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Tula (TOO-lah), or officially Tula de Allende, was founded by Franciscans in the early 16th century; their fortress-like church, which also dates from that time, still stands. Typical of smaller Mexican towns, it has a non-touristy look and a quiet central plaza bordered with taco stands. Archeologists long believed that the remains of the Toltec capital of Tollan, which means “metropolis” or “large city,” were somewhere in this region; however, the exact whereabouts remained a mystery until the Tula ruins were determined to be the site in 1938.
Tula's dominance as a major city in pre-Hispanic Mexico was relatively brief—from about A.D. 950 to 1174, when the Chichimecs, forerunners of the Aztecs, attacked, sacked and burned it. The sculptural figure known as Chac Mool, first found at this site, has become an international artistic symbol of Mesoamerican culture. But the reclining figure—holding a vessel that presumably received still-beating hearts torn from victims' chests during sacrificial ceremonies—underscores the violent nature of Toltec culture.

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Tula Ruins
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Current Location: Tula, Hidalgo, Hidalgo