Understand the lasting influence of the ancient Toltec civilization while visiting relics and museums at this city in southwestern Hidalgo.
Tula de Allende (often simply called Tula) is famous for being a historic center for the Toltec empire, which flourished throughout central Mexico from the 10th to 12th centuries. Learn about this centuries-old civilization while walking in the footsteps of its people at temple ruins. Tula de Allende also features architectural treasures bequeathed by the city’s former Spanish colonists, making it a worthwhile daytrip destination from Mexico City.
Visit Tula Archaeological Site, the one-time Toltec settlement located across the Tula River from the city center. Marvel at the 15-foot-tall (4.5-meter) Atlantean warrior statues that stand atop the Temple of the Morning Star. Look for the Chacmool, sculptures of reclining priests, positioned outside the Burnt Palace. Carvings of human-eating snakes adorn the Serpent Wall. Find a collection of excavated artifacts at the site museum, the Guadalupe Mastache Interpretation Room.
Cross the river via a footbridge and stroll down the pedestrian-only Calle Quetzalcóatl. It leads past brightly painted colonial-style houses to Constitution Square, a popular social gathering place. Catch a performance at the Open Air Theater and shop for handicrafts and Toltec models at Tula Handicraft Market. Displays of prehistoric and pre-Hispanic objects fill the Quetzalcóatl Historical Room.
A short walk from Constitution Square is Tula Cathedral, an austere 16th-century church built on the site of a monastery. It features a Gothic façade and Baroque interior. Admire a painting of Jesus feasting on traditional Mexican fare alongside his parents and grandparents. In the cloisters frescoes portray revered saints, such as St. Paul, St. Peter and St. Sebastian, in addition to Mary Magdalena.
Tula de Allende is a 2-hour drive north of Mexico City. Buses depart regularly from Mexico City’s Terminal del Norte. Rent a car and follow the trail of Mexico’s fascinating civilizations. The Teotihuacán Ruins and Xihuingo Archaeological Zone are both about 90 minutes away by car.