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Leicester, United Kingdom
November 21, 2004
In the cabinets around the room are exhibits from different cultures, from the oldest to the youngest ones. Cholula was first inhabited around 100 to 600 A.D. That’s the time when the pyramid was build by the Olmecs. Then it was taken over by Toltects (900 to 1300 A.D.) and even later by Aztecs. We can also observe some influence of the Mixtecs.
The best thing to see in here is hidden in a darkened hall, where there stands a replica of the butterfly wall that was revealed in the second stage of the archaeological investigation carried out here. Also, there is the replica of a wall of drinkers showing more than 100 human figures during a ceremony in honour of the Octli god (god of eau-de-vie).
When you get out of the museum and have finished exploring the tunnels, climb up to the hill for a really nice view of the city, where there is said to be so many churches that you can visit a different one every day for an entire year. If you are still not tired, head down to the main square (known, like everywhere in Mexico, as zocalo) and glance in to some of them.
This museum gives you a rough introduction to the history of the site and equips you for your own exploration, so give it a go. Let’s see what can be revealed in the darkness of pyramid’s heart. The museum has the same opening hours as the tunnels, Monday to Sunday from 10:00am to 16:30pm. Admission is 30 pesos, but is free on Sundays.
From journal In the Darkness of the Pyramid’s Heart
When Cortez (Spanish explorer and conqueror) arrived to Cholula, the pyramid was already covered with earth; the natives called it Tlachihualtepetl (meaning hill made by hand). It is the most ancient city in the Americas. Its name is derived from Cholollan (place of those who escaped) or Chololoa (water that falls). During the conquest, the Spanish noticed that that there was a hillock in the centre of the city that hid the pyramid’s base and so they decided to build on the top of this small church. This church is now the landmark of Cholula, shiny in the sunny days and shadowed when the days become shorter, dedicated to the Healing Virgin in 1594.
This archaeological site started to be explored in 1931 by Ignacio Marquina. After 25 years, 8km of tunnels were dug and seven bases were discovered. As you get out from the tunnel, follow the path around the pyramid and it will lead you to the archaeological zone as it is uncovered today. Follow the signs around the pelota ground and ceremonial hall. Just before getting to this zone, don’t miss the round altar on the grass that was used by ancient priests to sacrifice their victims. To win the favour of the god of rain, the victim had to be pure and young, so the choice fell on children aged 6 to 7 years old. Horrifying is it? You can still feel goose bumps all over you body while there . . .
Just about a few metres of tunnels are accessible for tourist, from 10:00am to 4:30pm every day. The entrance fee is 30 pesos, but it is free on Sundays.