The building that serves as the home of Casa Lum is a typical house of the 19th century. It remains its original architectural style: a façade accented by parapets, interior patios, porticoes, arcades, and L-shaped eaves, supported by wooden columns. The bays of each suite are aligned with the porticoes.
Most of the original adobe walls still stand at Casa Lum, generally 60 to 80 cm width, as well as the wooden structures, the gabled roofs with terracotta tiles, and a loft constructed with wooden beams.
San Cristóbal de las Casas, once the official capital of the province, remains the true capital of the Chiapas Highlands.
Situated in the Hueyzacatlán Valley –Náhuatl word for “near a great scrubby grass” – the city is surrounded by mountains and coniferous woods. Its climate is temperate; and the thermometer rarely drops below 11 degrees centigrade or rises above 21. Geographical oddities, pine trees and red oaks dot the landscape.
Founded in 1528 as Villa Real de Chiapa (The Royal Town of Chiapa) by Captain Diego de Mazariegos, the true cultural capital of the state was one of the first established by the Spanish in the New World. It currently hosts a population of 190,000 residents, in a cosmopolitan city grounded in as many inherited cultures as the diverse ethnicities of its populace.
A long history implies a long list of names, once the city was known as Villa Viciosa (Vicious City), or Ciudad Real (Royal City). The city changed its name in 1531 to Villa de San Cristóbal de los Llanos, named for the martyr Saint Christopher, protector of travelers. This is how it remained for a long time, with a few changes along the way, until finally landing at its current name in 1848: San Cristóbal de las Casas, homage to the monk Bartolomé de las Casas, the first bishop of Chiapas and universal protector of the indigenous people.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. In 2003, the Ministry of Tourism in Mexico conferred it the privileged title of “Pueblo Mágico”, or “Magic Town”, in acknowledgement of its rich colonial architecture and the diverse social and cultural traditions. To get the big picture, just step out onto the city’s streets. On Saturdays, adorning certain houses, one can still find lit lanterns wrapped with red cellophane to let people know there are tamales for sale, mostly seasoned in the styles of bola, untado (mole) and saffron.
Visiting San Cristóbal is to eat “bread soup” (sopa de pan), wander grottos and ecological reserves. Visiting San Cristóbal is to live out one part of Mexico.