Drought causes 450-year-old Mexican church to emerge from reservoir
The Temple of Quechula was built in 1564 but later abandoned and ultimately submerged by a dam. Now drought conditions in Chiapas have seen it rise again
The remains of a mid-16th-century church known as the Temple of Santiago or the Temple of Quechula is visible in the Nezahualcóyotl reservoir in Chiapas state, Mexico. Photograph: David von Blohn/AP
The ruins of a 16th century church have emerged from the waters of a reservoir in Mexico.
The water level in the Nezahualcóyotl reservoir in Chiapas state has dropped by 25m (82ft) because of a drought in the area. The church, known as the Temple of Santiago or the Temple of Quechula, has been under nearly 100ft of water since 1966.
The church, which is believed to have been built by Spanish colonists, is 183ft long and 42ft wide, with a bell tower that rises 48ft above the ground.
The church was abandoned because of the plagues of 1773 to 1776 … Photograph: David von Blohn/AP
It was built in 1564, the Associated Press reported, because of an expected surge in population, but abandoned after plague hit the area between 1773 and 1776.
“It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that,” architect Carlos Navarretes said. “It probably never even had a dedicated priest, only receiving visits from those from Tecpatán.”
… and flooded in 1966 when a dam was completed. Photograph: David von Blohn/AP
The church has reappeared above water once before, in 2002. Because of the low water levels, visitors were even able to walk inside it.
“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.
Now, fishermen are ferrying passengers to the ruins, according to the Independent. Curious visitors have taken to exploring the ruins, and climbing its walls.