San Cristobal has a rich history.
San Cristobal is both a municipality and a city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The city is formally known as San Cristobal de la Casas and is located in the central highlands of the state. It is over a mile above sea level and has existed as a permanent settlement in Mexico
since the 16th century, around the time that many of the first permanent cities were settled in the same region. It has enjoyed a long and varied history, with many historical figures and happenings.
The area that is today known as San Cristobal has been inhabited for much of human civilization. It was first inhabited by natives in ancient times and through the early civilizations of the west. The area is known to have been home of many Mayan groups of people, particularly the present day ancestors of the Tzeltal and Tzotzil peoples. The area was first settled by Europeans in the early 16th century, as waves of French, English, Spanish and Dutch traveled the continent.
San Cristobal de las Casas was settled in 1528 by the Spanish conqueror Diego de Mazariegos. Along with an army and General Andres de la Tovilla, the area was settled as a military base and a trading post. It was originally known as Villareal de Chiapa de los Espanoles. Soon after, the area would become the capital and central city of the state of Chiapas and was renamed San Cristobal in 1535 after St. Christopher.
The city underwent a boom in growth and an expansion through the 16th century. It was officially made a city by the Spanish government in 1536 and had its first mayor elected in 1577 --- Juan de Meza. After another name change in 1829 --- to Cuidad de San Cristobal --- the city was given its current name in 1848 when it officially became San Cristobal de las Casas.
Naming of the City
The city was named after the 16th century Dominican priest from Spain, Bartolome de las Casas, who was the first official bishop of the state of Chiapas. Despite the frequent name changes, and the continuity of a name that has lasted nearly two centuries, the city is still commonly known as Jovel, a name that was often used in the city's early colonial period.
San Cristobal was one of four cities occupied in 1994 by the militant and armed revolutionary group known as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The city maintains deep roots with the Zapatista group, with whom many citizens of the area sympathize.
Matthew Fortuna is a full-time freelance writer with a journalism degree from Wayne State University, living in the Detroit metropolitan area. He has written about a wide range of topics across varying publications, including Demand Studios, wiseGEEK.com and Suite101.com, among others. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University.
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