Tlaxcala is Mexico's smallest state, but its location on a high plain east of Mexico has made it one of the most important historic sites in Mexico, a staging point for Spanish conquistadors as they approached the ancient Aztec capital. It also is one of the country's most dramatic locations, thanks to the snow-capped volcanoes that rise around its capital, also called Tlaxcala.
When the conquistador Hernan Cortes arrived in the area in 1519, he made a pact with the Tlaxcalans to help him fight their mortal enemies, the Aztecs, in nearby Tenochtitlan, modern day Mexico City.
La Malinche was the name given to Cortes' Aztec mistress and also is the name of dormant volcano that rises to 14,636 feet, just 15 miles southeast of the city of Tlaxcala. To the west of the city are Mounts Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl.
La Malinche National Park
La Malinche sits at the heart of a popular weekend retreat for citizens of Mexico City, just an hour's drive to the west. The park is a favorite among hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers and campers.
Festival of Flowers
The residents of the Tlaxcalan town of Huamantla decorate their streets with paintings made from flower blossoms and seeds in mid-August to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption.
They are among the most well-preserved murals from classic pre-Columbian times. The murals at Cacaxtla are thought to show Mayan influence -- evidence that Tlaxcala was an important stop on the trade route between the Maya in the Yucatan and the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan.
Tlaxcala is just 66 miles east of the Mexico City international airport and 20 miles west of Puebla, but its small towns and villages are a far cry from the large urban centers within an hour's drive.
Article Written By Robin Thornley
Robin Thornley has been a successful writer for more than 25 years, penning articles for national magazines, newspapers and websites. She specializes in a variety of topics, including business, politics, lifestyle trends, travel and cuisine. She also is the author of two guidebooks.