We’ve all heard of the Aztec and the Mayan cultures, but who were the Toltec? After doing some checking, I learned that the Toltec culture dates from the 10th to the 12th centuries; these indigenous people migrated from northwestern the Mexican deserts to the Valley of Mexico and built their capital city, Tula (originally Tollán), which eventually reached a population of 40,000.
Tula has not been studied as completely as other well-known Mexican archeological sites, but we do know that the Toltec religion seems to have been centered around Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. The most prominent surviving monument at Tula is the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid. Although it is supposedly a 5-tiered pyramid, I couldn’t tell you for sure. I was holding too tightly to my guide’s hand as I headed for the top!
At the summit of the pyramid are four 16-foot warriors who once, I am told, held up a roof. Each warrior is made of four huge basalt segments and wears chest armor shaped like a butterfly and massive headgear. Each warrior also has a distinctive face (make sure to check this out) and holds a spear-thrower at his side.
While you’re up there, you might take a look at the surrounding countryside. The stunning panoramic view will disclose to you why the Toltec chose this site for their capital.