South West, Mexico
Chiapas is Mexico's southernmost state and one of the poorest of the country. The state offers an enormous geographical variety. From hot, fertile coastal plains, such as Soconusco, to impressive mountain ranges (Sierra Madre), volcanos, valleys and the north east tropical rainforest. Of Chiapa's 3.2 million people, an estimated 700,000 are Indians, descendants of Mayan groups. Considered second class citizens, with the least productive lands in the state, the most important indigenous groups are the Tzotzils, the Chols, the Manes, the Zoques and the Lacandóns.
The state of Chiapas is best known for the country colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, and the spectacular jungle-covered ruins of Palenque. Other remarkable points of interest are Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital, which includes the Mexico's best zoo; the 1000-metre (0.6 mi) deep Sumidero Canyon; the beautiful Montebello Lakes region, in the southwest, and the fine Chiapas Mayan sites of Yaxchilán and Bonampak, both deep in the Lacandón jungle.
Nestled in a rain forest in Chiapas, Palenque is considered the most beautiful among all that pre-Columbian constructions built by Mexican Indians. These Maya ruins have a magical quality, due to its intimate atmosphere. In early morning or late afternoon, the structures are illuminated in a hazy, and exquisite glow. Surrounded by lavish jungle, Palenque's setting is stunning. Palenque was first occupied over 1500 years ago, flourishing from 600 to 800 AD. Its elegant aesthetics show remarkable buildings. The most impressive one is the The Temple of the Inscriptions, a 75 ft (23 m) pyramid, dedicated to the king Pacal, who took Palenque at its maximum splendor. Pacal's magnificent royal tomb was uncovered beneath the Temple. At its most glorious heights, Palenque dominated the greater part of Chiapas and Tabasco. The structures were characterised by fine stucco bas-reliefs, showing very complex hieroglyphics texts. Open daily from 8 amd to 5 pm. Admission: 2 USD.
Sumidero Canyon is an impressive vertical gorge whose walls descend 4,000 ft (1.2 km) for some 15 km (9 mi). Located a few km east of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, with Río Grijalva flowing north through it, the canyon is about 12 million years old. Compared with the Grand Canyon, this spectacular gorge can be visited by fast passenger launches in a 35 km (21.7 mi) trip, for about three hours. Along the trip, visitors can see a variety of bird life, such as herons, cormorants, vultures, ducks, pelicans, together with raccoons, iguanas and possibly a crocodile.
Museo Na Bolom - San Cristóbal de las Casas
Na Bolom (House of the Jaguar), a beautiful 22-room neoclassical building was built as a Christian seminary in 1981. Bought in 1950 by Franz and Gertrude (Trudy) Blom, a Danish archeologist and Swiss antropologist and photographer, respectively, Na Bolom showcases their findings from the Classic Maya site of Moxviquil, Toniná and Chinkultic, and Franz's personal effects. It is also home of Trudy's intensive work on the Lacandón Indian population. The library holds more than 5,000 volumes on Chiapas and the Maya. The Institute dedicates to reforest the surrounding area, planting around 35,000 trees each year. Open Monday to Thursday, from 9 am to 3 pm; Friday from 9 am to 11 am; tours are on Tuesday to Sunday at 11:30 am in Spanish and at 4:30 pm in English. Admission for the tours: 2 USD.
Mexico Regional Landmarks
Send a comment
Copyright, terms and conditions
Image supplied by JB Bauer