This three-block-long complex houses a church, a former monastery, a regional history museum with a great deal to see, and the Templo de la Caridad (Temple of the Sisters of Charity). A two-headed eagle—emblem of the Hapsburg dynasty that once ruled Spain and its American dominions—broods over the pediment of the church, which was built between 1547 and 1569. The pink stone facade (which needs a good cleaning) is carved in an intensely ornamental style known as Baroque Solomonic: saints' figures, angels, and grooved columns overlaid with vegetation motifs abound. The interior has lavish altarpieces, an exquisitely fashioned pulpit, a sculpture of the Holy Trinity, and wall panels of gilded, carved cedar—one of the precious woods of Chiapas that centuries later lured Tabasco's woodsmen to the highlands surrounding San Cristóbal. At the complex's southeast corner you'll find the tiny, humble Templo de la Caridad, built in 1715 to honor the Immaculate Conception. Its highlight is
the finely carved altarpiece. Indigenous groups from San Juan Chamula often light candles and make offerings here. (Do not take photos of the Chamulas.)
The Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo, adjacent to the Santo Domingo church, now houses Sna Jolobil, an indigenous cooperative that sells local weavings of a high quality that you won't find elsewhere. These wall hangings and other articles are truly of museum quality, and are priced accordingly. The shop is open Monday–Saturday 9–2 and 4–6.
The small Centro Cultural de los Altos, also part of the complex, has a permanent exhibition of historical items and documents related to San Cristóbal and the surrounding villages. With the price of admission you can wander around the courtyards of the old monastery. It's open daily 9–6; closed Monday. Admission is $4.10, or free on Sunday. 967/678–1609.
Av. 20 de Noviembre s/n, near Calle Guatemala, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, 29200, Mexico