The state of Puebla is located on the central highlands of east-central Mexico between the Sierra Nevada and the Sierra Madre Oriental. It is where the Cinco de Mayo celebration has more significance than in all of Mexico. For it was here on May 5, 1862 that 6,000 French troops attacked the forts outside of the city of Puebla, thus provoking the Battle of Puebla for which the festivals of Cinco de Mayo commemorates.
Puebla has a population of over 5 million with varying indigenous groups such as the Nahuas, the Mixtecs, and the Popolocas. Many inhabitants live in isolated rural areas amongst the state’s Sierra Norte and Sierra Negra mountains and valleys and have maintained their ancient traditions and culture. Yet, they thrive in their own way, working the land and creating beautiful handmade goods to sell in their markets.
The capital city of the same name, Puebla, is one of the most industrialized areas in Mexico. It’s a booming metropolis with many wonderful attractions surrounding the area. In 1987, its downtown area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and if you are visiting Puebla, you will find stunning ancient churches, folk-baroque style buildings, and open-air markets where you can purchase souvenirs from a host of goods for which this state is known, including Talavera pottery and China Poblana textiles, among others.
If you don’t want to miss a thing in Puebla, take advantage of the “Tourist Routes”. To promote its emerging tourism industry the state has developed twelve routes showcasing its most exciting attractions, not only in its capital, but in the outlying areas that are so rich in culture and history – places you won’t want to miss if you are visiting Puebla.
In the city of Puebla there are 7 Tourist Routes that will take you to every significant piece of architecture and every nearby archeological site; they’ll even take you to popular, modern attractions like the Africam Safari Zoo. If you travel these routes, you truly won’t miss a single fascinating attraction that the capital has to offer.
The 5 tourist routes outside of the capital are divided into the Sierra Mixteca area in the south and the Sierra Norte in the north. On these routes, you’ll take an enchanted tour through ancient villages and cultures with their incredibly ornate churches and ex-convents, their markets of handmade crafts, as well as their archeological ruins, thermal springs, and lakes.
The state has some spectacular hidden gems so worthy of exploring - the architecture, the native people, their way of life - all of it providing you with an experience that will enrich your life in ways you never knew existed. Here is a sprinkling of the towns and villages that have so much to show you:
In Tepeaca, with its traditional Mexican central plaza, you’ll find a San Francisco ex-Convent and the Moorish Roller – once used to torture Indians, but since converted to a tame four-sided clock. Purchase a souvenir from the town’s people, who specialize in handcrafted items made with onyx.
In the picturesque colonial town of Cuetzalan, visit the stunning San Francisco and Guadalupe churches, the Municipal Palace, and the flower-filled cemetery featuring a bell tower decorated with 80 clay pitchers. Also explore the nearby archaeological ruins of a pyramid and Juego de Pelota (ball court) at Yohualichan.
In Chignahuapan, visit the Nuestra Señora de la Salud Church, home to a revered petrified mushroom with strange inscriptions over it; the Virgen del Ocote, a naturally formed figure, which was found when the bark was removed from a tree; and thermal water spas. Find great souvenirs from their handcrafted specialties of woolen textiles and pottery.
The city of Cholula is home to some absolutely stunning churches, such as the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and the Royal Chapel with its murals and 49 domes. Several archeological zones are here as well. The souvenirs you’ll take home from Cholula are hand woven textiles and glazed pottery.
In Huauchinango, visit a Parish with a dome that is larger than the one on Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. And don’t miss the Market of Flowers with its fantastic display of 200 Azalea varietals.
In Huejotzingo, visit a beautiful baroque Ex-convento Franciscano del siglo XVI with stunning religious frescoes and oil paintings. Wool rugs are among Huejotzingo’s most outstanding handicrafts.
Tehuacan is famous for its mineral springs and their healing properties, the state’s most important archeological museum – The Regional Museum, its delectable regional cuisine, which includes Chiles en Nogada (sweet green peppers in nut sauce) and Mole decadera. The Zona Arqueologica la Meza is also nearby. Take home souvenirs of handcrafted items featuring onyx, textiles, woven straw, and embroidery.
Near the town of Zacatlan is the Piedras Encimadas Valley, a wooded place with a great spectacle of more than 50 natural sculptures of stacked rocks resembling such things as mythical animals, birds, and human figures – some over 20 meters high! While in the area, taste some delicious apple cider made with the apples for which the town is known and celebrates every August with the Apple Fair.
If you’re looking for a park to chill out it in, the state has many national parks along the slopes of its surrounding mountains, like the volcanic Izta-Popo National park, where travelers can explore Pre-Hispanic ceremonial caves or take to its many hiking and horseback riding trails.
There is much to see and do in this state, and your visit will leave you with an appreciation for the native Puebla’s rich and admirable way of life!