The remains of the mid-16th century church Temple of Santiago have eerily peeked from the Grijalva River, which feeds the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir, due to this year’s drought. The Temple of Santiago, also known as Temple of Quechula, emerged from the surface near the town of Nueva Quechula in Chiapas state, Mexico for the first time in more than a decade.
Lack of rain this year has plagued the river’s watershed and caused a serious decrease in the reservoir’s water level. So far, the reservoir’s water level has dropped 75 feet, uncovering much of the historic structure, according to Discovery News.
At its highest point, the church stands at 48 feet. Huffington Post reports that it usually sits under close to 100 feet of water.
Since the water is dipping by so much, local fisherman are transporting visitors to the remains for a better view, NPR reports.
This is the second time a drop in the reservoir’s water level has unveiled the temple since Mexican authorities damned Grijalva River and completely submerged what remained of Quechula and the church in 1966. In 2002, the water level was so low that visitors could step inside the temple, according to Baltimore Sun.
The church was originally built by Dominican monks headed by Friar Bartolome de la Casa, who arrived when the region was inhabited by Zoque people in the 16th century, in Quechula. Church officials were hoping the small town would eventually host a large amount of people; however, it was abandoned in the 1770s when a tragic plague hit the area.
Mexican architect Carlos Navarette told Associated Press that “It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that.”
He added that the church depended on the close by monastery of Tecpatan, which was founded in 1564, according to AP. “It probably never even had a dedicated priest, only receiving visits from those from Tecpatan,” Navarette said.