Throw Me a Travel Bone

Today I am launching (sounds pretty official, right?) a new Travelin’ Bones feature: The Travel Bone. I will regularly throw a Travel Bone to you here and on my Travelero twitter page.  The Travel Bone will be a cool (or not) travel stat, factoid, or brief destination profile regarding travel and world cultures.

Travel Bone #1: What is the largest pyramid in the world?

Nope, it’s not the one you might be thinking of.  The Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico is the largest.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt is taller, but the pyramid at Cholula is much larger at the base and in total volume.  I visited Cholula in the state of Puebla during my 2-month journey through Mexico in 2006.   Mexico.Pue.Cholula.Pyramid.03The pyramid, which was started around the 2nd century BCE and not finished until the 15th century, is 1,476 feet long on each side of the base and approximately 217 feet high.

The pyramid was dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl and is now covered with grass and trees.  A giant yellow Catholic Cathedral called Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sits somewhat incongruously at the top.

Because of this, it doesn’t strike the visitor quite the way the Egyptian 569818-Pyramid-West-1pyramids do, but it is quiet impressive nonetheless. And because of my rare condition–I call it claustrophilia (I love dark, narrow confines)–I enjoyed exploring some of the 5 miles of narrow tunnel pathways beneath it.

Yes, I admit it: I love cavernous spaces in the hollow of the earth. I revel in that sensation of the silent heavy weight of the earth surrounding me, the slightly damp stone walls, the ancient musty smell!  For a few minutes I had complete silence, an escape from the ongoing raucous cacophony that typifies Mexican cities.  I took a moment to  relish being in the bowels of one the greatest architectural achievements of the Americas–indeed, of the world.

569791-Pyramid-Tunnel-0

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~ by Ryan Van Lenning on June 30, 2009.

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