While I was in Puebla, Mexico, I decided to take a day trip to San Pedro Cholula, a village about a 15 minute cab ride away from Puebla. Puebla is the 4th largest city in Mexico with millions of inhabitants, while Cholula is a small town with an ancient history.
I wanted to visit Cholula for it’s archeological site, a pyramid. The largest pyramid in the world, in fact. And the pyramid is certainly there, but the thing is – most of it is covered by dirt and looks like a hill.
According to Wikipedia:
The temple-pyramid complex was built in four stages, starting from the 3rd century BCE through the 9th century CE, and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It has a base of 450 by 450 metres (1,480 by 1,480 ft) and a height of 66 m (217 ft). According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is in fact the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at over 4.45 million cubic meters, even larger than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt which is about 2.5 million cubic meters.
Centuries later, a Catholic church was built at the very top of the “hill” (the top of the pyramid). So, you see the pyramid structure at the bottom of the hill (see pic above), but then, you look waaaayyyy up to the top of the hill and you see a bright yellow church.
Again, from Wikipedia:
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.
You can climb to the top of the hill, or pyramid, by way of a slashed-rock walkway of near vertical incline. Many pilgrims made their way up the hill on the day I visited.
Eventually, you come upon a vertical staircase, the last of your journey before you see the church:
The church doesn’t look 400+ years old…
I wish I could show you what the inside of the church looks like, but it is not permitted. No photographs can be taken inside the church. But the thing that made an impression on me inside this church was the incredible smell. There were dozens upon dozens of live flower arrangements spread everywhere in the church, which is small inside. The entire alter was covered with them and it was lovely. Mexican pilgrims would enter the church, sit in the pews for a few minutes, make a small donation and leave. I watched in fascination as wave after wave of people came and went. There were no services, and everyone came in and prayed silently.
When I wandered back out of the church, I couldn’t help but take pictures of the town of Cholula laid out in front of me, even though it was a foggy day.
At the center of the town, is another fortress like structure, which is actually a convent. It was built in 1549. Of course I wandered down into the center of town to take more photographs of this impressive structure.
Filed under: Blog post, Mexico, Travel | Tagged: Catholic, Cholula, church, convent, Great pyramid of Cholula, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, mexico, pyramid, Quetzalcoatl, Tlachihualtepetl | Leave a Comment »