Sixteenth Century Church Re-Emerges From The Water After Drought


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Associated Press

Beautiful photos of the Mexican Temple of Santiago have been circulating online, showing the church reappear from the water like a lost ruin of Atlantis.

The Grijalva river in Chiapas, Mexico has been suffering from a drought over the past year which has caused the water level in Nezahualcoyotl reservoir to decrease by 25 meters (82 feet). The "silver lining" of this drought has been another chance to see this snapshot of history which was thought to be lost to a watery grave.


The church is said to have been built by a group of monks led by Friar Bartolome de la Casas, who arrived in the area with Spanish settlers around the mid-16th century. The church was abandoned between 1773 to 1776 due to massive plagues sweeping the area, according to architect Carlos Navarete, who worked on a report about the structure. Epidemics were common in the Americas from the late 15th century, when explorers, settlers and traders introduced bacteria and viruses to the New World.

When the nearby dam was completed in 1966, the church was flooded and left unseen for almost 40 years. However, an even more severe drought caused the church to pop out of the water in 2002. The water levels were so low that people were even able to walk around the church. Speaking to Associated Press, local fisherman Leonel Mendoza said, "The people celebrated. They came to eat, to hang out, to do business. I sold them fried fish. They did processions around the church."

Over the past few days, fishermen have been giving people trips out on their boats to let them explore the ruins themselves while they are exposed.


  • tag
  • water,

  • history,

  • drought,

  • Mexico,

  • church