|About Cholula & Puebla:
__Puebla today is the product
of its historical past. The strongly Catholic communities
of today were shaped by experiences of the ancient indigenous
peoples and the influences of the Spanish Conquistadors. The
Europeans brought their traditions, language, foods, art,
architecture, customs, and religion which all emerged as the
dominant force in the development of a new Mexican society.
The material culture found in colonial Puebla lends itself
to examining the history from three points: 1. The pyramid
of the indigenous peoples, 2. The forts of the battle of Puebla,
and 3. The many Catholic churches and cathedrals.
Pyramid of Cholula
__Many visitors to Mexico are
eager to view the huge Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán.
But most do not know that this is not the largest pyramid
in Mexico. In order to experience this structure, tourists
must travel two hours to the south to Cholula which is just
outside the city of Puebla. Actually, it is several small
pyramids built on top of each other. It was the belief that
the larger the pyramid, the more powerful the people. These
inhabitants certainly wanted to be the best.
__Not only is the Cholula pyramid
the largest, but the town is the oldest continuing settlement
in Mesoamerica. This site has never been abandoned since it
was established by the Cholultecas in 200 B.C. as a worship
center to the rain and fertility god, Tláloc. The temple
at Cholula flourished after the decline of Teotihuacán
in 650 C.E. Outside the pyramid is a large plaza where human
sacrifices occurred. At Cholula, children were often the offering.
It was considered a privilege to be sacrificed. So mothers
often looked for the physical characteristics that marked
their child as a future offering. One of these marking was
a double cowlick in the hair of the child.
__Later, as Tenochtitlán
became an important center in Mexico, traders passed through
Cholula on their way north. Cholula now became a center for
commerce and the pyramid was where buying and selling took
place. As this area grew, new tribes took control. The worship
of Tláloc was moved from this old Cholula pyramid to
a new temple which was located in the center of present-day
Cholula. The old temple remained active but as a secondary
site only. By the time the Spanish arrived, the people were
worshiping Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. Cortés
introduced his own religion to this area in order to subdue
the Indians. He had a new temple built and dedicated to the
Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, the Virgin of the Remedies.
__Today, visitors have a spectacular
view of the church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.
It sits high upon the pyramid which is now overgrown with
plants and looks more like a hill than a pyramid. The smoking
volcano, Popocateptl, sits in the background. Tourist can
actually see parts of the pyramid by walking through tunnels
made by archaeologist in the 1930s. All around the Puebla
area, there are hills similar to this one in Cholula. Some
have been excavated like Cacaxtla in Tlaxcala. However, it
is difficult to travel through the countryside and not wonder,
"Is it a hill or is it another pyramid?"
Battle of Puebla
_ The Mexican
government in 1862 had just finished the Mexican-American war and
was involved in a "revolution" to re-establish the Loyalist
government. As the liberals, headed by Benito Juarez, gained momentum,
the Loyalists appealed to the French and Napoleon III sent his cousin
Maximillian to Mexico as head of one of the best armies in the world
at that time.
Particular to the area of Puebla were two forts or "fuertes"
in Spanish, called Guadalupe and Loreto. They were situated about
500 meters apart on a hill overlooking the center of the town. Both
forts were manned, not only with regular Mexican troops, but also
with Indians who were recruited and showed up with sticks, rocks,
and machetes specifically to fight the French. Although there was
not any particular loyalty to the Mexican government on the part
of the Indians, they fought probably to keep the way of life they
_ The third and
decisive battle was aided by the rain. The dirt surrounding the
fort quickly turned to mud and with men and horses constantly on
it, to a mire. The French were unable to move their artillery in
and the Mexicans eventually prevailed. Although the Mexicans won
this battle and lost the war, that fact has not deterred the country
from declaring May 5th a holiday. Celebrations occur mostly in Puebla
and curiously enough, in the United States where Hispanic communities
usually have a traditional meal and traditional music.
Cathedrals and Churches
_ On a clear
day the landscape of Puebla is dominated by the snow-capped volcano
of Popocatepetl or "Popo." It is the second highest peak
in Mexico. From Cholula, the visitor can't help but notice the remains
of the largest pyramid in Mesoamerica. At the top of the pyramid
is the church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios which was
constructed in 1874. This vantage point looks over the cities of
Cholula and Puebla and the 53 churches located in the area.
With the Spanish Conquest of the early 16th century came major efforts
by the Spanish to convert the indigenous peoples to Catholicism.
To prevent ancient religious practices and to convince the people
of the power of the Catholic church, huge cathedrals were built
at the peak of their existing pyramids. Further evidence of the
Spaniards' attempt to convert the indigenous people to Catholicism
can be seen inside the famous Santa Maria Tonanzintla church. With
the influence of the European Baroque style, architects designed
the ornate interior of this church with colorful saints, fruit,
angles, and cherubs. Begun in the 16th century, it took Indian craftsmen
more than 200 years to complete this cathedral. This style has been
called "Folk Baroque" and "Popular Baroque."
For more history on Cholula and Puebla
Brief history of Puebla
Brief history of Cholula 1
Brief history of Cholula 2
Brief history of Cholula and Puebla
Weather and Maps
Weather report for the state of Puebla
Roads in Puebla
Architecture and Archeology in Cholula
Architecture in Puebla
Archeology in Puebla
Pictures of Puebla
The ruins of Cholula 1
The ruins of Cholula 2
The ruins of Cholula 3
The ruins of Cholula 4
About México, Puebla and the
Website of Cholula and Puebla for tourists
Welcome to San Pedro Cholula
Welcome to San Andrés Cholula