Although the city does not harbor a great history of Mayan civilization presence, nearby Palenque, is a must-see for historical enthusiasts. The history tells that the city is named after Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, first bishop of Chiapas and the most prominent Spanish defender of indigenous people in colonial times. San Cristobal was the state capital of Chiapas from 1824 to 1892, and underwent many name changes – it is sometimes still referred to by its original name – “Jovel.”
The city was relatively isolated until tourism began to influence its economy in the 1970’s. However, on January 1, 1994, San Cristobal came into the spotlight during the uprising of the Zapatistas, a previously unknown guerrilla group, who demanded the improvement of the poor living standards of the indigenous people.
At present the city is tranquil and safe to visit, but political and social tensions remain. Regardless of its economic status, San Cristóbal continues to attract travelers, real estate investment and a growing middle class.