This past weekend I traveled to Puebla and Cholula.
The bus from Queretaro costs around $35 and takes four hours to get there. The bus line, Futura, was very accommodating. In addition to music, games and movies on-board, everyone got a nice bag lunch for the ride. It even came with a headphones and an inflatable neck pillow. 🙂
While driving toward Puebla, you pass the active volcano Popocatépetl. Rising almost 18,000 ft high, it is the second highest peak in Mexico.The city of Puebla, is also located in the state of Puebla. It is one of the top five Spanish colonial cities of Mexio and is known for its Mexican baroque architecture using gorgeous talavera tiles. For this reason, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Where I stayed:
For this trip I stayed at Hostal Santo Domingo in the historic city center. The hostal was $10 per night for a dormitory bed, plus it included continental breakfast. Not too shabby. 🙂While at the hostal I met a girl named Maria from Moscow, Russia. We decided to do some sightseeing together. Our first stop was a rooftop deck to the view the sunset. What a gorgeous view of Puebla!After, we went to an event called Night of the Museums. From 5-10 PM, the museums are open with free admission. We decided to visit Museo Amparo. The museum is actually a restored 17th century hospital, and includes various pieces of pottery and sculptures from pre-Columbian civilizations.
In addition to the artifacts, their temporary exhibition was by artist named Gabriel de la Mora. It included a mix of re-purposed garbage from landfills that had been constructed into art pieces. Maria and I had a good laugh as we walked out into the courtyard. I initially thought this was another exhibit, but it turned out to just be a construction site. Hah.
Gabriel states, “…art is not created nor destroyed; it is only transformed, just as energy is.”
After viewing some very thought-provoking pieces, we headed up to their rooftop terrace to listen to this beautiful orchestra and take in the view. Incredible!
The museum is located next to Zocalo, which is the main plaza in Puebla. At night the city comes alive with various cafes and restaurants encircling the plaza’s immense Cathedral. Multi-colored fountains and illuminated buildings sit among the cobblestone streets lined with trees and antique street lamps. The combination of the modern and traditional makes for a truly spectacular atmosphere.
In addition to the churches and museums, Puebla has the Palafoxiana Library, which is the first library in the Americas.
It has over 40,000 books, which are mostly antique and historic in themselves. I learned that to check out a book at the library, one must make an appointment. The book is read in a special room and you need to wear gloves to turn the pages, since they are so delicate.
This is a 16th century book wheel that was used to save important pages for scientists to reference and compare different texts.
Day Trip to Cholula:
A short 30-minute ride from Puebla is the Pueblo Mágico of Cholula. They are known for having 365 CHURCHES, which means a celebration for every day of the year. 🙂
I also like finding bizarre attractions, like this tree house in the middle of the historic center. 🙂
The most impressive attraction is the Grand Pyramid of Cholula.
Based on its dimensions, Guinness Book of World Records has named this archaeological ruin the largest pyramid in the world!
Its construction began in 300 BC and continued to grow through Olmeca, Tolteca and Chichimeca reign. It now spans over 25 acres and stands almost 200 feet tall. As each empire was overtaken, part of the pyramid was destroyed and built upon. The resulting pyramid is layers and layers of pre-Columbian history. Finally, when Hernán Cortés arrived in the 16th century, the Spaniards massacred all the Cholulans and placed a Catholic church on top of the ruins to show their dominance.
I began with a visit to this church at the top of the pyramid.
The view of the city from Sanctuary of our Lady of Remedies is absolutely marvelous!
To view the ruins exterior, one must first navigate through the pyramid. A labyrinth of nearly five miles worth of tunnels built under the pyramid leads to an open field where you can view the different levels of construction.
A truly impressive man-made marvel.
In addition to its architectural marvels, Mexico offers many religious marvels as well. Yesterday was February 2nd, which is known as Candlemas in Mexico. It marks the forty day time period after Christ’s birth, when Mary and Joseph carried Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to be blessed.
To honor this historic moment, people purchase and dress up Christ dolls to carry around with them in the city. On February 2nd, they will also take them to the church to be blessed. This weekend in Puebla, I witnessed many people both young and old cradling dolls in their arms as they went to church. It shows extreme devotion and religious belief.
Here are some shots of Puebla’s churches and the main Cathedral.
On the Cathedral doors reads, “To the Mother of God Almighty. This Sacred Work is Dedicated.”
Rich Chocolate Mole
After a long weekend of sightseeing, I headed over to Mercado de los Sabores Poblanos, or Market of Poblano Flavors to try some regional cuisine. This market is perfect for newcomers, since it is extremely clean and spacious. It has a very inviting atmosphere for tourists. 🙂
Puebla is famous for their mole, which is a rich, sweet and spicy sauce prepared by layering many flavors. Ingredients may include poblano chilies, chocolate, cinnamon, almonds, old bread, parsley, oregano, pumpkin seeds and nutmeg.
This ingredient list could potentially go on forever and every person has their own recipe, so it is very difficult to replicate. It is a true labor of love. ❤
I met up with Maria from Moscow and Marion from northern France for a lunch date. I could not decide which mole to try, so I decided to try them all. 🙂
The cook originally thought there was one mole for each of us, but soon realized they were all mine. Hah. 😀 He apologized for the separate plates, and felt flattered that I wanted to sample them all. 🙂
Heaping ladles of thick mole poblano, mole rojo and mole verde were smothered over each moist chicken drumstick.
It was honestly the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, rich and decadent. The chocolate flavor was more pronounced in the poblano mole, but the verde had a nutty combination of pumpkin seeds and almonds. Absolutely incredible!
We also shared a chili relleno or pepper stuffed with cheese, which was delicious dipped in the bowls of mole.
After lunch, I wished the girls safe travels on their next destination. Maria is headed to Guatemala and Marion is moving to Switzerland to work at a ski lodge. 🙂
Why I love Puebla:
Perhaps my favorite part about Puebla is their sense of community. On Sunday, I spent the morning hanging out in their Zocalo. Families gathered from all over to take part in exercise and games. They had a free orchestra concert in the center square as well. People were laughing and relaxing on park benches.
Children were feeding and playing with pigeons near the fountain.
They had a lovely antique and craft market nearby.
Everyone was interacting with each other and enjoying life. It was an upbeat and idealistic scene for this day and age. LOVE!
Another adventure in the books. Leaving happy and satisfied with great memories and full belly.
For those of you that want to learn or brush up on your Spanish language skills, I just discovered a new computer application. Duolingo is an interactive language course that combines speaking, reading and writing, and listening. It is available for desktops and mobile devices, plus it is FREE. 🙂They also offer courses in Italian, French, German, Russian and many more. Feel free to check it out. Enjoy and until next time. 🙂