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Sections of Tonalá

A few kilometers of the present Tonalá in pre-Hispanic times another one existed; still we can see vestiges of the Old Church (Iglesia Vieja) dating from 1500, and were the tribe of Nahoas lived, who named the place Tonalá, which means warm place (Tonalli: heat and La: Abundance.) Next to the river Tiltepec we can find some remnants of the Olmecs. The Mexicas, around 1486, conquered several populations of the zone in their expansionist fights towards the Soconusco and Guatemala, including the city of Tonalá, Tonalá, was the only Chiapanecan city that fought for the independence, with the participation of General Mariano Matamoros.

Located at 173 km (107.5 miles) from Tuxtla Gutierrez, it is a colorful city with many examples of coastal domestic architecture. Located on the Pacific Ocean slopes, it is one of Chiapas oldest coastal towns, home to a pre-Hispanic ceremonial center of great importance. Its population is about 75,000 inhabitants.

Tonalá offers diverse attractions, from visits to nearby small towns, archaeological zones from the Olmec culture, and even wonderful beaches, such as Boca del Cielo, Puerto Arista and Paredon, making it a tourist destination without equal in the State of Chiapas. During the last decades, the coastal slopes have been intensely developed in terms of economic activity - commercial, of livestock and industrial - mainly in the city of Arriaga. There is sport fishing and an extraordinary spectacle of birds at Isla de los Pajaros (Island of the Birds) and at its tourist center Santa Brigida located 32 km (20 miles) from the city of Arriaga.

Tonalá is a colorful city that has constructions of domestic coastal style. Its social life revolves around the main plaza, which is adorned by a stele of Teotihuacan influence.

To enjoy the coast of Chiapas, we recommend visiting the different beaches where you would be able to appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna in the estuary and mangrove forests and to enjoy the different possibilities when it comes to water sports.

Biosphere Reserve zone of La Sepultura: It is located in the municipalities of Arriaga, Cintalapa, Jiquilpillas, Tonalá, Villacorzo and Villaflores. It is a nature reserve where one can appreciate the beauty of the lowland deciduous rainforest. There is hiking, opportunities to contemplate the abundance of flora and fauna, outdoor camping in controlled sites, and thematic tours.

Puerto Arista: Located 22 km (14 miles) from the city of Tonalá on the coastal road Tonalá-Puerto Arista. This port is a resort, having as its main attractions: The long beach of fine-grained gray sand, with high waves, palm trees, simple people and the tips of the mountain range on the distance, makes this place a refuge for escaping the noisy life in the city. The area is excellent for swimming, beach sports, horseback riding; motorcycle rides by the seashore, fishing and boat trips. There are hotels from economy class to three stars, cabins, thatched roof restaurants, water front, port, cafeteria and a disco.

Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth): Located 38 km from Tonalá city on the Tonalá-Puerto Arista coastal road. Here one finds beautiful white sand, sand banks and statuary, calm and rough water alike. This is the ideal place for those looking for the simple pleasure of being in contact with nature, observing the waves, the marine birds and the rustic life of the fishermen, while enjoying the beach with open sea. Recommended activities are: Sport fishing, boat trips, cayuco (small indigenous canoe) trips, swimming, water-skiing, scuba diving, photography, observation of flora and fauna and beach sports. The zone has restaurants, palapas, a wharf, public baths, dressing and waiting rooms, water front and cabins.

Paredón: Located 12 km (7.5 miles) from the city of Tonalá, on the Tonalá - Paredón road. It is one of the most interesting places in the region, because in addition to being a fishermen village, it also has a seafood market specializing in estuary shrimp.

Playa del Sol: Located 13 km from Tonalá on the Tonalá – Puerto Arista road. It is an ideal site to take a ride in a motorbike in a gray sand beach and to be able to enjoy the sunsets. It has restaurants.

The Iglesia Vieja Archeological Site is located above the hills about 4 km. (2.4 miles) north of the town of Tonalá. It has an approximate extension of 80 hectares (172 acres) and was built using the favorable natural topography of the hill on which there are about 80 structures. The settlement is distributed in five architectural groups, each one consisting of large- and medium-sized platforms, temples and pedestal bases with a construction system based in megalithic blocks plazas and their accesses. There are also about 30 sculptural monuments.

NOTE: There is presently no public access due to a disposition from the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History).

The Church of San Francisco de Asis: Located in downtown Tonalá, this building was constructed at beginnings of 1537 by the Franciscan friars, and it has a façade with two bodies, a half point arch and the access is flanked by two embedded pilasters of smooth and molded endings. In the interior of the sacristy there is an image of Santo Domingo, a processional Nazarene, a virgin with the boy in arms and a sculpture representing three sinners that are being consumed by fire while they beg for the merci of the monk above them. The church also features an elegant and sober altarpiece from the XVI century, showing an axial of geometric form made in wood, its moldings are laminated with gold leaves and the back is gilded painting, emphasizing also the narrow and long stone scalier that leads to its bells tower, which is a reproduction of the crown of the Kings of Spain. The atrium is a corridor with an arcade with lights and iron pews in the colonial style.

The characteristic crafts of this region are the glazed ceramics.

Chiapas is tradition, folklore, dance and mainly music of marimba in its innumerable fairs and celebrations that are celebrated in the course of the year in different cities; celebrating normally its patron saint.

  • January 1, New Year's Festivities, celebration of Masses, parades and fireworks.

  • Holy Week (March or April), processions, celebration of masses throughout the state. In some towns, the burning of Judas ritual takes place - represented by paper-maché figures and cartoons of historical or contemporary personalities.

  • September 14, celebration of the federation between Chiapas and Mexico.

  • September 16 is National Independence Day, celebrated with the traditional ceremony of "El Grito" (the Shout for Independence).

  • From September 24 to October 8 are the festivities for San Francisco, with cultural, sporting and agricultural events and special masses.

  • November 1 and 2 are All Saints Day and Day of the Dead. Offerings are placed at the graves of the deceased to welcome and summon their souls, which are believed to return during these days. The offerings include traditional meals placed on altars inside the houses along with candles and flowers, or at the graves where families spend the day praying.

  • December 12 is the festival of the Patron Saint of all Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrated with masses, serenades and pilgrimages.

In terms of gastronomy and Chiapas being so diverse, the easiest way to point out the local cuisine here would be to say everything based on fresh and succulent seafood.

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Amatenango del Valle Chiapa de Corzo
Comitan de Dominguez Palenque
San Cristobal de las Casas San Juan Chamula
Selva Lacandona Tapachula
Tenejapa Tonala
Tuxtla Gutierrez Zinacantan
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Boca del Cielo - Photo by Secretaria de Turismo de Chiapas
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Boca del Cielo
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Church of San Francisco of Asis - Photo by Sectur.jpg
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Church of San Francisco of Asis
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Puerto Arista, Beach Palapa - Photo by SECTUR.jpg
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Puerto Arista, Beach Palapa
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Puerto Arista - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Puerto Arista
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Boca del Cielo, Beach - Photo by Sectur
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Boca del Cielo, Beach
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Puerto Arista, Beach - Photo by SECTUR
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Puerto Arista, Beach
Ç Chiapas, Tonala, Beach - Photo by EMD Ignacio Guevara
  Chiapas, Tonalá, Beach

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