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CHIAPA DE CORZO The Fountain

Towering over the main plaza at Chiapa de Corzo, in northern Chiapas, this magnificent brick fountain is one of the most spectacular 16th century monuments in Mexico. Completed in 1562, it is a prime example of the hispano-moorish, or mudéjar, style of early colonial architecture in the New World.

The octagonal structure, now painstakingly restored, is formed entirely of orange bricks, many of them custom shaped for decorative effect. Flying buttresses brace the eight arcaded sides of the fountain, which is roofed by a great round dome. From its apex, brick courses radiate downwards in ever widening circles, creating a visually stunning and structurally powerful pattern. Ornamental brickwork in the form of diamond reliefs around the fountain add to the rich surface texture and cast constantly changing shadows in the play of tropical sunlight.

Restoration work was recently completed on the fountain, which last underwent conservation in the 1940s. At that time, eight inscribed tiles were added around the inside of the dome, giving historical information about the monument. *

Other colonial monuments of note in Chiapa de Corzo include the Dominican priory of Santo Domingo and the hilltop church of San Sebastian.

Late January is a good time to visit Chiapa de Corso. The town explodes with color and movement during the feast of St. Sebastian, when exuberant masked dancers fill the streets.


* First Tile: Socton Nandalumi, Teochiapan o' Nandiume, fundada sobre la margen izquierda del Rio (Grijalva) por la Tribu de los Chiapa, procedentes de Nicaragua.
Second Tile: 1524. El Capitan Luís Marín llevó a cabo la primera invasión al Senorio de los Chiapa. Lo acompañaba Bernal Díaz del Castillo, 1528. La segunda invasión la condujo el Capitán Diego de Mazariegos.
Third Tile: Los Chiapa se defendieron con valor temerario, y antes que rendirse prefierieron arrojarse con sus mujeres e hijos desde lo alto del Peñon de Tepetchia, al torrente del Caudaloso Rio.
Fourth Tile: 3 de marzo de 1528. La primera población que fundaron los Conquistadores en Chiapas, la estableció aquí, alredador del corpulenta ceiba, Diego de Mazariegos, llamandola Villa Real; que más tarde se llamó Chiapa de los Indios.
Fifth tile: 1552. Chiapa de los Indios quedó exenta de Encomiendas, por lo que se denominó Chiapa de la Real Corona.
Sixth tile: 1562. Terminó la construcción de esta Fuente, ejemplar único en America, Obra de Fray Rodrigo de León. Su cuerpo principal y su torreón estan inspirados en la forma de la Corona de los Reyes Católicos.
Seventh tile: Por decreto de 29 de dic. de 1888 y en homenaje a D. Angel Albino Corzo, se le denomina Chiapa de Corzo.
Eighth tile: Costeó la reparación total, en 1944, El Gobierno del Sr. Dr. Rafael P. Gamboa, dirigida por el Sr. Ing. José R. Benítez.


  • text & illustration © Richard D. Perry. All rights reserved.
  • Thanks to Tom Jones, who kindly supplied me with his notes on the inscribed tiles.
  • for more on the colonial buildings of Chiapas, consult our guidebook: More Maya Missions
  • Chiapas map
  • other Zoque missions