The History

The official name of the state is Chiapas. This name came from the ancient city of Chiapan, which in Náhuatl means “the place where the sage grows.” It is located in the south of Mexico, and it is considered as a magic town. After the Spanish arrived during 1522, they established two cities called Chiapas de los Indios and Chiapas de los Españoles, with the name of Provincia de Chiapas for the area around the cities. The first coat of arms of the region dates from 1535 as that of the Ciudad Real (San Cristóbal de las Casas). Art in Chiapas is based on the use of color and has strong indigenous influence. This dates back to cave paintings such as those found in a place called “Sima de las Cotorras” which is located near to Tuxtla Gutiérrez and the caverns of Rancho Nuevo where human remains and offerings were also found.

San Cristóbal de las Casas, also known by its native Tsotsil name, “Jovel”, it is a town and municipality located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was the capital of the state until 1892, and is still considered the cultural capital of Chiapas.

The Town

The school is just minutes away from the historical center where you will encounter a remarkable cultural experience. There are impressive art galleries that display local and contemporary art along with museums that exhibit the rich history of San Cristobal as well as textiles, amber, jade, and even insects. There are several artisan markets offering beautiful handcrafted pieces including jewelry, clothing, toys, souvenirs, gifts, and more. You can spend hours on the walking streets captivated by architecture, browsing through the many stores, and mingling with people from all over the world.

You will discover an incredible dining experience with a vast selection of restaurants boasting flavors and dishes from around the world. Numerous cafes are found throughout the streets presenting an array of delicious coffee, tea, chocolate, pastries, breads, and other treats. After dark, the nightlife in San Cristobal does not disappoint with a variety of bars, clubs, live music, and dancing.

San Cristóbal de las Casas, especially the historic center, has maintained its Spanish colonial layout, with narrow cobblestone streets, roofs covered in red clay tile and wrought iron balconies with flowers. The facades of the buildings vary from Baroque to Neo classical and Moorish, painted in various colors.

The Art

Life in Latin America has always been lived outside. The barrio is a meeting place where everybody is welcome, ideas are shared, and the streets become a confluence of community. The streets in San Cristobal are no different and they are buzzing with life, with energy, and with spirit. 

This public space has led to an new wave of art bursting forth from the galleries and the homes and into the streets. Art is truly imitating life here, and it surrounds you every step of the way. A walk to school or out to eat can feel like a walk through an art gallery.

The town of San Cristobal is truly a place where the old meets the new. A town filled with the old way of life, but also rising to the top are new ideas, new ways of thinking, and a new generation. But through it all, whether it’s colonial majesty or funky street graffiti;

art and life have a way of mixing in San Cristobal.

You can even see it in the sinks.

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