“So, have you been there? Well? Well?” For a long time my answer was “no”. I hadn’t been there – yet. Apparently when you live in the State of Hidalgo this is one of the questions your family, friends and neighbours have to ask you. In order to be able to finally answer the question we went towards Tula de Allende. Situated in Hidalgo, this is the starting point for a visit to the ruins of Tula. This was once the capital of the Toltecs. Teotihuacán, the enormous Aztec city, had already been destroyed when Tula was founded around 900 A.D.
The weather was hot (some 34 Degrees Celsius) the day we visited Tula. When we arrived, it appeared to be an open field and there was hardly any shade in the area. Luckily we could enter for free, because it was Sunday and that’s the day when musea and
archaeological places in Mexico are free to visit for Mexicans and people with a resident permit. Before you arrive at the main attraction, you are guided along merchants through a dusty winding path. They will try to sell you all kinds of trumpery. Yet the route is worth it, besides that it’s the only one available. The surroundings are magnificent!
While the path winds further, afar you begin to see Tula. The first thing you notice before walking towards the main attraction, is the Wall of the Serpent, called Coatepantli. It’s a beautiful piece of work, a wall of some 40 meters and almost 2 meters high on which one can see a relief of serpents who swallow humans. After admiring this wall, you will walk a little bit further towards the most famous structure of Tula: the Pirámide de Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, in English the ‘Pyramid of the Morning Star’. On top of this pyramid are four Atleantan figures, who are popularly called the Giants. The Atleantan figures represent Toltec warriors who once carried the roof of the temple of this pyramid. Unfortunately the roof is gone, but the Atleanten figures are still there.
The Giants of Tula, are they really that gigantic? After a visit to Teotihuacán they were not that big as I thought they would be. Every ‘warrior’ is a little bit higher than 4 meters. And yes, that is tall and it’s hard to imagine how people succeeded in placing the statues on top of the pyramid, but when you have already visited Teotihuacán – with pyramids as high as 80 meters – they simply do not appear to be that big. Especially when you walk around with the question in mind that everyone had to ask: “Have you already been to the GIANTS of Tula?!”
A fun anecdote comes from the Insight Guide Mexico (2008). A “Swiss author and promotor of a sort of utopian astro-religion says that the Atleantan figures carry laser weapons which they took with them from another planet.” So, take a look at the pictures and judge for yourself. I couldn’t discover the weapons, neither did I see UFO’s, but it remains a strange sensation to observe four huge men made out of stone on top of a pyramid. How were the Toltecs able to get them up there? Why are they there?
In spite of the heat we had a great day and a beautiful experience. All in all a visit to Tula is a must-do when you visit Hidalgo or stay in Mexico City. Make sure you have enough time because it will take a day to visit and afterwards eat something in one of the restaurants in Tula de Allende. Wear a hat, be in a good mood and let me know how gigantic the Atleantan figures are in your opinion!
© 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Ahorita YA. All rights reserved. Photos © 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Ahorita YA. All rights reserved.
2 thoughts on “A visit to Tula in Hidalgo”
Ah! my town! I must recognize the surroundings might be ugly, and perhaps stinky, because all the industry and pollution, but there are some hidden jewels.
Next time you’re there visit the “Plaza del Taco”, go to the market to eat some “chinicuiles” or “chapulines”, eat “barbacoa de hoyo”, drink some pulque and just chill at the gardens of the Cathedral while eating ice cream.
Fun fact: the hotel Catedral in downtwon Tula used to be the home of Jose Joaquin Fernandez de Lizardi, one of the biggest writers of Mexico. He wrote there “The mangy parrot”, the first novel of Latin America.
Other famous resident is Justo Sierra, founder of the UNAM, also known as “the teacher of the Americas”, who was a school teacher in Tula.
Thank you so much for all these facts! I will definitely visit the places you recommended when I travel there again. Saludos, Debbie