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PUEBLA

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Municipal Palace Angels descended from the sky to outline, with extremely fine threads of gold, the streets and plazas that would configure the urban countenance of a rising city. Tirelessly tender, the graceful winged beings worked with admirable dexterity until the blessed eyes of Fray Julian Garces, bishop of Tlaxcala, awakened to the reality of everyday life.

Parian de Tlaquepaque Astonished and stuffed with faith before what he considered to be a divine message, bishop Garces moved heaven and earth, though not precisely to have more angels falling from the sky, but in order to have one of the plenty of urban seeds starting to sprout in the broad Mexican territory, getting the official name of Puebla de Los Angeles.

Tecali Its quest was accomplished and now there is a Puebla de Los Angeles, although everyone, or almost, call it simply Puebla, in spite that the celestial inspiration of these forgotten angels seems to be present in every street, and on every ornament or bit of tile covering the facades of its big old houses and churches.

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    Puebla
    Today's Puebla, 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.

    Alfeñique's House 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.

    Rosario's Chapel 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.

    Night view of the Cathedral 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.

    Santa Rosa's Ex-Convent 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.

    Santa Monica 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 would reveal 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 of 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.

    But Puebla 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.

    Puebla 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.

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