Days out in Querétaro - The Pyramid in the middle of the city

Where can you find a pyramid in the middle of the city?  

Right here, in Querétaro – probably the city’s best-kept secret.

Looming over the streets of El Pueblito, as the inhabitants go about their daily business, is the pyramid of "El Cerrito", which means "the little hill".  I imagine that's what it looked like when it was still overgrown with vegetation.  It is also popularly known as "El Pirámide de El Pueblito", after the neighbourhood on the southern side of the city where it is located.

It is the most important archeological site in the state of Querétaro and has a history going back well over a thousand years.

Days Out In Querétaro - The Pyramid Of El Pueblito


When we first arrived in Querétaro five years ago they had only just started to clean the pyramid and it was mostly covered in shrubs and other plants.  It wasn't open to visitors at that time. Now there is only one side left to clean, there is a small museum at the site and a trail up to the base of the pyramid.  That's as far as you can go at the moment, you can't climb up the actual pyramid.

We went with some friends who were staying with us over Easter weekend, our first visit - it only took us five years!  It is an amazing place to have right on our doorstep!


History of the Pyramid


It has a long history, starting from its founding around 700 AD or perhaps earlier. It was an important political and religious centre for the Toltec people with its apogee from around 900 to 1200 AD, but after the Toltecs abandoned it, the pyramid continued to be used as a sacred ceremonial site by the prehispanic peoples of the region up until the early 17th century.

Days Out In Querétaro - The Pyramid Of El Pueblito - Image Shows Museum Entrance With Pyramid In The Background

The Museum


Entry is free and the museum tells you a little about the history of the pyramid with some of the objects found at the site, mostly ceramics, on display.  There is a display comparing the "El Cerrito" pyramid with more famous pyramids - I was surprised to discover that it is only one metre shorter than the pyramid of Chichen Itza.  They are almost the same height.  The museum also features some displays and illustrations explaining a bit about the mythology and beliefs of the Toltec people.




The Walk up to the Pyramid


After going through the museum you follow the trail up the hill to the foot of the pyramid.  It is an uphill walk along a paved but slightly uneven path that will take you around ten to fifteen minutes walking at a normal pace.  On either side there are typical plants of the local area and some are labelled with little signs. The view from the hill over the surrounding area is pretty amazing, too.

It is a good idea to wear trainers or comfortable flat shoes for the walk up and a sunhat would be a good idea, too, although I didn't have one.  Sunblock is essential pretty much all year round in Querétaro as the sun's rays are quite merciless.

The way down was via a different route - a steep and rocky dirt path. I was also carrying Alexander in the baby carrier - the only way to go up with a baby as strollers, pushchairs, etc would be very awkward to use, if not impossible.

Days Out In Querétaro - The Pyramid Of El Pueblito


The Pyramid


Near the base of the pyramid you come to an open area and the pyramid stands before you.  You can't climb up it (yet, at least), but it is definitely an impressive sight.

The base of the Pyramid is a large square platform, each side measuring 115 metres.  There are three clear stages in the construction of the platform.  The first is from 700 AD when the site was founded, the second from the Toltec occupation of the site  between 900 and 1200 AD, and the last modification was made around 1300 AD by Chichimec groups.

The Pyramid has 13 “steps” up to its summit.

On the top is a construction called “El Fortín”, a neogothic house built in 1887.  Although it is relatively modern, it is considered a historic monument and its construction irreversibly altered the top part of the Pyramid as any prehispanic construction that may have existed there would have been destroyed.

Around the side of the base of the Pyramid are the remains of two courtyards, the Plaza de las Danzas and the Plaza de las Esculturas, a “palace” in which several small altars with offerings were found, and an altar of skulls.

Days Out In Querétaro - The Pyramid Of El Pueblito - Image Shows Pyramid


Essential Information


Cost:  It is free to enter the site of the Pyramid and the museum.  There is a car park which charges $20 pesos (less than £1 and just over a dollar).

Opening times:
Tuesday to Friday 9.00am – 2.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 9.00 – 4.30pm
Closed on Mondays


Location: It is located in El Pueblito, 7 km from the center of Queretaro.  Take the Carretera libre a Celaya, also known as Avenida Constituyentes, heading in the direction of Celaya.  You will pass Carl’s Jr. then Plaza Constituyentes on your left and the CBTIS on your right just before you get to the Tejeda bridge.  You need to take the turn off over the bridge to get into El Pueblito and drive straight along Paseo del Gran Cué.  You will see the Pyramid right ahead of you but you will need to turn left to get to the car park then walk back to the entrance to the Pyramid.

What to wear: If you visit, you should wear comfortable clothes and shoes for walking, and a hat and sunblock to protect from the sun.



It's definitely worth spending a couple of hours in the most important archeological site in the surrounding area and it is a unique experience visiting a pyramid in the middle of a city.  Who else can say they have a pyramid on their doorstep?

What about you?  Do you have any tourist attractions near where you live and have you visited them?

More ideas for Days Out in Querétaro and Mexico City:

Piccolo Mondo Xtremo, Querétaro


Mexico City Aquarium


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Shank You Very Much


“Reflections

13 Comments

  1. It would certainly be a unique experience to visit a pyramid in the middle of a city! I'd love to visit Mexico someday -- it's on my bucket list.

    #kcacols

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  2. Ooh that does look impressive and definitely worth a visit. flat shoes essential #KCACOLS

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    1. Yes, the path would be treacherous and somewhat ridiculous in heels!

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  3. What an amazing structure. So much history. Glad that it is now open to the public, as these were fascinating times! #KCACOLS

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  4. So much is still a mystery and they are still excavating the site.

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  5. This looks like a fun adventure to have. I was surprised to hear that it was only 13 steps up. It looks bigger than that. #KCACOLS Seeing parts of history is always a neat thing.

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  6. This looks beautiful and is definitely something i would be interesting in visiting in the future. Can't believe it was only 13 steps!

    - Nyxie

    #GlobalBlogging

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  7. This is very cool. I wonder if you'd ever get used to walking out your front door to this in the city. #KCACOLS

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  8. Looks great. I had a trip to Mexico cancelled several years ago and I'm still bummed about it. Its definitely something I plan to re-schedule #KCACOLS

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  9. Wow, how cool to have a pyramid in the city! Looks and sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time. :)

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  10. isn't it amazing how it can take us so long to visit what is right near us! What a sight to see, living in Australia we don't really have anything with such great history other than of course our natural wonders like Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef, but human made things are very new here so I find it fascinating to think things like this exist! Thank you so much for sharing this and all the info, #ABloggingGoodTime

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  11. How lovely to have a local pyramid! We live in East Sussex, near the Kent boarder, and have quite a few historical places nearby. The closest to us is Camber Castle (from Henry VIII's days, so not as old as your pyramid), but it's more of a ruin than some of the other places that are fairly local, like Dover Castle for example (where there's also a Roman lighthouse from c.1000 BC!). The 'ancient' towns of Rye and Winchelsea are also local to us, and Hastings and Battle with it's castle ruins and other remnants from around the time of 1066 is not far away either. We love visiting historical places, it's a nice feeling to wonder around and feel the 'wings of history' around you x #KCACOLS

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