Up North from Mexico
is the State of HIDALGO
Two centers of interest : Tula
The archaeological site of Tula (from 900 to 1200 A.D.) is located
95 km (60 miles from Mexico City
and 50 km (30 miles) north of Tepotzotlán, after passing
the modern city of Tula where stands the convent built by the Franciscans
in 1529 with the materials of the old Tula.
You access this site by bus from Terminal
(every 30 min).
Chichimecs built their capital in Tula, the old Tollan, governed
for a short time by Acatl Topiltzin. High Priest of Quetzalcóatl,
this divinity, already venerated at the previous periods, was the
symbol of the old culture of the highlands, science, calendar, agriculture
and all the knowledge useful to the well being of the society. But
he was seduced by Tezcatlipoca, a god of war, which led him to debauchery
and impiety. Evicted by part of his people, he has to run away leaving
his throne to kings that were fighting in order to find victims
for their sacrifices (The “war flowered”).
Quetzalcóatl reached the country of Dawn (East and Gulf Coast),
where, according to one legend, he sacrificed himself at the stake
to become the Morning Star (Venus), and according to another legend,
he embarked in celestial waters promising to come back to his throne.
The myth of the comeback of Quetzalcóatl had a big influence
on the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. When Hernán
Cortés disembarked exactly the planned day, he was welcomed
as Quetzalcóatl, which made easier the beginning of the Spanish
conquest. The legend and history are interconnected. The Toltecs
were not a homogeneous cultural group but brought together two traditions
: the old tradition, theocratic, maybe from Teotihuacán,
and the new one that muscled, the one of the Chichimec warriors.
However, the Toltecs were, for the Aztecs, the symbol of the civilization,
arts and science, architecture and sculpture, meaning everything
that the god Quetzalcóatl taught them. The souvenir of Teotihuacán
was preserved by the Toltecs.
The big temple of Tula
The most important group is formed by the pyramid on which there
was the temple of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Morning Star, of which
remain only the “Atlantes", shaped as celestial warriors
supporting the beans of the roof of the temple, and some cylinder
shaped columns in the form of snakes. The pyramid was preceded by
a vast bent portico, supported by square adorned pillars.
By the stairs going to the temple, there is a sculpture of Chac
Mool and not far, the Coatepantli or Wall of the snakes, with snail
shaped crenels and a fresco showing snakes eating human skeletons.
You can see also the Burnt Palace (palacio Quemado), the templo Mayor and the ball
Explanation of the Morning Star
Quetzalcóatl, after his sacrifice, became
Venus. This planet was visible during the morning for 236 days when
it preceded the sunrise then stayed invisible for 90 days. The following
250 days, it was visible by night and vanished again for the next
8 days. Its cycle lasted 584 days; 8 solar years of 365 days, that
is to say 29 200 days were the equivalent of 5 Venus years and two
"centuries" of 52 solar years were the equivalent
of 65 Venus years. Under its morning form, Venus was called Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli,
"the God of dawn”; it has the shape of a personage who
dives, head first and feet towards the sky. The name of the last
Aztec emperor, Cuauhtemoc, means "falling Eagle ", that
is to say "the sun that was born". Under its evening form,
Venus became Xolotl, "the god that died and sinks in the Occident",
the bearded god of oldness.
The cult of Quetzalcóatl-Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was a cult
to rebirth and renewal, to the eternal life. This eternal life,
like Venus, was born at the orient, bringing good and useful things.
How confused they must have been with the Europeans arriving from
the East ! And they were white, blonde like the fire and bearded
Map of the site/town of Tula :
Open tue-sun, 10AM-06PM, $46, free for
national public on sunday.
The history of the state and its capital :
Tepotzotlán is a charming city of 23 000
mágico") located 45km, 30 miles north of the capital.
It is 2km from the toll road 57 going to Querétaro.
Don’t miss Plaza Hidalgo, the main plaza.
The most important building is the huge baroque church, Iglesia
de San Francisco Javier, built in 1682. It is one of the three most
beautiful examples of Churrigueresque architecture in Mexico,
the other two being Santa Prisca in Taxco
and La Valenciana in Guanajuato
state. The church majestically overlooks the small city. Its harmonious
proportions and the warm patina of its stone emphasize the four
adorned columns and the statues of saints flanked on each side of
the gate. It has a unique tower. Every piece of surface is covered
with golden flourish: masses of cherubs welcome the visitors.
On the walls of the church, 22 paintings of Cristóbal de
Villapando show the different stages of the life of St Ignace de
Loyola, father of the Jesuits.
Beside the church, the Museo del Virreinato (Museum of
the Vice-roi, open 9 AM-6 PM, Tue-Sun, $50),
was the novitiate of the Jesuits in 1585. They studied the languages,
art, theology and mathematics. The treasures gathered by the Catholic
Church during the colonial time are displayed in the rooms of the
museum which is under the control of the National Institute of Anthropology
and History. The collections comprise numerous beautiful paintings
and sculptures. Among the most unusual objects, there are relics.
One of them, made in Italy, is mounted in a silver chalice with
incrusted coral. The museum is also famous for owning a bone of
In the center of the museum, the Room of the Virgin, dating from
the early eighteenth century shows an altar under a cupola crowned
with a frieze. Mirrors allow enjoying the decorated ceiling : there
are the moon, the sun and the stars and numerous frolicking cherubs.
In the middle of the room, the Virgin Mary, in the lantern, is surrounded
by the apostles with the Holy Spirit going down them. Don’t
miss the Camarin, octagonal room dedicated to the cares of the statue
of the Virgin.
The Jesuits which were in charge of the church and novitiate were
evicted from Spain and its colonies in 1767 because of their support
to the philosophy for Lights.
Núñez de Haro, professor at the University of Avila
(Spain) was nominated archbishop of Mexico in 1771
and converted the College of Tepotzotlán into the Seminario
de Instrucción, Retiro Voluntario y Corrección, a
kind of jail for ecclesiastics. He continues the work on the Chapel
de Pocito in Guadalupe and the Cathedral
of Mexico City. When the rights of the Company of Jesuits were
reestablished in the early twentieth century, the Jesuits took back
their possessions. The government nationalized the novitiate in
1964 and converted it into a museum.
Bus company : Ómnibus
(55) 53 68 74 02 or 08 - many departures from 7 AM to 11 PM - www.odm.com.mx.
its Terminal de Autobuses de Tepotzotlán : Address : Km.
42.5, Parque Industrial los Cedros,
(55) 58 76 10 91 or 01 800 8000 ETN (386). It service many destinations
to the north and west from Tepotzotlán.
The village of Tepotzotlán celebrates the
Day of the Dead on November 1st
and 2nd like everywhere else in Mexico. It is a
joyful celebration. The Mexicans celebrate death. Many offerings
are given to the dead. The party is in full swing.
par: Noé Saint-Just
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