Puebla: Mexico’s Best Kept Secret

puebla

The vibrant city of Puebla is Mexico’s best kept secret, many tourists overlook it in favor of the more popular beach hot-spots like Cancun and Acapulco. But Puebla has character! Set in a valley surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes and mountains, this colorful city is the perfect urban destination with over 2,600 historic buildings, grand churches, amazing architecture and world-class cuisine. This authentic city is rich in Mexican culture and tradition with a distinct Spanish-inspired feel.

Puebla has many nicknames including, Angelópolis and City of Angels. According to legend, Puebla was founded by a Spanish bishop who dreamed that angels showed him the location and layout for a new city that was needed to secure the trade route between Veracruz and Mexico City. In 1531, his dream came true, with the creation of one of Mexico’s most important colonial city.

Tourist Attractions in Puebla Mexico

puebla mexico

Although Puebla is Mexico’s fifth largest city, it has an authentic small town feel, with friendly people and an easy to navigate Centro Historico district. The first stop in Puebla should be to the heart of the city; the Zócalo. This lovely tree-lined square is bordered on each side with must see attractions. On one side stands the Cathedral; a grand church with intricate details designed by the Spanish in 1575, it literally took over 300 years to complete this masterpiece. Due to the length of time it took to finish, the church exhibits many architectural influences but showcases mainly a late Baroque theme. Visit the Cathedral at night to view the spectacular lighting cast on the façade and the angels that line the perimeter.

Directly across from the Cathedral is the Palacio Municipal which houses a large visitor center. This is a great resource for tourists with helpful experts on staff to offer suggestions or just to pick up maps and booklets. After a walk around the Zócalo, relax and have a café or lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes that border the other two surrounding streets.

Churches and Cholula; Puebla

There are literally hundreds of churches in and around Puebla. History buffs can spend weeks travailing the grand churches of Puebla and learning about their history and architecture. Due to the thousands of historical monuments in Puebla it was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987. Visit the Capella del Rosario inside the church of Santo Domingo located on Cinco de Mayo street, to view a a stunning Baroque masterpiece. The interior of the Capella showcases intricately-carved gold details, six large paintings by the artist José Rodríguez Carnero, and a cast of cherubs that peer from the locally-produced Talavera tile.

Cholula

Don’t miss Cholula; an archaeological site located about 20 minutes outside of Puebla. Cholula is an ancient pyramid or actually seven ancient pyramids built on top of each other that was originally dedicated to the God of Rain; Chiconahui Quiáhuitl. Now it looks more like a massive hill with the Church of the Remedies-a beautiful yellow church built at the top. This amazing site has eight miles of tunnels underneath to explore but the real attraction is the trip to the top. The hike to the top pays off with a spectacular panoramic view of the area including the surrounding snow-capped volcanoes and mountains.

Shopping in Puebla

Visit the Calle de los Dulce or candy street, an entire street filled with shops selling freshly-made Camotes; a traditional candy typical of Puebla. Santa Clara Camotes are made from yams and have a sweet flavor with a creamy texture. During the month of October sugar and chocolate candies in the shapes of skulls line the shelves of the shops in honor of Dia de los Muertos; a Mexican holiday that honors the dead.

El Parian is a large square block designated to shops selling traditional Puebla crafts. Shoppers can find all their souvenirs in one place. There are many stalls selling colorful scarves, hand-made rugs, day of the dead boxes, puppets, masks, and munecas; traditional plaster-style dolls all in one place. The market is located on 2 Oriente and 6 Norte and open from 10:00am to 7:30pm daily.

Many Talavera shops surround the streets outside of El Parian. Puebla is famous for their Spanish -inspired Talavera; locally-produced ceramic tiles and pottery, typically in blue, white, and yellow colors. Only items made in Puebla can be officially labeled as Talavera as the materials and skill needed to produce the tiles can only be found in this region. Shoppers can easily spend days just shopping for Talavera tiles and pottery.

Directly across the street from el Parian is the Barrio del Artista; an entire square block filled with workshops, galleries and cafes. During the day visitors can watch the artists demonstrate their craft and buy paintings to remind them of their visit to Puebla. On weekends and evenings visit the square to hear a variety of music including jazz, blues or popular music.

Hotels in Puebla

Most hotels are located in the Centro Historico district as it is the most convenient base for exploring the city. Although there are a variety of hotels to choose from, two hotels stand out among the others. One outstanding hotel is the Hotel Puebla de Antaño at 3 Oriente No. 206, just steps away from the Zócalo. This beautifully restored 17th century mansion was once the site of the former Italian consulate. The friendly helpful staff coupled with comfortable luxurious rooms and the penthouse lounge make this a smart choice for visitors. For a gourmet dining experience visit the restaurant on site; Casa de los Espejos or House of Mirrors featuring an exhaustive wine list and traditional cuisine.

The Camino Real Puebla Centro located in the historic center, offers luxury accommodations at a reasonable price. This 5-star colonial-style hotel is decorated with art and furniture reminiscent of the 16th century. Conveniently located on premises is El Convento Restaurant as well as the Bar Novicias; a lively bar with live music on the weekends that showcases an original collection of Talavera ceramics by architect Rodolfo Jiménez Britoas.

Restaurants and Traditional Foods of Puebla Mexico

El Mural de los Poblanos is a contemporary restaurant near the Zócalo, that offers traditional foods of Puebla. Lizett Galicia Solis is the talented executive chef who’s famous moles bring in crowds of both tourists and locals alike. One of the specialties is the Mole Poblano, named after the city of Puebla; a delicious rich dark chocolate mole sauce seasoned with spices, peppers and served over chicken, pork or rice for vegetarians. Can’t decide on which mole to order? Try the Enchiladas with your choice of three moles. Leave room for el Regalo de Quatzcoatl; or gift from the gods; a rich creamy chocolate molten lava cake that arrives at the table hot from the oven.

Do not leave Puebla without trying another traditional favorite the Cemita. A delicious stuffed sandwich similar to a Torta, filled with traditional-style white cheese, peppers, tomatoes and chicken or other meat. Found at most restaurants, food stalls, and cafes.

Visitors to Puebla will find a safe and sophisticated urban destination filled with fine shops, world-class cuisine and Spanish-inspired architectural masterpieces.