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-Cholula: This attractive Town of pre-Hispanic roots that was an important religious centre, similar to Teotihuacan, in its times of splendour, is before the majestic summits of the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl Volcanoes.
But that is not all; Cholula is considered to be the oldest City in Mexico because historic evidence concludes that it has been constantly inhabited for more than 25 centuries.
History also affirms that in 1519 Hernán Cortés was absolutely astonished when he first saw this lavish Tolteca City, with 100000 inhabitants and almost 400 temples. Afraid of an ambush, the conquistador ordered an attack on the place, causing thousands of deaths and originating major damages on the imposing constructions, including the Pyramid of Tepanapa, considered the largest in the world.
The conquistadors ordered the construction of Catholic churches over the rubbles of the pre-Hispanic temples, becoming so numerous that nowadays the people of Cholula say that their Town has a "House of God" for every day of the year.
One of the most outstanding religious buildings is the Convent of San Gabriel, built between 1529 and 1552 over the temple of Quetzalcóatl. Its architecture is of renaissance style and it has three shining churches: San Gabriel, the Royal Chapel, and the Temple of the Third Order, all of them located before the Main Plaza. It belongs to the Franciscan Order.
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    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 extension.
    • 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.
    -Popocatépetl-Iztaccíhuatl National Park: 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: The foundations 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: Its amazing 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.

    -Huejotzingo: 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 French forces.
    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.

    -African Safari: 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.

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