Created on Friday, 23 October 2015 00:00
Written by Andrew Loh
What happens when a drought occurs? Well, if you are referring to the state of Chiapas in Mexico, a church might emerge when the waters subside.
In fact, that is exactly what has happened in the city in southern Mexico.
Hit by a drought, the water level in the Nezahualcóyotl reservoir in Chiapas has receded and has revealed a stunning sight in the form of a 400-year old church.
How old is that exactly?
Well, the Temple of Santiago was built at a time when Mexico was colonised by its Spanish masters and Spanish monks, led by Friar Bartolome de las Casas, who built the church – this was in the 16th century.
“Bartolome de las Casas was the first Bishop of Chiapas and initially supported the colonisation and subjugation of the native Indians of the region,” the Independent newspaper reported.
“In later years, however, he advocated strongly for the abolition of slavery, both in situ and back in the Spanish court of King Charles V.”
The church was built was built in 1564 because of a surge in population but was abandoned due to the big plagues of 1773 to 1776.
“It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that,” said architect Carlos Navarretes, according to The Guardian. “It probably never even had a dedicated priest, only receiving visits from those from Tecpatán.”
But it was only in 1966 that the church was submerged when the nearby dam was completed and water flooded the area.
As the water level recently dropped by at least 80 feet in the Grijalba river which feeds the reservoir, the ancient church – with its 10 metre high walls, 61 metre length and 14 metre wide hall - was unveiled by the receding water.
This is only the second time that such a thing has happened. The last time people got to see the Temple of Santiago was in 2002, when a similar drought allowed people to even walk into the church.
“The people celebrated. They came to eat, to hang out, to do business. I sold them fried fish. They did processions around the church,” fisherman Leonel Mendoza said.
With social and new media the rage nowadays, news of the rather ghostly, haunting revelation is making the rounds online, including photos of those who have visited the church. It has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with fishermen ferrying curious visitors to the site, until the waters once again cover the apparition and safekeep it for the next unveiling.
Photos taken from the Associated Press, and Instagram pictures from Exploring Chiapas.