Published On: Tue, Feb 14th, 2017

Tula, a Mesoamerican ceremonial precinct featuring impressive architecture

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Tula, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, is located just 197 kilometers (119 miles), southeast of San Miguel de Allende.

One peculiar thing that San Miguel and Tula have in common is their name, not many Mexicans (or foreigners) are aware that Tula’s official name is in fact, “Tula de Allende”.

This city is home to the “Atlantes de Tula“, Atlantean figures that stand majestically as columns in the shape of fierce warriors carved in stone. In Mesoamerica these fifteen feet tall giants are considered to be “massive statues of Toltec warriors”. (Atlantean here refers to the figures’ supporting posture, alluding to the Greek mythology load-bearing Titan “Atlas”).

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Gigantes de Tula (Photo: Google)

Centuries ago, long before Mexico had the borders we know today (and long before anybody would even think of building walls along those borders), the Aztecs ruled the vast territory known today as the Mexican Republic.

But years before that, the Toltecs had the upper hand. Historians and archaeologists have plenty to say on the Toltecs, but there’s little agreement.

Theories describe them as the forerunners of the Aztecs, as a rival force and even as an embellished remembrance of “the good old days.” Most records stem from Aztec conversations documented by the Spanish conquistadors and from ancient Mesoamerican art that featured hieroglyphics depicting snakes, eagles, skulls and jaguars.

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Gigantes de Tula (Photo: Google)

Tula is generally accepted as the legendary capital ‘Tollan’ of the Toltec empire, founded around 750 AD, at the same time as the Teotihuacan empire was in decline.

During the height of Tula’s power, between AD 900 and 1100, it included an area of some five square miles, with an occupation estimated as high as 60,000.

Gigantes de Tula (Photo: insidethetravellab.com)

Gigantes de Tula (Photo: insidethetravellab.com)

There’s something imposing about these giant stone columns, high in the heart of the former Toltec civilization.

These warriors remind us of one Toltec legend in particular, the curse of their former leader Quetzalcóatl.

Apparently as he lay dying in the hands of the Aztecs, Quetzalcóatl threatened to return and destroy them, disguised as a “white skin-bearded man” and approaching from the East. Given how things turned out on the early XVI century, that was quite prophetic.

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How to get there

Leaving out of SMA, you need to head for Queretaro, then take the Carretera  Querétaro – México, pass by San Juan del Río, approximatelly 50 kilometers before entering Mexico City’s “metropolitan zone”, you take a left following the signage to “Tula” and head East for another 20 or 25 kms.

map SMA_Tula

 

SMT Newsroom with information from:

 

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