamula
    Local Indians in Chamula
    by Kuznetsov_Sergey
  • Church of San Juan
    Church of San Juan
    by Kuznetsov_Sergey

Chamula Things to Do

  • San Sebastian Church ruins

    The church of San Sebastian is another church which can be seen in Chamula. Unfortunately it is destroyed and you will see its ruins. We have been told that for its destruction the resident saints were punished. A large cemetery is located close to it.

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  • Church of San Juan

    The church of San Juan was established in 1522-24. The colorful façade of the large 18th century building is fairly typical of many to be found throughout Mexico. But take a look inside and you enter another world.It is filled with colorful candles, and smoke from burning copal resin incense, commonly used throughout southern Mexico. Along the...

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  • Templo De San Juan

    Is the reason to visit the village. It's placed in the center of the village. You have to pa y the admission (at the turrist office in front of the church). The curch is allreday different from outside. But when you enter you come into whole new world. There are candels everywhere, floor is coverd with pine needels, no benches inside, peole kneel...

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Chamula Transportation

  • Waxbag's Profile Photo

    by Waxbag Written Jan 9, 2005

    It is not difficult to get to Chamula on your own. My advice is to not take a organized tour of the indigenous villages that are offered in the hotels and hostels

    Go to the north side of San Cristobal on Honduras and Lazaro Cardenas streets and take a combi to San Juan Chamula. It would be interesting to see the village on Sunday, but all the tour buses will be there to. I found it nice to go without sharing with all of the tourist.

    San Pedro
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    • Arts and Culture
    • Backpacking

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Chamula Shopping

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Aug 23, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Every Sunday there is a special market day, where you will find a display of Mayan weavings, clothes made of pure sheep wool, blouses, pretty bags, clay pottery and other Tzotzil handicrafts carved in wood, although they are also being sold along the road by ambulant Mayan vendors during the week.
    Women often make traditional clothing, blankets, and souvenirs that include Zapatista-related items, such as pens with a clay figure on top in the figure of Subcomandante Marcos or Comandante Tacho.

    Chamula Market Chamula Market Chamula Market Chamula Market Chamula Market

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Chamula Local Customs

  • Tzotzil Maya people

    Chamula is inhabited by the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people, whose Tzotzil language is one of the Mayan languages. The municipalities with largest Tzotzil population are Chamula (48,500), San Cristóbal de las Casas (30,700), and Zinacantan (24,300) in Chiapas. Houses are built of wattle and daub or lumber, usually with thatched roofs. Traditional...

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  • Chicken sacrifice

    Locals belive that chicken can cure all kinds of desises. The illness is transferred on the animal. The chiceken now becomes an infected object that has to destroyed. So they cut it's head offand the ill person is cured.

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  • Coca-cola

    Why is Coca-cola so important for the locals? Although they try to live in a traditional way and reject most modern goods?It helps the purify their body and soul. Drinking Coca-cola makes them burp and in this way they get rid of bad spirits.Before Coca-cola they had to drink lots of water to get the same efffect.

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Chamula Warnings and Dangers

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Aug 23, 2012

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    Photography in the town is very difficult as parents will hide their children or they themselves will turn away as soon as they spot a camera.
    Photography within the church is strictly prohibited as is photographing the Christmas procession to the church. Inside the church, guards monitor the tourists and if caught, the tourist will go straight to jail. Normally, it does not come to this, provided the roll of film is immediately handed over to the “policeman” – in the case of digital photography, I assume showing that the image is deleted is its equivalent.
    Still, outside of the church, a vendor sells postcards with an image from the inside of the church…

    You can watch my photo of San Juan Chamula on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 16° 47' 13.90" N 92° 41' 26.00" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio San Juan Chamula 2 .

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    • Photography

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Chamula Off The Beaten Path

  • Waxbag's Profile Photo

    by Waxbag Written Dec 5, 2003

    Outside the town of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas are small villages that maintain their own culture and unique customs. Even from village to village the dress and customs are different. I visited San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan which are both indigenous Tzotzil. Indigenous Tzeltal and Choi are also found in these hills. The Zapatista rebels are out further away in the north west but you can buy the black dolls that supports their cause.

    Every Sunday in Chamula people come in droves into Chamula to the markets and to visit the church. In Chamula you must be careful about your camera. They are very superstitious about having their picture taken and you may not take pictures inside the church.

    It is here in the church where you can witness the very unique customs of this village. The floor is covered in pine needles and rows and rows of burning candles. This seems a bit precarious abut the locals sit in front of these candle rows with their families and chant and bless. With chickens, eggs, bones, and other relics sickness is removed by rubbing upon a family member. Rows of soda bottles of Coke, Sprite, and Fanta also accompanies the candles and are used to allow burping to release the evil spirits.

    There are so many candles in this church that everything appears distorted from all of the rising heat. Dolls of important saints with mirror backings adorn the walls of the church. At the front is John the Baptist over Jesus.

    Outside the village is an interesting cemetery and roofless church. In the cemetery are black, blue, and white crosses that represent those who have died young, middle-aged, and old in that order.

    My advice is to not take a organized tour of the indigenous villages. Go to the north side of San Cristobal on Honduras and Lazaro Cardenas streets and take a combi to San Juan Chamula. It would be interesting to see the village on Sunday, but all the tour buses will be there to. I found it nice to go without sharing with all of the tourist.

    Chamula Cemetery
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Backpacking

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Chamula Favorites

  • When to come

    I'd recomend to visit San Juan Chamulo on sunday. Sundays there is a weekly market. So you don't have to come here just because of the church, but also to see what local people need for their living and buy something yourself (maybe spices). And to see & feel the way of life.

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  • Horseback riding to San Juan Chamula

    I took a tour by horse to San Juan de Chamula. it was a lovely ride with other backpackers and the local guide.

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Explore Deeper into Chamula
The Maya Cross
Local Customs
The Church
Things to Do
Map of Chamula

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