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




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