, with or without angels, remains
the same all time Puebla
: a colonial city that
dazzles visitors for the monumentality of its temples and residences,
ever more centenarian, that pack its wonderful Historic Centre,
a bastion of yesterday with close to two thousand buildings of incalculable
architectonic value, which take pride on their old elegance.
Ample windows and imposing balconies are part of these civil and religious pearls, which although show many differences regarding their architectonic styles (they range from the renaissance up to the neoclassical baroque), they are similar in their use of the ever present tiles of Talavera, a Mexican version - rather from Puebla - of a tile introduced by the Dominicans by the late XVI century.
For these and many other reasons, the Historic Centre is considered as Cultural Patrimony of Humanity since 1987, a fair acknowledge to the old though vigorous heart of Puebla de Los Angeles (also called Angelopolis), a city founded in 1531.
What came next is easy to explain; the city began to grow little by little and its wealthiest settlers, maybe moved by faith, perhaps just to ensure a place for themselves in heaven, promoted the construction of convents, churches and religious schools. It did not matter how much money was needed or when the works would be concluded; one could not be mean with God.
And the thriving city
began to be populated by imposing temples such as the Cathedral,
a flashy "house of God" whose belfries seem to pinch the sky (could
it be to have the angels coming down again?) while graceful cherubs
"play" flying in its façade; or the Chapel of the Rosary, known
in its time as the eighth wonder of the world.
The convents of Angelopolis deserve an especial mention, because more than one singular event took place in their cloisters, currently transformed into museums, such as the creation of the famous mole poblano (gastronomic banner of the region) in the kitchen of the Convent of Santa Rosa.
In the meantime, the
Convent of Santa Monica became a "trench of faith" in which dozens
of nuns lived clandestinely for more than 70 years, in order to
escape from the anticlerical laws promulgated by the government
of the reform (1855-1861).
In those times the church owned half of the buildings in Puebla, an excess that the then liberal government (known as the reform) was not willing to permit, hence it expropriated and closed several religious seats.
The city played a strategic role in controlling the neighbouring
towns and the trade routes between Veracruz and Mexico City, in
its first colonial years. Later, Puebla
itself as an important agricultural and industrial centre, being
the fabrication of tiles of Talavera one of its main activities.
Now turned into a symbol of Puebla
, the colourful
tiles original from the Town of Talavera, in Spain, were introduced
by the Dominican monks by the late XVI century, but bit by bit tiles
different to the European ones began to be manufactured, reinventing
the designs and techniques involved.
The House of the Puppets is a notable example of the use of the tiles of Talavera, where 16 human figures made of such tiles can be appreciated on the façade of this house of baroque style. It is said that its first owner, mayor and town councillor Agustin de Ovando y Villavicencio, ordered the arrangement of these figures to mock his political enemies.
With its marked colonial features, the Puebla
the XXI century is a peaceful and progressive city; it is the capital
of the homonymous state and is located just 129 kilometres away
from the City of Mexico, being an excessively tempting destination
for travellers visiting the largest city in the world.
is not only architecture, but also the
natural magic that becomes evident in its splendid sierra landscapes,
in its tumultuous forests, in its lagoons reflecting the sky, and
in its farming fields sown since pre Hispanic times by the Toltec,
Chichimec, Olmec, Nahua and Mexic Cultures.
Like the Mesoamerican roots that remain vigorous in Cholula, considered to be the oldest town in Mexico, since it has been interruptedly occupied for 25 centuries now. The zone was an important religious centre similar to that of Teotihuacán in his time of splendour, and you can still catch a glimpse of its greatness on the lavish pyramid of Tepanapa.
The charms of Puebla
stretch to the surroundings
of its capital, being indispensable to visit the Popocatépetl (Smokey
Mountain) and Itzaccíhuatl (White Lady) Volcanoes, the crown jewels
of one of the largest national parks in the country.
overwhelms, seduces and conquers with its
superb baroque architecture, and its exquisite and complicated gastronomy;
though perhaps the most admirable thing is the drive of its people,
main legacy of its first settlers who built an amazing city, with
the help of those hard-working angels who outlined the streets with
their threads of gold.