Zona Arqueológica

sights / Historic

Zona Arqueológica information

Cholula , Mexico
+52 222 235 97 20
Opening hours
9am-6pm Tue-Sun
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The Pirámide Tepanapa , located two blocks to the southeast of Cholula’s central plaza, looks more like a hill than a pyramid and has a domed church on top so it’s tough to miss. The town’s big drawcard is no letdown with kilometers of tunnels veining the inside of the structure. The Zona Arqueológica comprises the excavated areas around the pyramid and the tunnels underneath.

The church grounds on the peak are worth the trip alone for panoramic views across Cholula to the volcanoes and Puebla.

Visitors enter via the tunnel on the north side, which takes you on a spooky route through the center of the pyramid. Several pyramids were built on top of each other during various reconstructions, and more than 8km of tunnels have been dug beneath the pyramid by archaeologists to penetrate each stage, with 800m accessible to visitors. You can see earlier layers of the building from the access tunnel, which is a few hundred meters long.

The access tunnel emerges on the east side of the pyramid, from where you can follow a path around to the Patio de los Altares on the south side. Ringed by platforms and unique diagonal stairways, this plaza was the main approach to the pyramid. Three large stone slabs on its east, north and west sides are carved in the Veracruz interlocking scroll design. At its south end is an Aztec-style altar in a pit, dating from shortly before the Spanish conquest. On the mound’s west side is a reconstructed section of the latest pyramid, with two earlier exposed layers.

Rather than following the path south, you can head straight up the stairs to the brightly decorated Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios that tops Pirámide Tepanapa and looks down upon the Patio de los Altares. It’s a classic symbol of conquest, though possibly an inadvertent one as the church may have been built before the Spanish realized the mound contained a pagan temple. You can climb to the church for free on a path starting near the northwest corner of the pyramid.

The small Museo de Sitio de Cholula , across the road from the ticket office and down some steps, provides the best introduction to the site, with a cutaway model of the pyramid mound showing the various superimposed structures. Admission is included in the site ticket.