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09.04.2009

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Cholula
More places of the surroundings of Mexico City

 

First class religious centre in the Mesoamerican world, the region of Cholula houses in more than 120 temples, some of the most outstanding treasures of popular art of the Americas. Cholula is located 90 km to the east of Mexico City in the state of Puebla, at the skirts of the Sierra Nevada. Its millenary history dates back to the 5th Century A.D., when the development of the city began,  becoming, with time, a very powerful theocratic state that would produce the largest pyramid in ancient Mexico.  With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the violence and lack of tolerance towards the local faith was cruelly manifested in this city; part of the population was massacred, the local idols thrown off their pedestals and a new faith implanted in their altars. It was in this manner that the 365 legendary pre-Hispanic temples of the region where replaced, according to tradition, by another 365 Christian temples, one for each day of the year; recycling the rocks from the destroyed indigenous altars, to build the temples of the new faith. With the passing years the pyramids became hills that blended with the volcanic landscape that surrounds them, at the top of which were erected the temples of the new god who was brought by the Europeans. But these new temples were neither Spanish nor indigenous; they were a fusion of both cultures, an assimilation of ideas and concepts that the inhabitants of the area interpreted by recreating a new world in which they adored their ancient gods, but in a different way than usual. In this manner, the initial, sober constructions like the Misión de Huejotzingo, which remind us of the romantic Mediterranean, mix also with Gothic and Renaissance elements. Afterwards, in other constructions, this sobriety became diluted; the facades became saturated with symbols, meanings, materials and colours in a game in which their anonymous creators impressed their unique expressions, conquering, through art, the religion that had come from other places and that now became an individual expression of the world and of life. 

As if this region was destined to shelter the gods houses, in Cholula and the surrounding towns, the temples and bell towers succeed one another in a colourful display; from the peaceful streets of the city of Atlixco, and the chromatic chaos and impressive façade of San Francisco Acatepec, to the immoderate number of angels and sculptures inside the temple of Santa María Tonantzintla and the monumental proportions of the main atrium of Cholula; they are all a short distance away from each other and can be visited in a single day.

To arrive at Cholula, enter from the Mexico-Puebla highway, taking the detour towards Atlixco; it takes approximately one hour from Mexico City. Once youre there, you can visit the towns of Chipilo, known as Mexicos little Italy, San Francisco Acatepec, Santa María Tonantzintla and Cholula. If you have time, you can also visit the tranquil spaces of the Ex-Hacienda de Chautla, near San Martín Texmelucan, on the way back to Mexico City.

 

 

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