Puebla’s Cathedral is one of the city’s main cultural and architectural gems. // © Mexico Tourist Board
The city of Puebla recently raised its profile when it hosted the Tianguis Turistico 2013, which for many years was closely associated with Acapulco. Puebla set a new benchmark for Tianguis Turistico as the first colonial city to host the event. Puebla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a veritable treasure chest of architectural and colonial sites. The city has more than 2,600 downtown colonial buildings, elegant 18th century mansions converted into museums, austere convents and churches overflowing with sacred art, baroque ornamentation and Talavera tile work lining their facades.
Puebla is a great recommendation for clients looking for abundant culture, amazing shopping opportunities and the chance to sample regional cuisine. It’s a safe bet that clients who have enjoyed visiting Oaxaca and Merida will be similarly charmed by Puebla’s colonial atmosphere.
One of Puebla’s most impressive attractions is its Cathedral. Construction began in 1575 and was completed in 1690. The Cathedral showcases a variety of architectural styles, with an emphasis on the neoclassical. Its interior houses 14 side chapels as well as the main altar, which is known as the Altar of the Kings. All of the altars display sculptures and paintings depicting religious themes dating back to the 18th century.
History buffs will want to drop into the Palafox Library (Biblioteca Palafoxiana). The library was established by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who got things started by donating his 6,000 volume personal library. Other cultural points of interest in the city are the Museum of No-Intervention, Fort of Loreto (the fort was crucial for the defense against the French invasion of May 5, 1862); and the Amparo Museum, consisting of two colonial buildings with collections of Mexican art from pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern times.
Shoppers will want to visit the El Parian Craft Market. Here they will find the city’s signature crafts, including Talavera pottery, sculpture and utilitarian objects made of black clay; Tree of Life sculptures; amate bark paintings; and embroidered serapes and rebozos.
The city’s restaurants are famous for their mole dishes, especially turkey in mole poblano. Visitors on the go should try Puebla’s signature sandwich, called cemitas, which are typically bread filled with beans, nopal cactus and potato.
Puebla is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and mountains which provide plenty of options for outdoor activities. These could include a round of golf, paragliding against the backdrop of the San Andres mountain range or exploring several national parks, including National Park Izta-Popo and National Park La Malinche.
Daytrip options from Puebla include Cholula, the oldest living city in the Americas. Its main attraction is the pre-Hispanic Great Pyramid upon which the conquistadors built the Templo de la Virgen de los Remedios church. Cholula also has one of the first five Franciscan convents built in New Spain, the Convent of San Gabriel, as well as numerous churches to be explored throughout the town. Stand-outs are the churches of Santa Maria Tonantxintla and San Francisco Acatepec, famous for their baroque adornment and talavera facades.
The archaeological zones of Yohualichan (Cuetzlan) and Cantona are also an easy drive from Puebla. Yohualichan was an important ceremonial center of the Totonaca people, established in the 3rd and 4th centuries, reaching its height around 600 to 900 A.D. The archaeological zone of Cantona flourished in the 8th and 9th centuries and is notable for having been built without mortar.
Puebla is located 74 miles east of Mexico City. It’s bordered to the north by the states of Tlaxcala and Hidalgo, to the northwest by the State of Mexico, to the south by Guerrero, Morelos and Oaxaca and to the west by Veracruz.