San Cristóbal de las Casas was built as the first fortified city in what is now Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors to help fight off the local Maya and mestizo uprisings in the jungle highlands in the southern state of Chiapas.
Because of this, most of the churches are built on hills in the center of the city near the zócalo.
When visiting, you will see rites and rituals that combine Catholic practices with traditional Maya beliefs making for a truly unique religious experience. The Maya influence is not as strong in places such as nearby Chamula or in Maya communities in Guatemala. Nevertheless, it is worth taking the time to visit each of these churches.
Catedral de Santo Domingo
Location: Three blocks north of the zocalo
The largest and one of the most impressive of the churches in San Cristobal, this Cathedral features a pink Baroque façade with icons of Spanish imperialism, for example, the double-headed Hapsberg eagle.
Surrounding the Cathedral is an artisan market where Maya and hippie vendors sell everything from jewelry to leather goods to weavings to amber. Caution buying amber on the street! If it does not feel cool to the touch and have a slightly piney scent when rubbed, it is plastic.
Templo del Carmen
Location: Southern end of the andador, or pedestrian walkway, about three block south of the Zocalo
A beautiful white structure that served as a gateway to the city when it way first built, it has been converted into a cultural center.
The center often features the artwork of local artists and musicians usually in the early evening between 7 and 9.
Iglesia de San Cristobal
Location: Five blocks southwest of the zocalo easily visible perched on top of a small hill
This small church is perched high above the city is in honor of the patron saint of the city. A long flight of stone steps leads to the top rewarding climbers with a beautiful view of the city.