The Great Pyramid of Cholula - Mexico

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The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for "artificial mountain"), is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.

 

Cholula great pyramid drawing

 

It is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World, as well as the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today.  The pyramid stands 55 metres (180 ft) above the surrounding plain, and in its final form it measured 400 by 400 metres (1,300 by 1,300 ft). The pyramid is a temple that traditionally has been viewed as having been dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl. The architectural style of the building was linked closely to that of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, although influence from the Gulf Coast also is evident, especially from El Tajín.

 

photoEscudo PUE Cholula Ac cholula

 

The Cholula archaeological zone is situated 6.4 kilometres (4 mi) west of the city of Puebla, in the city of Cholula. To be more exact, the pyramid is located in the San Andrés Cholula, Puebla municipality, and marks the area in the center of the city where this municipality begins. The city is divided into two municipalities called San Ándres and San Pedro. This division originates in the Toltec-Chichimeca conquest of the city in the twelfth century. These pushed the former dominant ethnicity of the Olmeca-Xicalanca, to the south of the city.  

 

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These people kept the pyramid as their primary religious center, but the newly dominant Toltec-Chichimecas founded a new temple to Quetzalcoatl where the San Gabriel monastery is now.The Toltec-Chichimec people who settled in the area around the twelfth century AD named Cholula as Tlachihualtepetl, meaning "artificial hill".

 

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The name Cholula has its Origin in the Ancient Nahuatl Word Cholollan, which means "Place of Refuge".

 

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History:

 

The Great Pyramid was an important religious and mythical centre in prehispanic times. Over a period of a thousand years prior to the Spanish Conquest, consecutive construction phases gradually built up the bulk of the pyramid until it became the largest in Mexico by volume.

 

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The Pyramid:


According to myth, the pyramid was built from adobe bricks by a giant named Xelhua, after he escaped a flood in the neighboring Valley of Mexico. The pyramid consists of six superimposed structures, one for each ethnic group that dominated it. However, only three have been studied in any depth.  

 

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The pyramid itself is just a small part of the greater archaeological zone of Cholula, which is estimated at 154 hectares (0.59 sq mi).  Building of the pyramid began in the Preclassic Period and over time was built over six times to its final dimensions of 450 metres on each side at the base and 66 metres tall. This base is four times the size of that of Pharaoh Khufu's Great Pyramid of Giza and is the largest pyramid base in the Americas.

 

cholula pyramid mexico

 

The earliest construction phase features talud-tablero architecture that is characteristic of the region, and that became strongly associated with the great metropolis of Teotihuacan.  Some of the pyramid constructions have had burials, with skeletons found in various positions, with many offerings, especially ceramics. The last state of construction has stairs on the west side leading to a temple on top, which faced Iztaccíhuatl. During the colonial period, the pyramid was severely damaged on its north side in order to build the Camino Real to Puebla. The west was damaged later with the installation of a rail line.

 

Mexico Cholula Pyramid

 

The pyramid is the main tourist attraction for Cholula.  Images of this church on top of the pyramid with Popocateptl in the background is frequently used in Mexico's promotion of tourism.  It is one of the better known destinations in central Mexico for foreign travelers.

 

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Overlooking "San Gabriel Cholula" in the State of Puebla, Mexico 

 

After climbing the pyramid, there are 48 steps extending 260 metres (850 ft) up to the church atrium. The atrium cross is placed near the main gate. It dates from 1666 and is identical to the atrium crosses at the San Gabriel Monastery and the church of San Miguel Tianguisnahutl.  The atrium is small, but its position at the top of the pyramid affords views of the Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes, the flat valley floor and the large number of church cupolas that dot the city.  The exterior of the church is plain but has a dome covered in multicolored tiles from Puebla.

 

iglesia de nuestra senora de los remedios on great pyramid of cholula 1

 

The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies Church) is a 16th-century Mexican Catholic parish church built atop the Tlachihualtepetl pyramid in the municipality of Cholula located in the central Mexican state of Puebla. The church was built with brada stone and decorated with laminilla[clarification needed] of 24 carat gold.

 

cholula puebla church pyramid mexico architecture

 

It has an altar in the neoclassical style.  It was built between May 1574 and August 1575 and consecrated on March 25, 1629. The base on which the church is built is the largest pyramid of the ancient world, being 54 metres (177 ft) high, covering 54 acres and shaped by several superimposed structures over the course of six centuries. 

 

  

Modern History of Cholula:


Architect Ignacio Marquina started exploratory tunnelling within the pyramid in 1931. By 1954, the total length of tunnels came to approximately 8.0 kilometres (5 mi). Today the pyramid at first appears to be a natural hill surmounted by a church. This is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Church of Our Lady of Remedies), also known as the Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios (Sanctuary of the Virgin of Remedies), which was built by the Spanish in colonial times (1594) on top of the prehispanic temple. The church is a major Catholic pilgrimage destination, and the site is also used for the celebration of indigenous rites. Many ancient sites in Latin America are found under modern Catholic holy sites, due to the practice of the Catholic Church of repurposing local religious sites. Because of the historic and religious significance of the church, which is a designated colonial monument, the pyramid as a whole has not been excavated and restored, as have the smaller but better-known pyramids at Teotihuacan. Inside the pyramid are some five miles (8 km) of tunnels excavated by archaeologists.

 

 

According to myth, the pyramid was built from adobe bricks by a giant named Xelhua, after he escaped a flood in the neighboring Valley of Mexico. The pyramid consists of six superimposed structures, one for each ethnic group that dominated it. However, only three have been studied in any depth. The pyramid itself is just a small part of the greater archaeological zone of Cholula, which is estimated at 154 hectares (0.59 sq mi).  Building of the pyramid began in the Preclassic Period and over time was built over six times to its final dimensions of 450 metres on each side at the base and 66 metres tall. This base is four times the size of that of Pharaoh Khufu's Great Pyramid of Giza and is the largest pyramid base in the Americas. The earliest construction phase features talud-tablero architecture that is characteristic of the region, and that became strongly associated with the great metropolis of Teotihuacan. Some of the pyramid constructions have had burials, with skeletons found in various positions, with many offerings, especially ceramics. The last state of construction has stairs on the west side leading to a temple on top, which faced Iztaccíhuatl. During the colonial period, the pyramid was severely damaged on its north side in order to build the Camino Real to Puebla. The west was damaged later with the installation of a rail line.

 

 

 

Paroxysmal eruption of The Popocatepetl Volcano (El Popo) near Mexico City in Cholula, Puebla during the night 17-18 April with strong explosions, lava fountains and an ash plume of 3-4 km height.