Vamos a Cholula

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Cholula

Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Cholula is a hop, skip and a jump away from Puebla. By car it only takes about 20 minutes, by bus you should expect a journey of about 40 minutes which costs 8 pesos, or if you are going by Taxi you should expect to pay about 80 pesos. It is divided into two parts, San Pedro Cholula and San Andres Cholula. This post is about San Pedro where the Great Pyramid is located. San Andres is the location of many bars and clubs so is a very popular destination for many poblanos in the evenings at the weekend (but that’s for another post). Cholula is an exceptional place. Unbelievably for such a small city (population of 100,000) it is said to have 365 churches. This might be a slight exaggeration but it gives you an idea of what the city looks like – practically a church on every corner. Cholula is home to the Great Pyramid which is said to be the biggest pyramid in the world in terms of its base size. Now this isn’t your typical egyptian pyramid, but a pyramid that looks like a very big hill with a church at the top of it (Nuestra Señora de los Remedios). The pyramid has been excavated in certain parts so you can see original sections. These are impressive and very much in the style of Teotihuacan (Mexico City).

Climb up to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

One of the best things about going to Cholula is the walk up to church at the top of the pyramid. A recent trip (made by my friends and myself) showed an in shape person can get up to the top within five to ten minutes, but be warned it is a little steep and I would suggest to take water with you. On the way up to the top, there is a woman who sells edible insects. You HAVE to try them. Surprisingly they are quite delicious (salty and lemony) , and it’s a good story to take home with you. Once you reach the top, not only do you have the beautiful site of the church but also amazing views of Puebla. On a clear day you will also have the bonus of the most stunning view of the beloved Popo (Popocatépetl) which is the Poblano Volcano.

Mmm delicious crickets

On your way down from the church, or before you go up, I suggest going into the tunnels of the pyramid. These were created by archaeologists in the 1930’s but feature real parts of the pyramid that can be seen from the passage ways. The tunnels lead you conveniently out right next to the excavated archaeological sites which show different parts of the pyramid. There is also a small museum which gives a lot of interesting information about the pyramid, and has a really great model of the entire site.

Inside the Labyrinth of Tunnels of the Great Pyramid

A part of the Great Pyramid

If you are able to come in to Cholula by car there are other beautiful places to see as well as the pyramid and its surroundings. One of these places is San Francisco Acatepec which has a beautiful facade and has been called the ‘porcelain temple’. Another beautiful church is Santa Maria Tonantzintla also on the outskirts of Cholula.

Finally, if you can make your trip to Cholula during a weekday the better, as at the weekend it can get very busy.

San Francisco Acatepec

Vamos a Cuetzalan, Pueblo Mágico

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Cuetzalan

Welcome to Cuetzalan! A hill-top town which has a reputation that proceeds itself amongst most poblanos, but for us foreigners is [most likely] completely unknown. Cuetzalan is a small town set high in the hills of the sierra norte of the state of Puebla, which makes for a great weekend trip. It is only 183 km from the capital, Puebla, but takes around 3 to 4 hours to get there, due to the mountainous roads. Cuetzalan is not just any town but a ‘magical town’ or ‘Pueblo Mágico’. ‘Pueblo Mágico’ is an initiative run by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism to promote towns that have been specifically hand picked as they offer a magical experience due to to their natural beauty, rich culture or historical importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes Cuetzalan so magical? It is a stunning town characterised by its cobbled streets and rustic buildings. It offers a breathtaking setting amongst the hills of the Sierra Madre. Cuetzalan’s main town square (zócalo) is beautiful and offers a few market stalls most days. However the best time to visit is the weekend as Sunday offers the biggest market of the week with the local indigenous community selling all types of goods from fruit to meat to textiles. The food sold in Cuetzalan is delicious, just like in the city of Puebla, but somehow eating street food from a town makes it always that much tastier. The prices are very appealing too. For example the ‘gorditas’ pictures below would cost you approx. 2 pesos each (bargain!).

It is not only the town center that makes Cuetzalan so worth visiting, but also its surrounding area. Pretty much located amongst a jungle type environment, there are many hikes and trails which will lead you tobeautiful waterfalls like the one pictured below. I suggest you go to the tourism office, located in the zócalo, and ask for a local guide, who you can pay for the day to take you around to all the waterfalls. If it is a warm day, you can even go for a swim!

Where to stay? I stayed at a hotel called ‘Hotel La Casa de Piedra‘, which I highly recommend, it is about 2 minutes walk from the zócalo and offers a very rustic, intimate and hacienda-like setting. Prices start from approx. 800 pesos.

How do I get there? You can go from Puebla’s biggest bus station CAPU with the bus line, VIA, the trip takes 3.5 hours and costs 161 pesos. You can find the full bus schedule and costs here as well as how to get to Cuetzalan by car.

Any info missing? The town has a website which is a fantastic resource full of information about hotels, places to visit, restaurants and adventure trips. Check it out here. Be warned it is all in spanish, so if you need any help contact me here or on Soy Poblana’s facebook page.

¡Buen Viaje!