Cholula officially Cholula de Rivadavia is a city and district located in the center west of the state of Puebla (State), near Puebla City , in central Mexico. Cholula is best known for its Great Pyramid, with the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary on top, as well as its numerous churches. As the modern city is built over what was a major pre-Hispanic metropolis, a large part of the area has been designated as an archeological heritage site. However, only six of the 154 hectares (380 acres) declared as such have been investigated as most of the land is privately owned. This includes the Pyramid and some areas under streets where water pipes and sewerage have been modernized.



Sights and Activities

  • The Great Pyramid of Cholula The most important tourist attraction of the city is the Great Pyramid with the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary on top. At first glance, the pyramid looks like a hill as most of it is overgrown. The south side of the pyramid has been excavated and there is a network of tunnels inside. The pyramid and church receives about 220,000 visitors each year, and on certain special occasions such as the spring equinox and the feast of the Virgin of the Remedies, there can be up to 20,000 visitors at a time. From the top of the pyramid, in the sanctuary atrium, it is possible to see the Malinche, Popocatepetl, Iztaccíhuatl and Pico de Orizaba Volcanoes in the far eastern horizon.
  • Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church The sanctuary to this Virgin manifestation was established in 1594, with the first church built between then and 1666. The church has suffered damage on various occasions from lightning strikes and from earthquakes. Before the Spanish, the pyramid was considered to be sacred to a female rain deity called Chiconahuiquiahuita (Nine Rains). She was accredited with striking the new church with lightning and supposedly a stone image of her was found at the site the church is now. The lightning strikes have caused minor damage, but the earthquakes have been more serious. In 1864, the church was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. It took ten years to rebuild and was re-inaugurated in 1873. In February 1930, there was a robbery at the church. The thieves stole the jewelry that the image had been wearing, including a gold crown, a silver halo and precious stones. The next major quake to damage the building came in 1999, which damaged the towers and caused the pilgrims' portal to collapse, with damage to 80% of the building. However, the image of the Virgin, in her Fabergé box, was undamaged.
  • Mercado Municipal This market has conserved its traditional look with women seated on the floor selling seeds, flowers, herbs, and more. On Wednesdays and Sundays, this market is augmented by street vendors, which is called a tianguis, because on these days, people from the communities surrounding the city come to buy and sell. The market specializes in locally produced products, especially flowers, fruit, vegetables and others. There are also food stands preparing local dishes.
  • Container City is a complex constructed from large shipping containers, located at the intersection of 12 Oeste and 2 Norte. The idea is from England, but this version was built by a Mexican organization. Fifty of these containers have been joined and painted with bright colors to create 4,500 metres of spaces used to house workshops, restaurants, galleries and other businesses. There are even a few homes made of the containers in the area. The hallways have wireless Internet service, a music lounge for visitors, an entertainment area, ping pong tables and more.
  • La Quinta Luna is a 17th-century house located in the Santa María Xixitla neighborhood, cataloged by INAH as a historic monument. It was converted into a boutique hotel, affiliated with the Hoteles Boutique de México. It was the home of an indigenous noble by the name of Juan de León y Mendoza, built with adobe walls and very high ceilings. The hotel contains seven luxury rooms, a meeting room, a library, a lobby and a restaurant, surrounding a central courtyard which has a garden. The lobby and restaurant are located in what was the chapel. The library area contains about 3,000 books and its roof is crossed by beams which were rescued during renovations to the building. The decoration is based on paintings by Federico Silva and Gerardo Gomez Brito, various pieces done in local onyx and a number of antiques from various places in the world. The lobby occasionally hosts small concerts.
  • Parque Loro is a petting zoo containing more than 400 animals, including endangered species like monkeys, tigers, jaguars, pumas, reptiles and miniature horses. It has an auditorium with animal shows. It also has a playground, an area for pre-Hispanic dance and an area in which visitors can have their picture taken with an animal.
  • Antigua Casa del Gobernador was probably built after San Andrés received its status as an Indian Republic, which was in 1714. This building held sessions of the council, elections for governor, mayors and other officials of the Republic. During the 19th century, it remained as the city council hall, but today is a multipurpose facility.



Events and Festivals

The most important festival period in Cholula extends from 31 August to the middle of September, which revolves around the patron saint of the city, the Virgin of the Remedies. On the night of August 31, there is the Procesión de los Faroles (Procession of the Lamps). It begins with a procession around the streets of the city, with each neighborhood carrying an image of its patron saint. At nine pm, the procession arrives to San Gabriel friary to sing and pray during what is called the "hora santa" (holy hour). The night ends at the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church on top of the pyramid with Mass and the singing of "Las Mañanitas" to the Virgin. This tradition is recent, being only about twenty years old.

  • The Feast of the Virgin of the Remedies officially begins on September 1 and lasts for about a week. The events of the week lead up to September 8, which is the Virgin's day, which commemorates her appearance in the city. Events include indigenous dancing such as the Concheros performed in the atrium and other locations, and pilgrims bring offerings to the image. In the afternoon, there is a burning of images called a "panzones." A panzon is an effigy made of crêpe paper with fireworks in its belly. "Panzon" means "large belly." This effigy is burned, with the fireworks going off last. After it is burned, it is taken to the neighborhood which is charged with the creation of a new one the following year.
  • Bajada de la Virgen also involves involves the Virgin of the Remedies. This time, instead of the masses climbing the pyramid to honor her, she comes down for two weeks in May or June to visit the various neighborhoods and surrounding rural communities. The tradition of bringing down the image from the pyramid began in 1825. The next occurred in 1870 and the third in 1890. Today, it is an annual event, but it is not the original image which leaves, rather it is a substitute. The reason for this is that the processions take a toll on the ancient image. The replicas of the image are considered to be "sisters" to the original, with the impression that it is the idea of the Virgin which is important, not the physical image. The last time the original image left the church was in 1999, due to the earthquake. It was kept at the friary of San Gabriel until it could be returned after repairs.
  • Vaniloquio is an event when most of the city's thirty seven churches coordinate their ringing to music written by Llorenc Barber especially for the purpose. The concert involves more than 150 bells, rung by 130 people. The most important day for this event is 28 November, but it also occurs on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday. Three rockets fired from the center of the city signals the beginning. The city recommends that listeners climb onto a rooftop or the Pyramid or wander the streets to hear the concert best. The concert is proceeded by Aztec dance in the main square, as well as a cheese, bread and wine tasting event.
  • Fiesta de Pobres and Labradores This festival is also known as the Feast of the Holy Trinity. It lasts approximately one month between the months of May and June. Merchants, woodworkers, general laborers, farm workers and flower growers participate in this feast. The festival also has in attendance one of the "sister" images of the Virgin of the Remedies brought down from the sanctuary at the top of the pyramid. Another event dedicated to the common people is the festival of Isidore the Laborer, when farm workers form a parade with their agricultural machines decorated with flowers.

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

  • Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.
  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.




The area has a temperate subtropical highland climate typical of South-Central Mexico, with an average temperature of between 18 and 20 °C. January is the coldest months with average temperatures between 10 and 16 °C, and May is the warmest with averages between 20 and 22 °C. The 'high-sun' rainy season lasts from May to October and provides about 800 to 900 millimetres of rainfall per year. These conditions are what made the area important agriculturally starting in the pre Hispanic era.



Getting There

By Bus

There are two buses (about 40 min) running from CAPU the bus station in Puebla and one express bus (about 20 min) that runs from the Choula-Puebla bus station near the centre of Puebla, M$7.50 (pesos).

There are also collectivos that run from the corner of Calle 5 Pte and Calle 3 Sur of Puebla to Cholula.

Another option is Estrella Roja buses that run direct from TAPO Bus Station in Mexico City, but there are only 4 a day (04:30, 08:30, 12:30, 16:30). M$82.



Getting Around

By Car

Just be careful of the many one ways streets in and around the center of Cholula, they can be confusing to the first timers.

By Foot

Most of the sights of Cholula can walked to in no time at all, the exception may be to Camino Real where most of the bars are located (opposite UDLA) about 25 min walk from the zocalo.

By Bike

A large majority of the Cholulu's and the university students get around by bike, so if you you are thinking a somewhat more long term stay, ask around the various bike shops you should be able to pick one up for M$400-500.



Keep Connected


Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.


See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.


The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.


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This is version 5. Last edited at 9:44 on Jun 26, 20 by road to roam. 2 articles link to this page.

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