Tula is an important archaeological site located a couple hours due north of Mexico City in the state of Hidalgo. Tula was the capital of the Toltec empire, which was characterized by long range trading and the beginning of pan-Mesoamerican religious ideas expressed in architecture. The Toltec influence is most evident at Chichen Itza far away on the tip of the Yucatan Penninsula. The two sites mirror each other in terms of the layout of temples and ballcourts as well as common symbolic themes. In addition to the influence the Toltecs exerted over their contemporaries, they were believed to be the mythical predecessors of the great Aztec Kingdom, with Tula serving as the ancient homeland referred to as Tollan. The archaeological site is more important in terms of its history than it is impressive in terms of the physical remains seen today. However, the site does have two great ball courts, some gruesome skeletal relief panels and the famed warrior statues that crown the central pyramid structure. Bus routes from every direction in Mexico converge on Tula, so it's a great overnight stop when traveling in Mexico. For those with a casual or intensive interest in pre-Columbian Mexico should include Tula in their plans.
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