It has recently been shown that a population of oscillators having identical environments can exhibit a heterogeneous phase topology termed as chimera state. We extend this phenomenon to the broader perspective of order-disorder transitions in physical systems with discrete states. By an exact analytic treatment we show that chimera states can occur in a system of Ising spins in thermal equilibrium. We also numerically establish the existence of chimera ordering in 3-dimensional models of layered magnetic materials (such as manganites) suggesting possible means of experimentally observing it. Copyright © 2011 EPLA.