San Juan Cosala


In 1523, Spanish Conquistador Captain Alonso de Avalos arrived in Cutzalan. Chief Xitomatl, who now controlled the area from Ajijic to San Luis, surrendered peacefully, and was baptized by Fray Martin de Jesus. He was given the new name of Juan Bautista de Cosala. Saint John then became the patron saint of the village, which was henceforth known as San Juan Cosala.

Ajijic Real Estate Information

Chapala Real Estate Information


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Numerous pre-conquest villages lined the shores of Lake Chapala. They were founded by groups of Nahua Indians who roamed near the clear lake waters, tilling the fertile shores and basking in the warm sunshine. They roved the Lake’s northern shores until they came to Cutzalan (“of the many warm springs”). Here they built their black mud huts near the waters. By day, they wandered naked over the countryside, and at night they sat outside their huts around the fires.

Governed by Chief Xitomatl, the Indians thrived in their new home. They built a temple to their god Tlaltecuhtli, ‘Earth Lord/Lady,’ was a Mesoamerican earth goddess associated with fertility. Envisioned as a terrible toad monster, her dismembered body gave rise to the world in the Aztec creation myth of the 5th and final cosmos. As a source of life, it was thought necessary to constantly appease her with blood sacrifices, especially human hearts. They warred with neighboring tribes. When they were the victors, they sacrificed enemy captives, cut out their hearts and offered them to their god, cooked blood in earthen pots and threw the remains into the Lake. Skeletons found by fishermen in succeeding eras bear out these stories.

It is also said that the Indians made offerings to Machis, the goddess of water, of clay objects spotted with blood from the offerer’s earlobes, in hopes of the gift of immortality. These objects are still today being fished out of the Lake by bathers.

The settlement grew so large that the chief sent out groups to colonize the areas where Jocotepec and Ajijic now stand. When Chief Chapalac and his dissident followers appeared in Cutzalan, Xitomatl sent them along the lakeshore to the east to establish Chapala.


The town was founded by indigenous groups of Cutzatalan or Cotzalan, among the pots, now San Juan Cosalá, who asked their cacique “Xitomatl” or “Tzacuaco”, (man with big eyes jumped), go out to found other villages like Ajijic, Tzapotlán, today San Cristóbal, Xocotepec and Tomatlán

In 1523, Spanish Conquistador Captain Alonso de Avalos arrived in Cutzalan. Chief Xitomatl, who now controlled the area from Ajijic to San Luis, surrendered peacefully, and was baptized by Fray Martin de Jesus. He was given the new name of Juan Bautista de Cosala. Saint John then became the patron saint of the village, which was henceforth known as San Juan Cosala.


flora san juan cosala

Vegetation may seem scarce in this village, although there are palms and other trees surrounding the plaza. But if you head up the mountain to the Raquet Club, this changes, and flowers and vines can be seen cascading over house walls, adorning the streets.
Down near the Lake you’ll find familiar bushy shrubs, trees, and fields planted with corn. Other fields are planted with chayote, a vegetable very popular with farmers in this area.

In private gardens, fruit trees such as mango, avocado, orange, plum, lemon and chile are common. Some villagers grow bananas. There are many huamuchil trees that bear fruit once a year and give the village a pleasant fragrance. Tabachines, chirimolla and palms are also common here.


fauna san juan cosala

As in every corner of the earth, fauna here has been affected by human interference. San Juan Cosala used to have a lot of deer and other animals, but today, to see wildlife, you must hike up the mountain to the cascades, said to be the largest and most beautiful. There you may glimpse many animal species – porcupine, rabbit, squirrel, hundreds of birds of all shapes and colors, butterflies, other insects. The further you go into the mountains, the more you hear the sounds of birdsong, insects, falling water, animal calls – a wonderful interaction with Mother Earth.

In the Lake, some fish are still to be caught. Charales, carp and bagre, the most common, are fished by villagers for food and to sell. 

Farm animals – horses, donkeys, cows, hens, chickens and pigs – are part of everyday lives at work time. Most houses have dogs and cats, and there are some street dogs as well.


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San Juan Cosala is located between Ajijic and Jocotepec. San Juan’s Raquet Club is located toward the mountain, and is known for its fine tennis facilities. There is also a swimming pool, ample picnic space, a restaurant, and restrooms. 

Visitors flock to Lakeside’s most popular spa, Balneario San Juan, with its several thermal pools and its natural geyser. To avoid weekend and holiday crowds, it is best to visit during the week. The place is just off the carretera, well-marked, easy to find, a good spot to relax. Massages can be booked, and there is a restaurant on the premises.

If you are in the mood for a more exclusive and relaxing, not to mention unique construction of the facilities in the style of prehispanic motifs, you can find a pyramid ad various indoors hot springs which have healing properties. It’s an experience well worth it. They provide all the services of a fist class spa. The property, besides offering spectacular views of the lake and mountains, there is a hotel and restaurant for those who want to stay more than one day.


It highlights its extraordinary local and typical gastronomy, as well as international high cuisine, which can satisfy all tastes. Highlights include restaurants that are located in the mountain area where you will enjoy grill, gourmet and Mediterranean style food.

Arriving at San Juan Cosalá by the road to Chapala, the aroma of different ingredients awakens the imagination in an atmosphere of infinite flavors; there is the restaurant area of ​​Piedra Barrenada, where the palate will delight in dishes called sea and land, preparation of seafood and fish of all kinds and flavor, as well as some fine cuts. In addition you can enjoy an excellent view of the majestic lake and the most fabulous flora and fauna of the region, accompanied by an excellent fish snack typical of the area: the charalitos that cannot miss, and softening the environment, music of mariachinorteñobanda and salsa for dancing.

Within the village and after a leisurely stroll along its colorful streets, you’ll find fonditas with its traditional hand-made tortillas, fine-cut restaurants and gourmet cuisine, gourmet cafes, and in the square at night, the famous taquitos be it beef or pork, and sopes, golden tacos and enchiladas.

Something that you should not fail to prove in your visit to this mystic town, is the famous pan tachihual and gorditas, whose origin dates from the Spanish and Indian fusion and which are still cooking.


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San Juan Cosala’s population is about 3,000 today. It is a town that seems to be left behind in time. Everything moves slowly. Village houses are still poorly built. Customs and beliefs are those of hundreds of years ago. Villagers are extremely religious. The culture there is not as open to modern changes as they are still very attached to their traditional ways, but it is a nice and tranquil town to stroll down to the plaza and the malecon. This place is a great spot to watch great thunderstorms for those who feel adventurous, but if the lightning begins to strike near by, it is time to go find shelter!

But this is only one part of the town, which is divided by the carretera. Most villagers live towards the Lake. Most expats and Guadalajara people live in the area from the highway up to the mountains, in the Raquet Club, a fine subdivision of large houses, with expansive views of the Lake. The Raquet Club offers tennis courts, swimming pools, club house, picnic areas, and just generally a nice place to spend a nice day with family and friends.


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San Juan Cosala has a good transportation system, since the Chapala-Jocotepec bus passes every half hour through the village on the carretera. (It takes 20 minutes to bus to Jocotepec, the same to Chapala.) There is also a local San Juan-Jocotepec local bus.

This is a village that has been slow to modernize. Although there is a post office, most village houses still do not have a private phone, and there are only a few public ones. But now days, cell service is more widely used, even in small towns such as San Juan Cosalá. Up on the mountain, where most foreigners live, houses have private phones, but there are still problems connecting to Internet service.

Television and radio are not a problem, unless you live very high on the mountain where reception is poor.


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One of the main festivities is at Easter; the Passion of Christ and the Via Crucis Viviente, which takes place on Good Friday, commemorating the parish of the town and culminating in one of the mountain ridges of the town, is commemorated. In June the main celebration of the town, the patron saint festivities held from the 15th to the 24th of that month in honor of St. John the Baptist. The place is filled with music, rockets and joy. The cultural festival “La fiesta de las Artes” (The Feast of the Arts), where you can find painting exhibitions, historical lectures, book presentations, photographic shows, staging, music and much more.

For September, the love of the country is not long in coming, and the celebration of independence takes place the following weekend after 16 with the traditional civic parade and Mexican night that will make you spend a pleasant time. And at the end of the year, in December we begin with the docenary in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, following the traditional inns and pastors’ walk, where nine families invite the pilgrims and give them an inn. To the town in general they give a “bolo” to him and it goes from family with family until arriving at the church of the town. During Holy Week, preceding Easter, there is a live representation of Christ’s crucifixion. It is quite the production well worth watching. The village’s people, all volunteers, through a big production with costumes and every year a new person has the honor to represent Jesus, which is quite a honor.

On June 24, San Juan Cosalá celebrates its Fiesta Patronal, honoring Saint John the Baptist with fireworks, castillo, games, music, dance, typical Mexican food and drink. The town people gather at the plaza with friends and family and spend the evening having a good time. There is always live music every night and entertainment for all audiences.

December 12 is the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. There are fireworks, music, food and events at the church. The streets are decorated with flowers hanging on strings across the streets. Many altars decorate the streets where the procession usually passes by.

December 17-24 is Posada, a live representation of the Virgin Mary’s search for accommodation in the days before the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas carols, piñatas, games and food are part of this observation. You can see the children dressed as pilgrims holding decorated canes with tinsel, bells and all singing along while walking the streets until they arrive to a house and ask for shelter. There is a song that is sung back and forth between the folks outside asking for shelter and the people inside either denying or offering shelter.

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