Cholula and the Pyramids

In Cholula, Tourist Life by VirginieLeave a Comment

Just outside of Puebla is the city of Cholula, where we went for our second day in Mexico. For the first time, we were going to see some pyramids! But before we could see any of those, we first headed to the zócalo (the main plaza) for a bit of history.

Apparently, Cholula has been inhabited since 500 B.C., which makes it the oldest living city in North America. It also happens to have the world’s largest pyramid in base area. But that’s not all. There is also a legend claiming that the city has 365 churches, one for every day of the year. Unfortunately, it is only that: a legend.

We started by visiting the San Gabriel monastery, which is right on the plaza. The building looked more like a fortress on the outside than a church, which was very interesting.

San Gabriel Monastery c02 c03 c04

We headed back to the plaza after our quick visit. From there, we were going to walk to the pyramids but that’s when Chris saw the outside gym. He started playing on all the machines and I decided to make a quick video of how to work out on the road!

As you can see, we can have lots of fun for free! I actually tried the one where Chris can’t stop laughing and I couldn’t stop laughing either. It looks like a normal machine, but the movement it does is just so weird. It feels like being on a horse!

But we couldn’t spend all day there; we had other things to visit. It was time to go see that pyramid. While we were in the car on the way to Cholula, Santiago pointed at the pyramid, which only looks like a hill nowadays. It has been covered by vegetation and you can only realize it’s a pyramid if someone tells you or if you visit it.

We started our exploration by going to the museum.  It was a good thing they had a model of the layout, otherwise I wouldn’t have understood anything later.


The fun fact about this pyramid is that it’s actually many pyramids, all built on top of the other. The first people who were there built theirs from the ground, then the next group of people who took over the territory wanted to show that they owned it, so they covered the first pyramid with theirs. And it kept going on like that, until the Spanish came to Cholula and put a church on top of it (because they wanted to show that they owned the territory too!)

The part at the bottom of the picture is the part that we visited. If you go back and forth between the model and my pictures, you’ll probably see where they were taken. It’s the part that has been excavated by the archaeologists.

To get there, we had to go through tunnels. This was the second coolest part of our day. (The first coolest part is coming soon!) Those tunnels are the ones that archaeologists dug to figure out the inside of the pyramids and its many layers.

The Tunnels

Very dark and scary

The Tunnels

A gate keeping Chris from going where he wanted to go.

The Tunnels The Tunnels The Tunnels The Tunnels

Even though we couldn’t go everywhere (there were a LOT of other tunnels that we could have explored, but they all had a gate), it was still fun to be inside there. Apparently, those extra tunnels used to be open to visitors a few years ago, but after too many people got lost and ended up going in circles for hours, they closed them. Well, that’s what Santiago told us anyway. It might also be because certain tunnels were more fragile than others.

After being in the dark for a while, we finally arrived at the ruins. It was hard for Chris and me to visualize how the pyramids were when they were first built, but we still had fun looking at all those rocks.

The Great Pyramid The Great Pyramid The Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid

They sacrificed people here.

The Great Pyramid

Here too.

The Great Pyramid

Chris clapping.

The Great Pyramid

The coolest part was the clapping part. You can see Chris doing it on the picture above. When we were in front of the stairs, the clapping sound echoed back as a bird sound. Because of the architecture, the sounds bounced off the walls in a weird way. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but it’s really cool!

The only reason we knew that is because we were with Santiago, Chris’ friend. Otherwise, we would have never tried clapping (because really, who does that anyway?) The other way to know this magic secret is to get a tour guide. We liked our local friend better, since he didn’t charge us.

The Great Pyramid Dance of the Flyers

San Gabriel Monastery

A better view of the monastery.

After the ruins, we saw a reconstitution, which was MUCH MUCH easier for our poor brains since we had never seen any Mexican pyramids before. When we arrived at the top of it, we noticed dancers on a giant pole. I was actually scared for them, since the guy in the middle was JUMPING while the four others were turning. I don’t know if they were attached to the pole or not, but I hope they were! Fortunately for them, nobody fell. It was really nice to watch their dance, after I got over the fact that they were so high in the sky. It’s called Danza de los Voladores, or in English “Dance of the Flyers.” It was definitely impressive!

Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church View of Cholula

Our last stop of the day was the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church, the one on the top of the pyramid. We could enjoy both the church and the view, which was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Even if Cholula didn’t have the best pyramids, it did have a great culture and it was definitely worth the trip, especially if you want to stop for lunch or dinner at the Ciudad Sagrada.

Have you seen Mexican pyramids before? Would you go to Cholula for a day trip? Anything you would want to try in particular?