Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/210

This page has been validated.
204
CHOLULA.

It stands to the east of the present city, upon a base of one thousand four hundred and twenty-five feet square; and originally consisted of four stages, terminating in a platform, one hundred and seventy-seven feet above the plain.

It is now very difficult to trace the several proportions among the slopes and brushwood, and the heaps of crumbling brickwork with which its acclivity is covered.

As soon as the sun was up we passed through the outskirts of the city, and round the foot of several elevated mounds, evidently artificial in their origin, towards the base of the teocalli. A little in advance are two enormous masses of earth, displaying in their perpendicular sides the regular courses of unburnt brick and clay, of which they, as well as the principal pyramid, are wholly constructed. A sloping road of modern formation leads over the three lower divisions of the great pyramid to the level of the third terrace, when you are conducted by a flight of stone steps to the principal platform, upon which the church with two towers and a dome has replaced the ancient erection raised here by the Aztecs or their predecessors, to the worship of their principal divinity, Quetzalcoatl.

The area of the platform, according to a former traveller, measures three thousand four hundred square yards. Its sides are well faced with stone, and thus preserved; yet the waste of the soil has been so considerable on the eastern side, that the building is there wholly supported upon arches.

Two large evergreen cypresses and a massive cross stand before the principal entrance of the church. Many groups of trees, principally "schinus," are scattered over the surface of the pyramid, and the view from the platform, though not to be compared with those in the vicinity of the capital for beauty, is of vast extent and great interest, and includes the three great Nevadas of Mexico—Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, and Orizava, with their advanced chains.


How far the vulgar tradition that the great pyramid of Cholula is hollow may be borne out by the fact, it is