A Gringo’s Guide to the Great Pyramid of Cholula
The world's largest pyramid is right here in Mexico? Bro, get outta here! My buddy was regaling me with his tall tales, again. This time the topic was the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
The dude was a habitual chain yanker, and I mean that in the most straight-laced way, wey.
I didn't believe him for one second until I hopped online and started researching the Cholula Pyramid.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be true. The biggest pyramid in the world was in Mexico, just a few short hours south of Mexico City.
And it just so happened I was in Mexico City and drunk off pyramid vibes. There's just something about the ancient ruins that offers a unique energy.
After seeing Teotihuacan, these ancient ruins had us hooked. We were more than intrigued.
And there was no way we were passing up an opportunity to see the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
So, we blocked off an entire Monday to head down to Cholula from CDMX and see the massive pyramid.
Four grown ass men jumped into one tiny Uber and sped down the highway for a few hours.
Shoulders were checked and legs spread out to ensure dominance was known. The whole ride was one giant “mansplaining” cluster.
But we eventually made it down to Puebla and eventually, the Cholula Pyramid. Luckily, the whole ordeal was worth it.
While the Great Pyramid of Cholula isn't as photogenic as Teotihuacan, it's more than worth it. We had a damned good time in Cholula and got to learn a bit about the unique history of this ruin.
What is the Great Pyramid of Cholula?
Enough about my day at the ancient ruins, let's dive into the unique history of this place and see exactly how this massive monument was made.
I won't get into too much detail, as this short blog post about how cool the Cholula Pyramid is would become a history book.
What I will do is break down the size of this pyramid and compare it with other famous ruins, like the Great Pyramid of Giza and Chitzen Itza.
First, you can't really see the Cholula Pyramid. There's a small section of the actual pyramid that's been excavated and resurfaced.
That section looks like this:
But that little area is just a small subsection of the entire Pyramid of Cholula. The thing is massive and filled with a plethora of nooks, crannies, and tunnels, too.
For comparison's sake, let's take a look at just how big the Great Pyramid of Cholula is compared to other famous ruins.
The Cholula Pyramid is the biggest pyramid in the world weighing in at (Source):
- Width/Lenght: 1,480 x 1,480 feet
- Height: 217 feet
- Total Volume: 157 million cubic feet
Due to the total volume of this structure, it's technically the largest pyramid in the world, although some still debate the accuracy of such assertions.
To compare, the Great Pyramid of Giza weighs in at (Source):
- Width/Length: 755.75 x 755.75 feet
- Height: 481 feet
- Total: Volume: 88.2 million cubic feet
Now, the Great Pyramid of Giza is clearly taller and certainly looks better in photos because it's not covered by a mountain. However, the Cholula Pyramid is still technically larger in total volume.
But, what about the other ancient ruins in Mexico? Both Teotihuacan and Chitzen Itza get way more love than the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
Well, of course! Both of those ruins are damn near fully intact and make for great Instagram photos.
The nearly covered pyramid in Cholula is barely visible, and therefore, doesn't get much love for tourists. Well, in comparison.
Size-wise, it still smokes the others. For example, Chitzen Itza, aka Kukulcan is tiny compared to the Cholula Pyramid (Source):
- Width/Lenght: 180 x 180 feet
- Height: 98 feet
- Total Volume: 1.06 million cubic feet
As you can see, there's a significant difference in the size of Chitzen Itza compared to the Great Pyramid of Cholula and of the Giza Pyramid.
That being said – Chitzen Itza makes for a pretty great day trip and photo opportunity.
How to Get to the Cholula Pyramid
It's not hard to get to the pyramid in Cholula, but it takes a little more effort than heading to Teotihuacan.
If you're in Mexico City, then you're a little over two hours from the pyramid in Cholula.
While the drive is a bit far, it's a pretty easy trip. The roads are smooth and you won't encounter a ton of traffic once you get outside of the city.
We just hopped an Uber and headed down. Uber is fantastic in Mexico and almost covers the whole country. The app let us enter the pyramid as our destination and the driver had no issue heading down south.
The fare cost around $1,200 Mexican Pesos one-way, or around $65 USD. That was pretty cheap split between four guys.
We negotiated for the driver to wait a few hours and we would pay him the same fare back to CDMX as we paid on the way there.
We agreed to head back to Mexico City in the late afternoon, giving us enough time to troll around the Cholula Pyramid and then grab some food in the downtown area.
Overall, the ride down to Cholula cost around $33 USD roundtrip, per person. In my opinion, that's not too bad.
There are other ways to get to Cholula.
You could drive down if you have a car, although I certainly wouldn't recommend renting one just for the trip.
You could also take the bus to Puebla or Cholula before heading to the pyramid.
We thought about taking the bus but ultimately decided against it. It just wasn't that much cheaper than taking an Uber when you have a group of four.
The bus ticket cost about $8-10 USD each way – depending on the time of day you go from CDMX to Puebla, the large city next to the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
Then you have Uber/Taxi rides from your place in Mexico City to the bus station, from the bus station in Puebla to the pyramid – and vice versa.
That's four Uber/taxi rides and two bus tickets.
Overall, we found it almost cheaper to take the Uber instead of piece together the trip with bus tickets and tons of taxi rides.
If you're alone or in a smaller group, it may be more economical to take the bus down.
Is It Worth the Effort?
Honestly, I'm a bit torn on this one.
If you only have one week in Mexico City, I wouldn't recommend heading down to the Cholula Pyramid.
There's so much to see and do in CDMX that you'd almost be wasting a day. If you get bored in D.F., then it's your fault. That city is chalked full of great things to do.
Plus, Teotihuacan is closer to CDMX and definitely looks cooler than the Great Pyramid of Cholula. In a word, Teotihuacan is epic.
That being said…
We had a damn good time at the pyramid in Cholula. And we almost had the place to ourselves.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula doesn't get tons of tourists, although there were a few. So, it's a more personal experience:
- You can climb to the church and see dope views of Cholula and Puebla.
- You can hike up the excavated ruins and begin to imagine how massive this pyramid is.
- There's a tunnel through the middle of the pyramid that's good fun to walk through.
- You'll find unique ruins and history lessons around every corner. I found the stories of how the pyramid got covered especially interesting.
Overall, the Great Pyramid of Cholula is an interesting experience and I'm glad I went. But it's not one of the first things I'd recommend doing while in Mexico City.
Go to Teotihuacan. Party in Polanco or Roma Norte. Check out the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Eat amazing Mexican food until you feel like a complete fat ass. Visit El Angel de La Independencia.
Then check out the Cholula Pyramid.
If you're in the city for a month or two, the pyramid of Cholula is a great day trip. If not, feel free to give it a miss.
A Gringo's Guide to the Great Pyramid of Cholula
That's all she wrote, wey. Well, he. Me. Everything you'd ever need to know about the pyramid in Cholula, the world's largest pyramid by total volume.
A true, in-depth gringo's guide to the Great Pyramid of Cholula. What it's like, how to get there, and if you should go.
If you've got any questions, comments, or concerns about this easy day trip from CDMX, feel free to sound off in the comments below and this gringo will do his best to answer back.