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Cholula (Cholula de Rívadabia), city in the state of Puebla, Mexico. A city of 82,964 inhabitants (2005 census) situated at an altitude of 7,095 feet, Cholula is 72 miles southeast of Mexico City and 8 miles west of the state capital, Puebla. Founded on 27 October 1537, Cholula is primarily an agricultural and commercial center, a tourist site, and increasingly a bedroom community of the nearby state capital; however, it is best known for its pre-Columbian history, its role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and its many colonial-era churches.

Cholula ("place from which one jumps or flees" in Nahuatl) was one of the principal centers of pre-Columbian civilization. Its origins are obscure, but probably it was occupied by migrating Nahuatl-Olmec peoples. In the seventh century, Toltecs conquered the area, turned Cholula into an important religious site, and built what would become the largest pyramid in the Americas. It was here that the high priest Quetzalcoatl stayed after fleeing from Tula and before the fall of the Toltec civilization in 1116. The Spanish conquerer Hernán Cortés stopped in Cholula on his march from Veracruz to Tenochtitlán (Mexico City) in October 1519. Fearing an ambush, Cortés ordered a preemptive attack that resulted in the deaths of perhaps as many as ten thousand Indians.

See alsoPuebla (State) .


Luz María Josefina Walles Morales, Cholula (1971).

Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, Cholula: La Ciudad sagrada en la era industrial (1973).

Michael C. Meyer and William L. Sherman, The Course of Mexican History, 4th ed. (1991), esp. pp. 24, 36, 39, 108-110.

Additional Bibliography

Ashwell, Anamaría. Creo para poder entender: La vida religiosa en los barrios de Cholula. Puebla: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla: Gobierno del Estado de Puebla, 2002.

Binford, Leigh, ed. La economía política de la migración internacional en Puebla y Veracruz: Siete estudios de caso. Puebla: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 2004.

Castillo Palma, Norma Angélica. Cholula, sociedad mestiza en ciudad india: Un análisis de las consecuencias demográficas, económicas y sociales del mestizaje en una ciudad novohispana (1649–1796). México, D.F.: Plaza y Valdés Editores: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa, División de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, 2001.

                                        David LaFrance