Travel Experiences

Cholula, Churches and Volcanoes

Watched-over by impressive volcanoes, Cholula offers travelers a unique colonial experience

Cholula and Popocatepetl

Watched-over by the impressive Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes, Cholula offers travelers a unique and distinct travel experience, that also compliments a tour of the nearby colonial cities of Puebla and Cuernavaca.

At its zenith, Cholula was the second largest city in the land after Tenochtitlán. It is thought to have been an important religious and cultural center at the time. The city fell to the Olmecs sometime around 600AD, and again to the Toltecs about three hundred years later. By the time Hernán Cortés arrived—during the early part of the 16th Century—the city was under Aztec influence.

Cholula is well known for its archaeology park, which is host to Mexico’s largest pyramid – Pirámide Tepanapa – which is also the world’s largest pyramid by volume: bigger, in that sense, than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt.

Another feature of Cholula is the number of churches situated here.  According to legend, Hernán Cortés ordered 365 of them to be built after the Cholulans conspired with the Aztecs in a failed attempt to ambush him.  In actual fact, the town has about forty-five churches—a significant number in relation to its size and population.

In addition to the archaeology park and churches, Cholula offers several cultural attractions, including museums and the Franciscan Library, situated in the grounds of the Ex Convento de San Gabriel; beautifully restored and stocking some 24,000 tomes of public works dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Charismatic local markets, handicraft stores, access to fine Talavera pottery and local artwork, as well as guided tours to the ‘must see’ villages of Tonantzintla and Acatepec are some of the other attractions on offer to visitors here.

There is something else which attracts visitors to Cholula: a close-up view of Mexico’s two most famous volcanoes, Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl.  The best views are usually offered in the morning, before the heat of the day creates mist and clouds which obscure the view.  By staying overnight at one of Cholula’s hotels, you may enjoy the experience of watching the sun rise and illuminate peaks of these breathtaking and majestic volcanic mountains.

For a complete introduction to this unique and historically important town, read the Mexperience Guide to Cholula

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