ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES IN PUEBLA

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Archaeology in Puebla

Puebla has a great pre-Hispanic heritage. There are diverse archaeological zones, and some of the most outstanding are: Cholula, one of the most important ceremonial centers; Cantona, known worldwide as the splendour of Mesoamerican urbanization; and Yohualichan, that means “The house of the mysterious night” at the Sierra Norte.

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Map of Archaeological Sites in Puebla

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Cholula was a very important city during pre-Hispanic times, called Cholollan, the space currently occupied by the archaeological site is only a small part of what was once the city, as important as Teotihuacán or Monte Albán. Cholula has its apogee during the Postclassic period and at the time of the arrival of Hernán Cortés it was the second most important city, just behind Tenochtitlán.

The Great Pyramid called Tiachihualtepetl (“handmade hill”) is the largest pre-Hispanic structure in the world in terms of volume, it covered an area of more than 400 meters on each side and was 60 meters high without counting the temple at the top . The pyramid was built for the god Chicomenaquihuitl (nine rains) and was covered with a thick layer of stucco painted in bright colors and decorated with symbolic designs.

At the top were up to seven temples, each with its own plinths, stairs, and hallways. Today there are some remains of the façade of one of these buildings and it is decorated with a very well preserved painting that represents a ritual ceremony and is known as the “Drinkers Mural”.

Cholula
Cholula

On each side of the great pyramid, there were open spaces bordered by elegantly decorated buildings. The one in the south plaza is known as the “patio of the altars”, considered one of the most spectacular places, where buildings, altars and stelae are engraved, similar to those of El Tajín, all distributed in great harmony.

There are about 8 km of tunnels that allow the observation of the different construction phases and that can be visited. Two pre-Hispanic murals stand out, the mural of the drinkers and the mural of the grasshoppers.

In the area there is a Site Museum housed in a modern building and displays many of the pieces that have been found on the site, as well as recreations of its murals and a model of the great pyramid. Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Yohualichan
Yohualichan

It was a Totonac settlement founded 1800 years ago, around 200 AD in the Cuetzalan region, and was occupied until 800 AD This important ceremonial center was contemporary with El Tajín, and shares an architectural style with this famous site, in particular incorporating rows of window-like niches along the terraces of the pyramids.

The complex is oriented towards the north and the longest part of the great square is from east to west; Around it are pyramidal buildings, which according to their importance have one or more bodies. Two of these buildings have been explored; one is oriented to the east and the other to the north. The latter is known as the Temple of the Greca.

Both buildings are the largest and are made up of five staggered bodies that have a slope and a deck, where there are niches crowned by a commiss made of three protruding slabs. These niches are of two types, in most, the slabs form a quadrangle and in others double square.

Its ball court is one of the largest in Mesoamerica, since it measures almost 100 meters. long.

The incredible acoustics of the Main Plaza allow you to perfectly hear the sounds emitted from the Mirador or the Plaza del Campanario. This is important, as this was a community gathering point. In addition, the buildings that surround the Main Square are perfectly aligned with the four cardinal points.

On days when the wind blows very strong, a very special sound is produced by the hiss of the air that is produced when passing through the niches. Monday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Cantona
Cantona

A large fortified city and an important commercial center, Cantona controlled the trade route between the Gulf Coast and the Central Highlands. The inhabitants became important producers of artifacts made of obsidian, there were more than 300 workshops where skilled craftsmen worked with obsidian.

It covered approximately 12 square kilometers and was a prominent city between 600 and 900 AD. C. reached its cultural apogee between 300 a. C. and A.D. 600, and around A.D. 150, the site had as many as 27 ball courts.

Cantona distinguished itself from other urban centers in Mesoamerica for its complex and efficient network of circulation routes; It is estimated that there were around 4 thousand streets to communicate the population with each other, as well as roads that led to fields, quarries, deposits and other towns. The old city also stood out for its asymmetric architecture that was the result of the uneven terrain.

Another characteristic feature of its architecture was the lack of cement to join the buildings. No stucco or mud was used on the external surfaces. They decorated the facades using the natural color and texture of the stones.

It is worth visiting the Plaza del Este or the Pyramid of the Mirador, with a beautiful panoramic view of the archaeological site. Other important structures are the Ball Court complex 7 and the Ball Court complex 5. It is also recommended to visit the residential units surrounded by peripheral walls.

It has a Site Museum that shows many of the pieces found in one of the largest and most populous metropolises in Mesoamerica.

In its exhibition you can see bone remains of regional animals, various pieces that were used in everyday life, musical instruments, green stone and shell ornaments and human bone remains. Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Teteles de Santo Nombre
Teteles de Santo Nombre

This was the largest pre-Hispanic city in the Tehuacán-Zucatlán region and was considered an important enclave for trade and interaction that the Central, Gulf and Oaxaca areas maintained in pre-Hispanic times.

It extends over an area of more than 60 ha. where there are several architectural ensembles with squares, platforms, temples and some rooms.

It has a Site Museum where Teteles’ commercial relations with other regions are illustrated, as well as objects and pieces from the area. In one of its eight rooms a video is projected that narrates the history and characteristics of this settlement. It is located in the municipality of Tlacotepec de Benito Juárez, 90 km from the city of Puebla. Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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“LA MESA” o TEHUACÁN VIEJO

“La Mesa” – Tehuacan El Viejo

This area is located in the vicinity of the town of San Diego Chalma, on the plateau known as La Mesa, on the slopes of Cerro Colorado and with a privileged view of the Tehuacán Valley.

The Temple dedicated to the Lord of the underworld called Mictlantecuhtli stands out. In its lateral walls, located to the west and north, niches with human skulls fixed with stucco were found. This find is important, since no other similar temple dedicated to this deity had been found.

It has a Site Museum housed in a modern building with more than 80 archaeological pieces where clay figures known as “xantiles” stand out, which are exclusive to the region, as well as different gods such as: Xipe, totec, Xochipilli, Xochiquétzal and of course Quetzalcoátl.

It is located in the municipality of Tehuacán, Puebla on the Federal Highway that goes to Oaxaca, you reach the town of San Diego Chalma and continue to the San Isidro neighborhood and a little further on you reach the archaeological site. Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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TEPEXI EL VIEJO

Tepexi el Viejo
Tepexi el Viejo

The site served as the head of one of the most important Popolocan manors and was occupied from 1300 AD. Until the Conquest. The site was occupied by the Mexica at the beginning of the 16th century, although they did not have any cultural influence, since the pieces and buildings continued to be typically Popolocas.

The archaeological remains are located in the upper part of a low hill, flanked on three sides by deep ravines.

The core part of the site is a walled fortress that is located in the upper part of a low hill, in the middle of two deep ravines (140 meters high. The area is made up of a wall that surrounds the exposed archaeological structures, consisting of squares and ceremonial mounds. Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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CERRITOS DE SAN CRISTÓBAL TEPATLAXCO

Cerritos de San Cristóbal Tepatlaxco
Cerritos de San Cristóbal Tepatlaxco

It is located very close to San Martín Texmelucan and to date the origin of its ancient settlers is unknown. Its name is due to its location, since it is located near this population.

The archaeological site was populated between 300 BC. and 600 AD and it is considered a fortified place of Olmec influence, which was possibly a ceremonial and military center. It has nine pyramidal bases with heights of approximately 2.5 to 9 meters, some of them in the ceremonial area and others more dispersed. Many of them built on the banks of the ravines.

The structures called Mound A and East Slope stand out, where a staircase was discovered where five steps of volcanic stone are still preserved. Wednesday to Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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TEPAPAYECA

Tepapayeca
Tepapayeca

It is a small area, since most of the pre-Hispanic buildings are under the houses of the town. The site was occupied in the Late Postclassic (1200-1521) and was a ceremonial center where 5 buildings were built, of which there are only vestiges of the main temple.

On the largest building the Dominicans built a chapel in the 16th century and in it you can see remains of the walls of the pre-Hispanic building.

It is located in a town of Tepapayeca that belongs to the municipality of Tlapanalá, an hour and a half south of the City of Puebla. Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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