Another attraction in Cholula, which stands at 2146 metres above
sea level and 7 kilometres away from Puebla, is the campus of the
University of the Americas
that mixes splendid
colonial buildings with more contemporary constructions on its 70-hectare
-Popocatépetl-Iztaccíhuatl National Park:
- Pyramid of Tepanapa: It was religious precinct consecrated
to Chiconahui Quiahuitl, the rain god. It is also known as the
Great Pyramid due to its fabulous dimensions. Its base is 400
metres long on each side and it is 65 metres high, being the
biggest pre-Hispanic monument in Mesoamerica.
The natives called it Tlachihualtepetl before the arrival of the Spaniards, a word meaning "Handmade Hill". Investigations indicate that four superposed pyramids, which were raised on different periods between the years 900 and 200 BC, form the great construction.
In 1954 the church of the Virgin of the Remedies was built on its top. It is located on Morelos Avenue.
It is one of the largest
National Parks in the country and, besides, the closest to Mexico
City. The beautiful areas bordering the Popocatépetl (Smokey Mountain)
and Itzaccíhuatl (White Dame) Volcanoes, in the States of Puebla
and Morelos, conform this Park.
It has an extension of 26679 hectares and was created in 1935 to protect the summits of the sierras, where the country's hydrographical basins rise, as well as the wild flora and fauna species.
The geography of Popo-Itza, as it is also known, is characterised by the existence of bleak plateaus and woods of pine trees, while the typical fauna species are the white tailed deer, the mountain guans, the falcons and the crows.
But the jewels of the Park are the Volcanoes Popocatépetl, at 5452 metres and with eruptions every once in a while, and Itzaccíhuatl, at 5280 metres, two of the three tallest mountains in Mexico (the highest one is the famous Orizaba Peak with 5760 metres), a wholesome temptation for climbers.
An ancient Náhuatl legend that tells the sad love story between Popocatépetl, a young warrior, and Itzaccíhuatl, a pretty Aztec princess, derives from the prominent Volcanoes. They turned into two colossal mountains very close to one another as a final proof of their eternal love.
The Park is situated almost 60 kilometres away from Mexico City.
-Church of San Francisco of Acatepec:
of what would become one of the most representative samples of Mexican
baroque were laid on the "Hill of the Reeds", English translation
of the Náhuatl word Acatepec. San Francisco is a colossus of faith
that stands out for its doorway covered with Talavera glazed tiles
and delicate carvings; ornamental excesses are repeated inside the
temple, where golden and plaster elements are predominant along
with a multiplicity of religious images.
The beginning of its construction is unknown but it is thought that it might have been built between the XVII and XVIII centuries. What has been determined with certainty is that its façade was ready in 1760.
The Church of San Francisco of Acatepec, rebuilt in 1941 after a voracious fire, is located in the homonymous Town, at only 13 kilometres of Puebla. In order to visit it you need to take the Federal Highway to Atlixco, in the vicinity of Cholula.
-Church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla:
interior decoration is clear evidence of Mexico's baroque splendour,
an architectonic and artistic tendency that in short estates a "horror
to void", meaning ornamentation had to cover the entire temple without
missing a single free space.
But beyond this artistic tendency, history goes that Santa Maria was built over a pre-Hispanic temple in which Tonantzin, a deity related to the cultivation of corn, was worshiped; the zone was called Tonantzintla, a word that means "Place of Our Mamma", due to importance of this goddess.
The Spaniards decided to raise a temple to the Virgin Mary in the area in the XVI century, most probably with the intention of replacing Tonantzin with the Mother of Jesus in the heart of the natives. In this way the conversion of those men, considered heretics by the western priests, to Catholicism would be easier.
The ornamentation of the Church lasted two centuries approximately and devotees of the former deity took part on it, mixing elements of their own vision of the world with the biblical images, where you can appreciate several black angels, besides feather crests, tropical fruits and corncobs, behind the Spaniards' back.
The Church is located in the Town of Tonantzintla, at only 15 kilometres from Puebla. Travellers must take the Federal Highway to Atlixco.
It is a Town that fills with joy
on February's carnivals, which according to scholars have their
roots on the celebrations to Tláloc, the pre-Hispanic rain god.
The streets get packed with masked people dancing endlessly during
these party days, on which the first Catholic wedding celebrated
on these lands is staged, along with the abduction of the daughter
of a Spanish chief magistrate, and the fight between Mexican and
The Olmecas - Xicalancas, founded the Town. Later the Toltecas -
Chichimecas dominated the zone reaching a great development between
the XIII and XIV centuries. However, a century later the Aztecs
would take control, creating resentment amongst the Huejotzingo
warriors who would totally backup conquistador Hernán Cortés on
the capture of Tenochtitlan, the capital City of their atavistic
enemies. Huejotzingo keeps the Convent of San Miguel
from its colonial past, located at just a few steps from the Main
Plaza. The Franciscan Order built it in the XVI century and its
façade shows Moor and Spanish styles.
Huejotzingo is located 17 kilometres northeast of Cholula and a little over 20 kilometres away from Puebla.
-San Martin Texmelucan:
It is a picturesque Town
of colonial origin that keeps imposing architectonic works such
as the former Franciscan Convent of Santa Maria Magdalena
(XVII century), and the former Hacienda of Chautla
currently known as Chiautla, which resembles a European castle.
The Archbishop of Oaxaca commissioned its construction before an
artificial lake in 1877. It is located at 48 kilometres from Puebla.
It is an unusual zoo with no cages
or bars and with the animals roaming freely as if they were in their
own habitats, and perhaps that is the main attraction of this park,
one of the most important in Mexico.
This zoo with a 300-hectare extension housing 250 animal species, allows a thrilling approach to natural life through special cars that go across green loaded areas to fully appreciate furious tigers or lions, slender ostriches, and parsimonious hippopotamuses, amongst other specimens.
It is located in the zone of Valequesillo, 16 kilometres away from Puebla.