A Drought in Mexico Uncovers a 400-Year-Old Colonial Church in the Middle of a Reservoir

The remains  of a 400-year-old (built in mid-16th century) Colonial church built by Spanish colonizers have been discovered at the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir in southern Mexico as water levels in the Grijalba River, in the state of Chiapas, dropped by almost 82 ft (25 meters) due to a lack of rain.

The building, which is known as the Temple of Santiago, as well as the Temple of Quechula, is roofless, over 60 meters in length, and has walls as high as 10 meters.

The church was originally submerged after a dam was built, which flooded the surrounding area and formed the reservoir. However, during times of extreme drought, the former place of worship has become visible, with fishermen even taking interested passengers on their boats to getting a closer glimpse of the ancient relics.

The church first became briefly visible in 1966, while in 2002, the water level was so low that locals could even walk inside 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,” local fisherman Leonel Mendoza told AP.

The church is connected with the famous colonial-era figure of Friar Bartolome de las Casas, who came to Mexico in the 16th century, along with a group of monks who built the church.

(Photographs credit and copyright: David von Blohn)

AP / David von Blohn
AP / David von Blohn

AP / David von Blohn
AP / David von Blohn

AP / David von Blohn