Cholula is a small town located just outside of Puebla, Mexico and home to one of Mexico’s best kept secrets. Few people know about the Pyramid hidden in plain sight. In 1594, the Spanish built the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Remedies on the top of a hill, likely unaware of the secret hidden underneath. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is one of the largest pyramids in the world. We enjoyed exploring this ruins of a long lost civilizations. They don’t get much better than this.
From a distance, it looks like a mountain. To the cascual observer, It isn’t obvious that it is hiding a secret. It would be hard to assume there was anything of significance built underneath. The city had been abandoned for hundreds of years when the Spanish arrived. The Great Pyramid of Cholula (known as Tlachihualtepetl) was an important religious site that had been built up in stages over thousands of years. Construction of the pyramid dates back as far as the 3rd Century BCE.
While the town of Cholula was quite lovely, the main reason we were visiting was to explore the pyramid and surrounding city complex.
What makes The Pyramids of Cholula so amazing?
This is one of the most impressive archeological zones in Mexico, as there is a massive pyramid built hereOne of the most exciting reason to visit the Pyramid of Cholula; you can actually go inside and travel through a narrow passage traveling through the center.
We started our adventure by walking the staircase to the top of the hill. This is where the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Remedies, a church that was built by the Spanish in 1594.This has been a major pilgrimage site since it’s completion in the 16th century.
It was the perfect place to build a church, as the local legends spoke of its importance. The true history of this location remained hidden for many years. After visiting the church we walked around the pyramid, exploring the ruins of the city which existed here. The pyramid was modeled after the pyramids at Teotihuacan.
As far as we know, there are not many Pyramids around the world that you can go inside. Much of the pyramid has been excavated and there are many passageways that have been opened up to tourists. With only one route you can travel along, there is no way to get lost. Through a dimly lit corridor you can travel through the heart of the pyramid, exiting on the other side.
Largest Pyramid in the World.
This pyramid is located at the center of what was once a thriving city state in central Mexico. It was abandoned and eventually hidden by nature. When the Spanish arrived, they recognized the importance of this hill and built a church.
It is the largest pyramid in the world; twice the volume and four times the base of the Great Pyramid at Giza. It was known as Tlachihualtepetl and was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl. The pyramid at Cholula rises 66 meters (217 feet) above the surrounding plains. It is twice the volume and four times the base of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The base of the pyramid at Cholula measures at 450 by 450 meters.
The first exploration of the Pyramid complex began in 1881. It was excavated twice, first between the 1930-50s and again in 1966-70. What has been excavated reveals an impressive picture of what life must have looked like, including the courtyard of the alters. Towards the end of the ruins, there is one structure (Building F) that you can still climb up.
Where is Cholula and how do you get there?
Cholula was named as a Puebla Magico, recognizing towns in Mexico with cultural importance. It is located about 6km outside of Puebla, though the boundary between modern day Puebla and Cholula has been blurred by slow expansion of the two municipalities. They are both part of the same urban zone. It was close enough that we took a taxi.
The highlight is definitely the towering pyramid. Much of the surrounding area below the pyramid has been excavated. It was worth spending a few hours exploring. There are several nearby museums to visit to learn about the history of the region.
The history of Mexico is shared by many great civilizations before the arrival of the Spanish. Cholula is a great example where these two histories intersect. The colonial city and Great Pyramid at Cholula was one of the top highlights from our trip through Central Mexico. It is "must see" if you're visiting Puebla. You will not be disappointed.
Pyramids & Puebla of Cholula
The Pyramid of Cholula
From a distance, it looks like a hill or a mound of dirt. Built on the top of this hill is the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Remedies, which was built in 1594 when the Spanish were colonizing the area. It is painted yellow and hard to miss. Buried underneath the dirt is the Tlachihualtepetl, a massive pyramid dedicated to Quetzalcoatl. It is the largest pyramid in the world, with twice the volume and four times the base of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The best part about the Pyramid at Cholula? You can go inside...