It may be a surprise to many to know that Mexico has a number of literal “magic” towns around the country. The magic towns or pueblos magicos is a designation given by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism to certain towns that meet the requirements.
A Magic Town is a small city that has symbolic attributes, legends, history, transcendent facts, daily life, etc. Basically, a town that represents old Mexico in all of its forms.
The Pueblos Mágicos Program contributes to revalue a group of towns in the country that have always been in the collective imagination of the nation as a whole and that represent fresh and different alternatives for travelers.
If there is a town in Mexico that represents the ideal of what a magic town, it’s San Cristóbal de las Casas. San Cristóbal de Las Casas is located in the heart of the state of Chiapas, in the deep south of Mexico, and it is one of the most beautiful towns you’ll ever visit.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas was founded in 1528, by a tiny group of 100 Spaniards, who over time gave entry to Tlaxcaltecas and Mexicas. It became an important colonial city distributed in 10 neighborhoods, which still display influences of Baroque, Moorish and indigenous architecture.
San Cristobal de Las Casas, in Chiapas, has become one of the favorite destinations for visitors from different parts of the world, who walk between buildings of the XVI-XVIII centuries, on streets which are still cobblestoned.
In its peaceful streets, flanked by houses with large red tile roofs and flowery courtyards, treasures are discovered, both gastronomic and architectural. The beauty of San Cristóbal de las Casas lies in the balance between its ethnic diversity and its colonial tradition, creating an interesting cultural atmosphere very attractive to the foreign visitor.
One of the many things that will stand out for you when you visit San Cristobal de las Casas is its churches. The church of Santo Domingo is a masterpiece of Central American and Mexican Baroque, both for its mortar facade and for the set of altarpieces and gilded pulpits inside.
San Cristobal’s churches, temples and its historic buildings are part of the reasons to visit in San Cristóbal de las Casas. The city is surrounded by the richness of the flora and fauna and all the natural beauty of the state of Chiapas , so visiting this destination, the state’s cultural capital, will undoubtedly leave you with magical experiences.
San Cristobal has two pedestrian walkways located in the streets of 20 de Noviembre and Real de Guadalupe. The two walkways cross the historic center and while you stroll you can observe the colonial architecture and find a great variety of little hotels, craft shops, textiles, restaurants, and ideal places to enjoy the magical sunsets of the town while you have a delicious cup of Chiapas famous coffee.
The visit to the barrios is a fascinating experience for seeing traditional architecture, parties, crafts and gastronomy. Many doors have red paper lamps that indicate the sale of exquisite tamales.
The barrios are historic centers and and indigenous background from the Mayans, who still live in the neighboring towns around San Cristóbal. These peoples wear their typical clothes and come to the “city” to market their beautiful handmade products.
One of the most amazing and unique attractions in San Cristobal de las Casas is Casa Na Bolom. Casa Na houses a large collection of ancient artifacts and a large library specializing in the Mayan and Lacandon culture.
This museum, formerly a house, was the home of Franz Blom and his wife Gertrudis, who were in love with San Cristóbal de las Casas, built their collection over more than 50 years.
For the active tourist who loves hiking and natural landscapes, we recommend El Cañon del Sumidero. The canyon is very narrow, very deep and surrounded by vertical rock walls with surprising tones. It is the best way to see the green of Chiapas in its purest form. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot an alligator or two in the river.
These are just a few of the incredible things to do in San Cristobal. San Cristóbal de las Casas is very close to other beautiful towns that you can reach in minutes, such is the case of the Zinacatan and San Juan Chamula towns.
Plan a trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, you won’t be disappointed. There is a reason why this literal magical town has captured the hearts of many visitors who choose to stay and live after only a visit.
My personal recommendation is to fly through Mexico City to Tuxtla airport in Chiapas. From there, it’s a one hour bus ride to San Cristobal de las Casas. Spend a day or two in Mexico City and then contrast that with San Cristóbal de las Casas. It’s an incredible juxt de position and a meeting of the new and massive with the historic and peaceful.