A 16th Century Church Re-Emerges From Water In Southern Mexico

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6:45 pm 23 Oct, 2015


A colonial church, which submerged in a dam project 49 years ago, has emerged due to severe drought in Southern Mexico.

It vanished when the hydroelectric dam was built in the Grijalva river in 1996.

The Apostle Santiago church was built by a group of monks headed by Friar Bartolome de la Casas, who arrived in the region in the mid-16th century.

The church in the Quechula locality is 61 metres (183 feet) long and 14 metres (42 feet) wide, with walls rising 10 metres (30 feet). It doesn’t have a roof.


“The people celebrated. They came to eat, to hang out, to do business. I sold them fried fish. They did processions around the church,” Leonel Mendoza, a resident there, who has been ferrying passengers to see the church.


But it is not the first time that the church has reappeared. In 2002, the water was so low visitors could walk inside the church.

According to architect Carlos Navarete, who worked with Mexican authorities on a report about the structure, the church was built thinking it could be a great population centre. It was abandoned halfway through the construction due the big plagues of 1773-1776.

But residents and probable tourists cannot visit the site because the water level has risen again as Chiapas has seen heavy rainfall since Sunday.