Church of St. Juan Bautista

Church of St. Juan Bautista

Church of St. Juan Bautista
4

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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles363 reviews
Excellent
209
Very good
83
Average
42
Poor
8
Terrible
21

RAQUEL
California7 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022 • Couples
Don’t believe the hype! A creepy dark church with people sitting around candles sacrificing chickens, weeping and drinking pox and coke. Tons of spectators make you feel like it’s a show. I had read this place was magical and was really excited but it’s actually really creepy and will leave you feeling gross. Thankfully we took a collectivo there and back so we only wasted 4usd but other travelers we met had been conned into a tour and felt really ripped off. With so many cool things to do and see this is not worth anyones time or energy.
Written July 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nancy e
Round Rock, TX173 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022 • Couples
I had read about Chamula so we took a taxi there. We did pay to go in and paid a Chamula guide at entrance to church which was totally worth the 150 pesos . He gave us very good explanations of the rituals and answered all our questions. It is understandable not to allow photos as this is sacred to Chamula people. It was an experience i am glad i had. The town is not much to look at so after quickly seeing cemetery we took colectivo in plaza back to San Cris, however i would recommended taking a taxi there and having him wait for you and take you back.
Written November 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

irina j
London, UK3,387 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022 • Family
This was an exceptional visit. When we got into the church , I haven’t seen anything like it before . It has a very powerful atmosphere which comes from a mixture of burning candles, people praying in the floor, lots of pine needles coving marble, flowers, saints and of cause local community. It’s impossible to describe and you should experience it. Photos are strictly forbidden inside
Written April 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

M.C.Leach
Manchester, UK5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022 • Couples
We travelled by horse to chamula to see this special place. The journey was difficult because the tour company didn’t really measure us properly for the horses and the saddle was uncomfortable. However, this unusual church is definitely worth the journey. 50 pesos paid to the church for entry. Here you find a melding of indigenous practices with traditional catholic. The floor is pine needles and the building is filled to bursting with candles. This is a special place for locals so it’s important to be respectful, it’s not just a tourist site. It’s an active place of prayer. Would 100% recommend it.
Written August 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tom Schultz
Santiago de Puriscal, Costa Rica259 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
This is one of the more interesting church visits you will ever have - the Chamula people are fascinating, and the wild blending of Mayan and Christian beliefs are a marvelous event to witness.. you will have to experience yourself since no photo or video is allowed in the church. We were lucky, the church had just been finished its renovations following the damage from the earthquake back in 2017 .
Written August 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Zandyy
London, UK162 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2021
This was one of the highlights of our entire trip. The church is the living beating heart of a community that has very distinct and unusual practices which they are luckily happy to share with others. It's impossible not to get caught up in the spirituality of the place and the people's strong sense of belief. We didn't want to leave.

Unlike most others, we visited independently and without a guide. If you are in a similar situation, don't be concerned to just drop by - there was plenty of parking space when we were there. Just read ahead because there are no explanations and quite a few things that are out of the ordinary so the place will make much better sense if you know what to expect and what things mean.
Written January 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Emanuele Marostica
Glasgow, UK17 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2019 • Solo
I want to write this review in English so hopefully it'll get a larger audience, and I'm giving 5 star simply because in this way I hope more people will read it, but I would probably rate this place 3 star.
I'll start from the beginning: I had read a lot about San Juan Chamula in various blogs and on the Internet, so I was really curious about this community where religious syncretism is still practiced and where ancient Mayan traditions still cohabit with the Christianity that the Spanish brought to Mexico when they went there. That's why, on my journey from Oaxaca to San Cristobal, I decided to stop by.
Well, the place itself is beautiful, and the church definitely deserves a visit. The first sensation is indeed strong: you see this church all covered with pine needles, candles on the floor and local people performing those strange rituals that involve killing chickens and spilling coke. All of that in a church surrounded by statues of Christian saints. It is really something worth to be seen for whoever whishes to have an understanding of the various cultures of Mexico.
But then, here comes the consequences of mass tourism.
I had already seen lines of big touristic coaches when I arrived, and the place that 'hardly nobody knew' (from the blogs) seems to have already been turned into a mass phenomenon. But the problem is not this actually: I am a tour guide myself, and I know that touristic sites, when correctly administrated, can really leave a very good memory in the hearts of the tourists and at the same time being a local experience. Well, that's not the case of San Juan Chamula, sadly, where everything has already been turned into a money machine in exchange of a poor service.
I'll explain myself better: of course when I went there I wanted to know more about the place, since you cannot take any pictures inside the church and since you cannot even buy (for now, at least) any explanatory book that gives you information about the community and the habits of the people there. But no problem, of course, because outside of the church there are already plenty of 'guides' who for 100 pesos (roughly 5 euros, 4 dollars... kind of a high price for a little guided tour, even for Mexican standards) will explain you everything that you need to know. Well, I really hope it depends on which guide you get, because mine simply repeated by heart a little story he had repeated I don't know how many times (which lasted not even 5 minutes), answered my questions without not even too much interest (when I really had a genuine interest in knowing the habits there), and couldn't wait to go out once again to attract other possible suckers.
When I asked then if there were any other activities to do, he said that I could have a 'limpieza espitirual', a spiritual cleanness, by a typical local priest. So I was like: "ok, sounds cool, let's do it. It's such an interesting place here, why not seeing one of those ancient rites firsthand?" But of course, another scam. The lady performing my spiritual cleanness was someone living just next door, who performed the rite with not even too much interest and in the end she even asked me 300 pesos (15 euros, 13 dollars) despite the 200 we initially agreed with the guide, and didn't let me leave until I gave what she wanted. I also want to mention that I speak fluent Spanish, so I know how to bargain with the locals, and the communication had always been clear before the service. After that, though, the lady seemed to have forgotten Spanish and could only speak a Mayan dialect (which is what people still speak there). In addition to all that, I need to say that I'm Italian, and I live in a country where still superstition is kinda widespread. And after having seen the rite, I realized that my grandma could have done the same just by reciting some prayers: the usual things against the evil eye typical in countries like Italy, Greece etc, and very frequent also in many Latin American countries... and my grandma never asked me or anybody else an euro. And then can you just explain me why we cannot take pictures in the church (because otherwise we lack respect to God), but then it is perfectly fine to charge 100 pesos per explanation and 300 pesos for a said spiritual cleanness? All that in the glory of 'Diosito' (little dear God, how the lady defined Him). Don't we lack God respect in this way? In my humble opinion it seems just another way to spill money off tourists, especially now that more and more are visiting the place. And let's remember that Mexicans normally earn 100 pesos a day, with the salary they have, so you can imagine the scale of speculation that they do there.
Ah, I want to specify that my spiritual cleanness didn't involve any chicken killing of course. That - because of course there was that option, too, the guide felt the need to underline - would have cost far more, at least 800-900 pesos (40 euros, 35 dollars).
Apart from all that, all around the church it was full of very pushy street vendors who tried to sell me the world, and I must also confess that when walking the streets I always felt observed. At some point some random guys started to follow me, and that's why I just decided to go back to my car and see the cementery, the other 'attraction' of the place.
I must confess that this is probably the only place in Mexico where I felt unsafe. And I had been also in other places, like Mexico City, where everybody told me to be careful because they rob you, assault you etc, and where instead nothing happned.
Anyway, when I went to see the cementery, which is beautiful in its own way, I was of course approached by other very insistent street sellers, which at some point simply pushed me to continue on my journey to San Cristobal.
When I finally went to San Cristobal and spoke with the locals there, I happened to meet a guy from Chamula, who told me how the situation really is there, and that the apparence of quiteness and tranquillity that the mass tourism wants to show is nothing but a facade. As it has been written in other reviews as well, indeed, people are very aggressive there, Mexican law is inexistent, it IS dangerous, especially at night (so avoid spending the night there) and they even burn people alive. Yes, you heard me. In the 21st century.
So at the end of it all... what's my suggestion? Well, I still think that it's a place worth to be seen at least once in your life, so I would still go there. Personally, though, I would read something in advance so as to know what are the traditions and the rites performed in the church, and I wouldn't waste my money for any explanation or spiritual cleanness or any other scam they might propose you. I would just pay the 25 pesos of the entrance and live my own experience with God (if you are religious), or just appreciate the religious syncretism that definitely permeates the environment. I would then go have a quick look at the graveyard and then leave, without buying anything there, since you can easily buy the same things in San Cristobal, in a far safer environment. And in any case I would keep my eyes open, and wouldn't be fooled by the atmosphere of apparent tranquillity and safety that people there make you want to believe there is.
Ah, last by not least: you have to pay 5 pesos for the toilets and they are absolutely dirty. Why do I have to pay for the toilet if it's not even clean?
I hope this review of mine may help future travellers to visit a town that, despite all, really deserves to be seen and represents an invaluable piece of Mexican history.
Written April 1, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Desiree B
Melbourne, Australia41 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019 • Friends
One of the most awesome places I have ever visited. The reverence and basic natural beauty of the atmosphere in this church left me and my fellow travelers awestruck. The smell of candles burning pine needles on the floor and floral tributes on the walls lent to the ethereal atmosphere as the tribal people prayed and made offerings to their saints and gods with a reverence I have never within any other church. They brought candle(colour for children white for adults ) on behalf of their village neighbourhood couldn’t make the pilgrimage to the church and prayed with arduous devotion even making offerings of live hens ( they have no money and a hen is the great sacrifice they have to offer) we saw a procession of a tribal elder in sheepskin dress and a whole community playing instruments and singing as they entered. It was an experience I will never forget. No photos permitted inside but memories will never be erased
Written February 16, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Funambulator
The Rocks, Australia1,939 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2018 • Friends
Before going inside San Juan Bautista, we admired the fresh white facade, green & blue & golden-orange trim. Our guide reiterated his earlier message about the required etiquette, no photographs of the interior (the indigenous population of Chamula, 95% Tzotzil Maya people, are devoutly conservative & apparently don’t even like being photographed themselves!) Inside, I could see we were in a very unusual Christian church...no pews, local parishioners sat on the floor intoning mantras over lighted candles which were all over the church floorspace - 1,000s of them. The rituals being performed didn’t much look recognisably Catholic, some of the worshippers were accompanied by shady looking shamans & curanderos (indigenous medicine men). Strewn on the ground was a carpet of leaves & branches of the pine needle tree. My instant impression: what a total fire trap this place was! The icons were an odd mixture of Mayan customs & orthodox Spanish Catholicism. The eponymous San Juan (St John the Baptist) took pride of place in the church. Another curious feature was a series of long draped flammable sheets affixed to the walls & roof in an inverted V shape. As I escaped back out into the fresh air I pondered how far away the local fire station was.
Written May 30, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

BlueAnaLaura
El Paso, TX85 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2015 • Solo
First they charge you to enter the church. It specifies no pictures so read your disclaimer. Nothing pretty inside the church and the Chamulas are very aggressive. Save your money and take a private tour to Zincantan which is more friendly town. I will not go back to this town again.
Written October 3, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Church of St. Juan Bautista, San Juan Chamula

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