The state of Tlaxcala is located at the north-east
of Mexico City. Its capital, named
Tlaxcala as well, had 81, 000 inhabitants in 2007. The state is
bordered by the states of Hidalgo,
Puebla and Mexico;
it countains about one million of inhabitants. It is comprised of
Capital of the smallest State in Mexico, the city
has nothing of note except that it is the location of the famous
Republic of Tlaxcalan, never conquered by the Aztecs, and where
found allied (the tlaxcaltecs) against Moctezuma. Tourists can however
enjoy the huge sarapes market (poncho) on saturdays and sundays.
Tlaxcala possesses the first permanent church of New
Spain. You really should visit the Franciscan monastery, built
from the stones of a pyramid dedicated to Tlaloc, god of rain. The
church is named ex-convento de la Asunción. The cloister
hosts the Regional Museum of Tlaxcala (open 10AM-5PM, Tue-Sun,
$41) which displays a nice pre-Hispanic collection. The
church of the convent has a beautiful ceiling from the seventeenth
The history of the Conquest is told by frescos painted on the walls
of the Palacio de Gobierno, standing on the Plaza of the Constitution.
The parish of San José (parroquia de San José), at
the north-west side of the place, is adorned with bricks and blue
talavera ceramic. It is really beautiful. Also walk over the Museo
de Artes y Tradiciones Populares (open 10AM-6PM Tue-Sun), where
you will find explanations from the artisans about sculpture of
masks, weaving and pulque-making.
Another good reason to come to the State of Tlaxcala is to stay
in one of the haciendas of the State and renew with the colonial
past. Patios surrounded by archways, fountains, paved alleys, luxuriant
gardens and pious chapels contribute to the charm of these haciendas.
For sure, the rooms are in the most pure colonial style with high
ceilings, wrought iron or wooden beds and furniture and bathrooms
with mosaic. Depending on your choice, a hacienda will offer you
a swimming pool, an exercise room and a restaurant or even horse
riding and pulque tasting.
One kilometer north of Tlaxcala, standing on a hill, is a spectacular
sanctuary of the Virgin. The Basilica de la Vírgen de Ocotlán
is a Churrigueresque church in the village of Ocotlán. This
village also has a beautiful baroque basilica dating from the eighteenth
century. It is worth the detour.
Extract from the UNESCO site : Tlaxcala, its regional museum, ex-convent
and its cathedral are inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List since
December 2004 (The tentative list is an inventory of those properties
which each State Party intends to consider for nomination during
the following years)
Tranvía available on fridays, saturdays and sundays
in the capital. Information with the Secretary of tourism,
(246) 465 0900 ext.1519 or
01 800 509 6557.
Map of the city :
surroundings of TLAXCALA
Twenty km (12 miles) west from Tlaxcala, the site of Cacaxtla
(open daily 8 AM-5:30 PM, $49) houses the ruins
of a two thousand year old city. This site is on the top of a hill
with the snowcap summits of three volcanoes on the background. The
ruins were discovered only thirty years ago. The site, very deteriorated
by the time, is under restoration. They have identified nice murals
painted by the mysterious Olmecs-Xicalancas, descendant from the
Olmecs of the Gulf Coast.
You can notice Maya, Teotihuacán,
Zapotec, Mixtec and Náhuatl influences. (Teotihuacán
influence is seen in the symbols). The apogee of this site was between
650 and 850 AD after the decline of Teotihuacán.
These mysterious Olmecs-Xicalancas, whose origin is not certain,
are an enigma and a proof of an intense cultural exchange at the
You will be able to reach the Plaza Norte by going through
the Gran Basamento, a vast religious seven level platform
of 200 m by 100 m (656ft X 328ft). Skeletons of sacrificed children
were found here. Look at the murals, especially in the Templo
de Venus and the Templo Rojo. The Battle Mural (25m2
or 270 sq ft), the biggest of the murals, shows Olmecs-Xicalancas
warriors with Maya personages, dressed with feather capes. It is
not a fight but a real ritual sacrifice. A strange fact is the juxtaposition
of Mayas personages and Náhuatl áglyphs, two artistic
currents coming from two distant and distinct zones. This combination
gives a pictorial creation rich in symbols telling us mythic and
epic stories. The painted scenes are striking by their naturalism
and the excellent conservation of the colors.
They first discovered the building A, with less deteriorated frescos.
On two big panels, the full size Eagle-man and the Jaguar-man are
doing rituals of sacrifice and fecundity. From the top, the view
of the valley is gorgeous. Close to the entrance, a small museum
(Museo de Sitio), displays artifacts found during the excavation
(open 9 AM-5 PM). Look especially at the collection of ceramic divinities.
From the panoramic restaurant, you can also see the Popocatépetl,
weather permitting. Looking down from the temple of Venus, on the
other side of the ravine, you could catch sight of the pyramid
of Xochitécatl. It is 1.5km driving from Cacaxtla
and the entrance ticket is good for both sites, Cacaxtla and Xochitécatl.
Visit the pyramid of the flowers (piramide de las flores),
the pyramid of the snake, the edifice of the volcanoes and the pyramid
of the espiral. Weather permitting, you can see the three volcanoes
from the top of the pyramid of the flowers, which culminates 30m
above the site. There is also a small museum with numerous clay
woman-like figurines, proofs of the importance of the cults to fecundity-fertility
practiced on this site.
Eastbound, the small city of Huamantla ("pueblo
mágico") is the setting, at the time of the Assumption,
of a big celebration called Huamantlada, whose big event is a “running
the bulls” in the streets of the city.
Map of archaeological site :
The history of the state and its capital :
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