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Sections of Tapachula

Tapachula is one of the most important municipalities in the State of Chiapas; and it is located at the base of the Tacana Volcano. This city has a mix of provincial and modern features with a touch of the European architecture, keeping many vernacular elements in the houses made of reed, adobe or raw cane, with palm or mud tile roofs. Tapachula is 120 meter over sea level and has a population of 271141 inhabitants. The city is located in the Soconusco region and has one of the best economic standards, as it is a main entrance to Central America, located in the narrow Pacific plain. In the prehispanic era, the city was inhabited by people with a culture almost unknown and they established one of the most amazing ceremonial centers in the Izapa region. The weather in the city of Tapachula is hot and humid.

The city has its own personality, created by the beautiful surroundings and exuberant vegetation of its landscape, plus the traditional architecture seen both in the big public buildings and the private houses surrounding the city center. Examples of the splendor of Tapachula are: The Church of San Agustin, the old Municipal Palace that has been transformed into a Culture house, the Parque Hidalgo, topped with the new the Municipal Palace. The good economic status of many families is reflected in the big houses built during the sixty’s showing the splendor of the Art Deco style. A good example of this is the building La Portaviandas and the Verdun house that show the social life lived in this part of the Soconusco.

Due to the proximity to the border with Guatemala, Tapachula has absorbed a considerable part of many ethnic groups of the neighboring country, but in fact the ethnic group characteristic of this region is the Mámes.

In Chiapas the Soconusco region extends for 125 km (78 miles) along the Pacific Coast; these lands have been settled by immigrants of German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arab and North American decent. Without a doubt the tropical vegetation and varied eco-systems of the plains and the mountains of Chiapas Sierra Madre, create a wonderful mosaic of cultural expressions, produced by the immigration of settlers from North-America, Asia and Europe.

Tapachula originated as a small village on the banks of the Coatan River, the "River of the Serpent," settled by a community of people speaking a Mixe-Zoque language. In Colonial times there is no mention of a town until 1794, when it replaced Esquintla as seat for the authorities of the Soconusco region. In the last years of the Colonial era, it was the home of Fray Matías de Córdoba, main architect of Chiapas independence. Upon the demarcation of the border between México and Guatemala in 1882, large-scale cultivation of coffee began and produced an economically brilliant epoch, as had never been seen in any city within Chiapas, during Colonial or Republican times. This is when the influx of immigrants occurred.

Tapachula is located 18 (11 miles) from the border with Guatemala, at the southernmost tip of the state, in the Soconusco socio-economic zone, of which it is the regional seat. Its boundaries are: on the north with Motozintla municipality, on the north-east with Cachoatán, Tuxtla Chico, Frontera Hidalgo and Suchiate, on the south with the Pacific Ocean, and on the west with Tuzantán, Huehuetán and Mazatlan.

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Puerto (Port) Madero: Located 30 minutes from the city of Tapachula, it is the nearest accessible port. Each year during the months of February there is an International Fishing Contest.

Tacana Volcano: To climb this volcano, it is necessary to contract a guide at Papales, half way up the mountain. There you can rent lodging in order to make an early start at 04:00 to the top of the mountain. Warm clothing is recommended, also the appropriate gear, dry or canned food and a first aid kit.

Unión Juárez: Located on the slopes of Tacana volcano 40 km (25 miles) from Tapachula. This colorful coffee-growing town is outstanding for its wooden architecture. It is also a good departure point for excursions through the massive Soconusco highlands, the waterfalls of Muxbal and Monteperla, the rock of Pico de Loro and climbing Tacana volcano at 4093 m (13,643 ft.).

Huehuetán: Besides coffee, there are other activities to support tourism in this area such as mule rides or walking tours, but no doubt the main attraction is rafting the white waters of Cuilco River, whose currents run strong from May to November amid lush vegetation. From the starting point in at San Francisco Huehuetan, the 20 km (12.5 miles) down river includes a drop of about 500 m (1,666 ft.), alternating rapids and waterfalls to make this one of Mexico most exhilarating rides.

La Escollera: Is a quiet place to take a seashore walk, ride on a “banana” (inflated raft) as well as enjoy the local seafood-based cuisine offered by the different restaurants in the area.

Barra Cahoacán: Located at the end of the Playa Linda residential area is a group of palapas (thatched roof huts) and restaurants offering their services during the vacation season. The distance between Tapachula and Barra Cahoacán is of 35 minutes.

Brisas del Hueyate: Located 59 km (36.8 miles) from Tapachula in the municipality of Huixtla. This attractive location inside the ejido Brisas del Hueyate on the southern coast is full of valleys and plains with abundant water. This place is notable for the beauty of the estuary that surrounds it; navigating in these waters offers magnificent views, packed with resident and migratory aquatic birds.

Las Palmas (The Palms): Located in the municipality of Acapetahua, just 18 km (11.25 miles) from the main town. The way to reach this place is by boat, leaving from the Las Garzas (The Herons) dock; it is a 30-minute boat ride to the hamlet of Las Palmas. There are many boat trips that can be taken at this location, making it suitable for eco-tourism or photography expeditions The estuary is full of channels under the foliage of the mangrove trees with their roots exposed above the water.

Barra (sandbar) de San José: Located 27 km (17 miles) from the municipal seat of Mazatlán on an unpaved road. The distance on this road from Tapachula to the Barra de San José is 59 km (37 miles). There are cabins available for tourists who may want to spend a weekend here and go on boat excursions through the estuary to see the shrimp and tilapia nurseries. Or one can jet-ski, take banana rides, fish or just swim. For your enjoyment there's plenty of sea food to be eaten here including fish, shrimp, fresh oysters and more, all prepared in various ways.

Pico de Loro (Parrot's beak): Located on the slopes of the Tacaná volcano, just 2.5 km (1-½ mile) from Santo Domingo and 3.5 km (2.2 miles) before reaching Union Juarez. The access is by a gravel road, for which reason a high clearance vehicle is recommended. To get to the top of the rock there is a short (1/2 mile) walk on a jungle path. From the lookout, one can see Union Juarez and the top of the volcano.

Izapa, of origin Mixe-Zoque, is considered the archaeological zone more important of the coast chiapaneca and was the connection between two of the greatest cultures of Mesoamerica: the Olmeca and the Maya. Founded around the year 1500 B.C., during one thousand years Izapa was the biggest civil and religious center in the plains of the Pacific, its importance derived from the traffic of the obsidian and the cacao. At the present time, the vestiges of this important site appear like knolls of land and platforms of stones. The structures that surround the plazas, originally, sustained temples, in many of which we find blocks of stone and engraved steles, in addition to altars and other stony monuments; between these last ones we find stone spheres on top of columns, and it could be that they were solar representations. In its beginnings, Izapa counted with more than 160 buildings, between pyramids and platforms of up to 20 ms of height, arranged around plazas. In front of the buildings of the different plazas, there are 252 stone monuments, the majority carved and 89 steles engraved with religious scenes. In general, on the foot of these is a stone altar in a form of a frog, disc or square. One of the most important findings of this zone is the stele number 5, well-known like "the stone of the tree of the life", a sculpture in low relief of around two meters of height and several tons of weight, that narrates in hieroglyphics how a supreme being constructs the universe and its relation with the earth, the air, the fire and the water. This constitutes a fundamental piece for some religious beliefs, are even some indicating that for some religions this stele is considered just like the Ten commandments for the Catholics.

The old Municipal Palace: Surely one of Chiapas' most notable examples of architectural heritage from the 20th century inaugurated in 1929 and constructed according to a plan by the engineer Alfonso Marin. The domestic architecture of the city had an influence in it, as the prominent straight lines that relate it somewhat with the Art-Deco style so profusely in vogue in Mexico City during the 1930s.

Parroquia de San Agustin (The church of San Agustin): It keeps its architectural simplicity, with a wooden roof covered with mud tiles. Its most important element is the facade of neoclassic influence and the Ionian pilasters at the side hold blind arches similar to the church of Teopisca.

Park M. Hidalgo: This is one of the preferred places of the tapachultecos. Here, thousands of love stories other many things of the life are told. This is why the park not only offers entertainment and relaxation, but shelters all its visitors that admire the warmth of its people and it is the perfect spot to really feel the pulse of this border city. The park is surrounded by the Municipal Palace, the Portal Perez and the outdoors Theater, where daily concerts of marimba are offered, concerts that give a happy touch to the area.

Municipal Pantheon: This city has one of the best examples of funeral art, since their tombs and chapels express the great economic activity simultaneously and the ethnic plurality, it is here were we can find graves with names in German or Chinese. The best examples date from the last years of XIX century and the beginning of the XX century.

The City of Tapachula does not offer its own crafts that would distinguish it from the other municipalities, this due to the great influence of other foreign cultures that had established in this region. Most of crafts that one can find come from the Far East like China and Japan.

Handmade products:

  • Chipe: Made with the roots of an African palm.

  • Morraletas de pita (Pita's side bag): Bags made with rope.

  • Hammocks: Made out of yarn.

  • Petates and hats (Woven Straw Rugs and Hats): Made out of dry palm fronds.

  • Pumpo (Gourds): Made from the dry fruit of the same name.


  • January 1st, New Year celebration with Mass, parades and fireworks.

  • International Fair, considered as one of the most important fairs for the State of Chiapas with cattle, agriculture, crafts and sporting exhibitions, entertainment and fireworks.

  • Holy Week (March or April), processions, celebration of Masses throughout the state. In some towns, the Burning of Judas ritual takes place - represented by paper-maché figures and cartoons of historical or contemporary personalities.

  • August 20 - 30, Saint Augustine, the city’s patron saint, celebration with Masses and parades.

  • September 16 is National Independence Day, celebrated with the traditional ceremony of "El Grito" (the Shout for Independence)

  • November 1 and 2 are All Saints Day and Day of the Dead. Offerings are placed at the graves of the deceased to welcome and summon their souls, which are believed to return during these days. The offerings include traditional meals placed on altars inside the houses along with candles and flowers, or at the graves where families spend the day praying.

  • December 12 is the festival of the Patron Saint of all Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrated with Mass, serenades and pilgrimages.

To speak of the gastronomy chiapaneca like one, would be to generalize too much, due to the diversity of the state’s climates and inhabitants the gastronomy changes from region to region. That is why the kitchen of Tapachula is part of the experiences that this pearl of the Soconusco has to offer.

We can not forget that Tapachula is a city with an economic activity and many attractions for visitors from all parts of the world, by such reason we can find a great diversity of cuisines of international stature, a reflection of the cultural diversity that the city has. As an example the following cuisines can be mentioned: Italian, Chinese, Thai, Cantonese, Japanese and the classic vegetarian.

Not to be missed in Tapachula is the: seafood, fried fish with red or green sauce, stew (with shrimp, fish, crab and mollusk) Lisa fish wrapped in paper, shrimp cooked to order, stuffed Lisa fish, fish roe, fillets, crawfish, lobster and giant shrimp.

Soconusco Archaeological Museum: Located next to the Municipal Palace of Tapachula. It has a collection of pieces from different archaeological zones on the coast of Chiapas, especially from neighboring Izapa, the outstanding stele 25, a cranium laminated with gold and incrustations of turquoise and a time-keeping whistle.

House of the Culture: This building denotes the prosperity reached in the city, as one of the architectural landmarks of 20th century, and it was inaugurated in 1929. Its construction was influenced by several constants that relate to the domestic architecture of the city, as it is the case of the Art-Deco style that was wildly popular throughout Mexico, a style that was born in Europe. The nationalism tapachulteco is reflected on the figures that flank the main facade of the building, such as the grecas Oaxaqueñas, the Aztec warriors, the streamlined serpents and the use of the national and the state’s coat de arms.

Amusement and night life are characteristic in this city. Here, the visitor can find a diversity of bars and discos for different tastes, from trova to the salsa, Reggae or techno music.

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Amatenango del Valle Chiapa de Corzo
Comitan de Dominguez Palenque
San Cristobal de las Casas San Juan Chamula
Selva Lacandona Tapachula
Tenejapa Tonala
Tuxtla Gutierrez Zinacantan
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Tacana Volcano - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Tacana Volcano
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Pico de Loro - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Pico de Loro - Photo by Sectur
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Municipal Palace - Photo by Finca Argovia
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Municipal Palace
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Street- Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Street - Photo by Sectur
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Finca Argovia - Photo by  EMD Lourdes Alonso
  Chiapas, Tapachula, The Argovia coffee plantation
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Izapa Archeological Zone - Photo by Sectur Tapachula
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Izapa Archeological Zone
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Izapa Archeological Zone, Stele - Photo by Sectur Tapachula
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Izapa Archeological Zone, Stele
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Izapa Archeological Zone, Mask - Photo by Sectur Tapachula
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Izapa Archeological Zone, Mask
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Church of San Agustin - Photo by Sectur Tapachula
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Church of San Agustin
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Costa Chiapaneca - Photo by Secretaria de Turismo de Chiapas
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Costa Chiapaneca
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Barra Cahoacan, Playa Linda - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Barra Cahoacan, Playa Linda
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Tacana Volcano - Photo by Sectur Tapachula
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Tacana Volcano
Ç Chiapas, Tapachula, Parque Miguel Hidalgo, Kiosk - Photo by Sectur Tapachula
  Chiapas, Tapachula, Park Miguel Hidalgo, Kiosk
Ç Chiapas, Soconusco, Puerto Chiapas, Arrival of the World - Photo by Cocoso
  Chiapas, Soconusco, Puerto Chiapas, Arrival of the World