1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cholula

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CHOLULA, an ancient town of Mexico, in the state and on the plateau of Puebla, 8 m. by rail W. by N. of the city of that name, and 6912 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1900, estimate) 9000. The Interoceanic railway passes through Cholula, but the city’s commercial and industrial standing is overshadowed by that of its larger and more modern neighbour. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, Cholula—then known as Chololan—was a large and important town, consecrated to the worship of the god Quetzalcoatl, who had here one of the most imposing temples in Anahuac, built on the summit of a truncated pyramid, the largest of its kind in the world. This pyramid, constructed of sun-dried bricks and earth, 177 ft. high, and covering an area of nearly 45 acres, is the most conspicuous object in the town and is surmounted by a chapel dedicated to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. A corner of the lower terrace of this great pyramid was cut through in the construction of the Puebla road, but nothing was discovered to explain its purpose, which was probably that of furnishing an imposing site for a temple. Nothing definite is known of its age and history, as the fanatical zeal of Cortez and his companions destroyed whatever historical data the temple may have contained. Cholula was visited by Cortez in 1519 during his eventful march inland to Montezuma’s capital, Tenochtitlan, when he treacherously massacred its inhabitants and pillaged the city, pretending to distrust the hospitable inhabitants. Cortez estimated that the town then had 20,000 habitations, and its suburbs as many more, but this was undoubtedly a deliberate exaggeration. The Cholulans were of Nahuatl origin and were semi-independent, yielding only a nominal allegiance to Montezuma. They were a trading people, holding fairs, and exchanging their manufactures of textiles and pottery for other produce. The pyramid is believed to have been built by a people occupying this region before the Cholulans.