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Cholula city of churches

R. Sapozhnikov (2005)

Cholula is one of the most ancient cities of America. In the pre-Hispanic period it was an important religious and ceremonial center. Sacred Indian pyramids, richly decorated with gold and precious stones from the neighbouring mines, solemnly towered above the city. Probably because of this, ordered by Hernan Cortes, the conquistadors looted Cholula and killed the majority of its residents. So started the decline of the once flourishing city.
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According to the legend, Spanish invaders promised to build their churches at the places of destroyed pyramids and temples. And they did built. Only central part of Cholula counts 39 churches! And totally, they say, there are as many as 300 churches in this small city! That is the reason why Cholula is called a church capital.

The most interesting church construction of Cholula is considered to be the abbey complex San Gabriel, built in the 16th century at the place of the temple in honour of God Quetzalcoatl.

In the same 16th century with the purpose to involve Indians to catholic religion on the territory of the abbey they built a large royal chapel - Capilla Real.

But the main attraction of Cholula, undoubtedly, is a grand pyramid - Gran Piramide, turned by the catholic church into the sanctuary in honor of Holy Virgin the Consoler - Virgen de los Remedios. A catholic temple was raised high at the top of partially destroyed and buried by time Indian pyramid in honor of God Quetzalcoatl. Really this place is rather symbolic, as it clearly reflects the strive of catholicism to suppress other religions, in particular case the Indian ones.

Today, once the biggest pyramid, one foot side of which is 400 m, looks like a hill of about 60 m high with a church, holy cross and chapel on top.

Only mysterious tunnels running through the foot of the pyramid and its partially destroyed partially excavated ruins are the remnants of the past.

Another attraction of Cholula is its central square - Plaza Central that is considered to be the biggest one in Mexico after Zocalo in the capital. It is surrounded by churches and peculiar municipality building with the longest in the country arched gallery.

Neighbouring to the square streets preserve the traces of a traditional colonial city.

Among the obligatory souvenirs taken from Cholula, is the famous Talavera pottery, brought from Spain to America long time ago.


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