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Copainalá: Virgin and Child

The Zoque missions of Colonial Chiapas

Despite the background of political unrest that continues to plague this scenic but poor southern Mexican state, much constructive work has nevertheless continued on the restoration and renovation of the region's colonial monuments. With the cooperation of the state authorities, the Mexican federal agency, La Dirección General de Sitios y Monumentos del Patrimonio Cultural, del Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, has undertaken 26 projects of church restoration and conservation in Chiapas.

Here we update the work going forward (2004) on three of the major Dominican monasteries of the Zoque region of northern Chiapas:

 Chiapa de Corzo







Apart Apart from its famous 16th century brick fountain, the imposing Dominican priory of Santo Domingo, known as the Cathedral, is the most notable colonial monument in Chiapa de Corzo.

Since our last report, much of the rambling riverside convento attached to the basilican church (above) has been rebuilt, incorporating sections of the original brick fabric of both cloisters, including the stairway and arcades.

The renovated buildings now serve as a spacious community arts center and gallery.

see our new page on the Calvario chapel in Chiapa de Corzo


For many years the elegant 16th century Dominican church of Copainalá, located in the Zoque region of northern Chiapas was ruinous and open to the elements.

At last, a new wooden roof covers the nave, ensuring the integrity of the structure and allowing this imposing church to once more function as the focus of the religious life of the community. The classical facade has also been repainted, in what to this observer seem inappropriate colors.

It is hoped that the fine, original statuary in the Guatemala style will be returned to the refurbished church.


Work is under way on the restoration and roofing of the great Dominican priory at Tecpatán, the crown jewel of the Zoque missions.

Text and illustrations©2004 by Richard D. Perry. All rights reserved.

* Check out our updated page on Chapultenango, another early Zoque mission.
* See also our new page on the lost Zoque church of
Map of Zoque area missions
* See our feature on the
Camino Real missions of southern Chiapas

This update is based on communications from recent visitors and published reports from various regional and national agencies, on selected projects under way and completed since publication of our Chiapas guidebook.

Our affordable guidebook, More Maya Missions sympathically describes these missions, as well as the other notable Spanish colonial monuments of this isolated region: city churches, Dominican monasteries and convents, urban mansions and even a 16th century fountain - newly restored and one of the most spectacular colonial structures in the Americas. An indispensable guide for the art traveler, the armchair traveler, and all travelers to Chiapas.