Allied to Cortés in his struggle against the Aztecs, as well as with colonial Spain in the War of Independence, TLAXCALA, the capital of a tiny state of the same name, has become a byword for treachery. Because of its alliance with Cortés, the town suffered a very different fate from that of nearby Cholula, which aligned itself with the Aztecs, and in the long run this has led to the disappearance of its ancient culture. The Spaniards founded a colonial town here – now restored and very beautiful in much of its original colonial glory, but whether because of its traitorous reputation or simply its isolation, development in Tlaxcala has been limited.

The town lies 131km west of Mexico City and 30km north of Puebla in the middle of a fertile, prosperous-looking upland plain surrounded by rather bare mountains. It’s an exceptionally pretty and much rehabilitated colonial town, comfortable enough but also fairly dull. Most of the interest lies very close to the zócalo, with its cluster of banks, post office and central bandstand, where the terracotta and ochre tones of the buildings lend the city its tag of “Ciudad Roja”, the Red City.

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