A 450 year old church that was once entirely submerged in water has appeared from the depths of a reservoir in Mexico. Thanks to a severe drought in the Mexican state of Chiapas, the 16th century church has emerged from receding waters.
The church is called the Temple of Quechula. It was built in 1564 by Dominican monks.
At the time, church missionaries were hopeful that the church would eventually become a center point of their thriving town, as the church was constructed near a conquistador highway.
However, the church was eventually abandoned after a series of plagues hit the area between 1773 and 1776. The church most likely never managed to achieve the goal of becoming a fantastic population center. It’s also likely that the church never had a dedicated priest.
The ruins for the Quechula church were submerged in water in 1966 when a dam on the Grijalva River was finished. The dam created the Nezahualcoyotl Reservoir which drowned the ruins.
But with the recent drought the surface of the reservoir was fallen by about 82 feet. This has revealed the upper walls of the church.
This isn’t the first time that the church has been exposed. In 2002, water levels fell low enough that visitors could actually walk inside the church. Local business people took advantage of the exposure of the church.
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."
Mendoza says that he is once again taking passengers out to see the visible remains, and other fishermen are also offering similar tours.
One notable aspect of the Temple of Quechula is its link to Bartolome de Las Casas, who was the leader of the monks who originally built the church. Bartolome de Las Casas originally supported the enslavement of the indigenous people of Mexico, but he later changed his mind and became a supporter of abolition.