Lake Chapala Home Page  
Real Estate
Good To Know


Welcome to Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

In 1521-22, Franciscan evangelists, sent from Spain by Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to Christianize the natives, baptized Chief Chapalac, and named him "Martin of Chapala," master of the people, owner of the land. In exchange, the Taltica Indian chief destroyed his god, Iztlacateotl.

In 1538, Franciscan Fray Miguel Bolonia founded the city of Chapala. He built a hermitage on Chapala's highest hill, Cerro San Miguel, where he lived until his death. He built another hermitage on the island of Mezcala, where native children were given religious instruction.

In 1548, a church was built of adobe and grass, and named San Francisco after the order of the padres. A hospital was constructed, adjoining the church.

By 1550, Chapala had a population of 825 married persons and 349 children. About this time, a scholar from Spain, studying Indian cultures of the Chapala shores, found that each lakeside community seemed to have its own language. Probably, the lack of transportation (the rough dugout fishing canoes were not capable of crossing the lake) had prevented a common language from developing.

On September 10, 1864, Chapala became a municipality by decree of the Jalisco State Congress.


Chapala is located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, 26 km. (16 mi.) east of the Lake's western end, and 42 km. (25 mi.) south of Guadalajara. It is the oldest, most populated, and the most easterly of a string of villages - Chapala, San Antonio Tlayacapan, Ajijic, San Juan Cosala and Jocopetec - known locally as Lakeside.

Its altitude is 1530 meters (5020 feet). Its average temperature is 19.9 degrees C (68 degrees F).


Chapala's population has increased rapidly in the last few years. Today it has about 40,000 inhabitants, of which some 500 are Canadians and Americans. Many of the expats live in Vista del Lago, a suburb five minutes away, with one of the area's largest golf courses.

Chapala has two old hotels with colorful history. The Nido Hotel, founded in the early 1910s, once housed vacationing elite from all parts of Jalisco. The Villa Monte Carlo, built on a small bluff overlooking the Lake, was once a summertime retreat for former president Porfirio Diaz.

Chapala has several banks, several travel bureaus, an investment company, and the oldest real estate firm in the entire area. Downtown is where almost all economic transactions are made, with people coming from all the villages to do business.

It is also the main seat of government for several Lakeside villages. Inside the township's colonial building are housed almost all of the agencies and departments that administer the legal, civic and ecological life of the area.

Chapala boasts several medical clinics, some featuring the latest and most modern diagnostic equipment. The Red Cross clinic and ambulance service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for medical emergencies. Moreover, Lakeside has a few outstanding retirement homes, with round-the-clock medical assistance available.

For sports enthusiasts, Chapala has a yacht club, several good tennis courts, a few beautifully maintained soccer fields and a bullring, as well as fully-equipped health clubs. In recent years, the citizens of Mexico have become much more health conscious, and the town of Chapala reflects this new trend.

Near the lakeshore sits a quaint quay that sports several of the best seafood restaurants in all of Mexico.

The new and the old are harmoniously integrated in Chapala, and it is not unusual to find a modern facility nestled in between two stately residences whose histories go back several hundred years. The past is well preserved, and hints of village history can be found around nearly every corner.

One example is the former home of the novelist, D.H. Lawrence, who resided here in the early 20s, during the time he was writing one of his most celebrated novels, The Plumed Serpent. Today, the house is one of the best bed and breakfast establishments in Mexico.

Another impressive residence (the three-story red house seen at the top of this article) is the former home of the Braniff family. Built around the turn of the century by the scion of the family who later would establish one of the largest airlines in the United States, it is today a fashionable restaurant.

Online Hotel Reservations & Bookings - Rates & Information



bullet Lake Chapala Home Page
bullet Real Estate For Sale
bullet Lodgings
bullet Good To Know Info
bullet Mexico From A to Z


BajaQuest Home Page | Mexico Destinations | Real Estate For Sale | Lodgings | Contact Us
© 1998-2014   BajaQuest™