Puebla: The modern city

Puebla is one of the most modern and impressive cities in Mexico. I visited it already twice because there is so much so see.

In the last report we talked about the biggest pyramide in the world in Cholula. When we are already there we should also take a look at Puebla. The first time I visited the city in 2012 and again at the end of 2018, but I would like to stay more time there because of the many sights, the atmosphere and the food.

This article is also available in English.

My recommendation: The best travel guide for your trip through Mexico*.

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  • Noble, John (Author)
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How to get there

From San Luis Potosí

Unfortunately Puebla is very far from San Luis Potosí. Several times I wished there was a direct flight, but there is none. You have three options to reach the city: With the car (530 km, 6-7 h), with a bus (8-10 h) or by flying to Mexico City (1 h + 1 h waiting time) and taking a cab (2 h). The flight is the fastest, but also the most expensive option.

In 2018 we took the car (7,5 h with traffic jam...). To do that you need to take the Highway 57 from San Luis Potosí till you reach the industrial park of Querétaro , there you will take the 57D direction México to drive around the city. After 270 km you will turn onto M40D direction Puebla/Tula and then follow the Autopista Arco Norte for about 170 km. Then you need to change onto 150D für another 20 km and reach Puebla.

If you prefer the airplan option you can find cheap flights here* and you should only take cabs from official stations (sitios), best option would be to ask for a cab before booking the flight. I am not sure if Uber works for such a big distance.


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Via airplane from other destinations

The airport Puebla (PBC) is located nord-west of the city, close to Cholula. You can reach it with direct flights from eight other airports (13.09.2020): Houston, Cancún, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, Tijuana and Tuxtla Gutierrez. There is no flight from Mexico-City because the distance would be almost too short (recommentation: bus trip, e.g. Touribus; car or rental car). Cheap flights you can find here*.

 

Accomodation

My first visit in the area was a day trip with a Touribus from Mexico-City. During my second visit we stayed in the Hotel Misión Puebla Angelopolis* . The 4* hotel was recommended by colleagues. The rooms were comfortable and cozy, the hotel is easy to reach and very central. The breakfast was included in the booking and from our room we had a good view on the Estralla de Puebla, one of the biggest mobile ferris wheels in the world. Here* könnt ihr das Hotel buchen. Puebla bietet aber auch andere Unterkünfte in Hülle und Fülle, derzeit angesagt ist bspw. das Hotel Isabel direkt im Zentrum der Stadt (perfekte Lage, Parkplatz verfügbar, Frühstück kann extra gebucht werden) – here* you will find the hotel. More options:*


Booking.com

Alternative: There are many AirBnb´s in Puebla (if you are not registered yet you can get here* up to 34€ discount for your first reservation).

 

About the city

Puebla is the 4th biggest city in Mexico and the capital of the state. The city is also known under the name Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza or Puebla de los Ángeles (often called Angelópolis). The historic center with the impressive cathedral belongs to the UNESCO world heritage since 1987.

Located in a central Mexican valley on 2175 m above sea level (San Luis Potosí is only at 1800 m) the city is framed by dangerous giants. In the west you will find the vulcanos Iztaccíhuatl (5.230 m) and the very active Popocatépetl (5.636 m), rank 3 and 2 of the highest mountains in Mexico. In the north you will find the inactive vulcano La Malinche (4.420 m) and in the east the Citlaltépetl (also called Pico de Orizaba), the highest mountain of North America with 5.747 m.

 

Geschichte: Was haben Töpferwaren und Cinco de Mayo mit Puebla zu tun?

The city was 1531 built as Puebla de los Ángeles by the Spaniards and inigenious workers following a defined plan in colonial style. After the foundation the city received the first university of Mexico. Puebla should overtrump the religious center of Cholula and developed to a bastion of the Catholicism because 1543 the diocese was moved from Tlaxcala to the city. Pope Pius X. 1903 raised it to a archdiocese.

Years before pottery was already produced in the area. With new materials from the settlers it developed to a significant industry.

Während des mexikanischen Unabhängigkeitsbestrebens ab 1810 entwickelte sich die Stadt zum kulturellen Zentrum. 1811 stieg sie mit 50.000 Einwohner zur zweitgrößten Stadt Mexikos auf. Am 5. Mai 1862 wehrten hier 2.000 mexikanische Streitkräfte unter Ignacio Zaragoza einen Frontalangriff des aus 6.000 Männern bestehenden französischen Heeres ab (viele der Franzosen waren durch den Fluch de Moctezumas geschwächt, auch Durchfall genannt^^). Der Nationalfeiertag Cinco de Mayo, which is more famous in the USA than in Mexico, was introducted due this victory. Unfortunately one year later the french conquered the city and hold it till 1867.

 

Immigration: Oktoberfest and Volkswagen

During the time of Porfirio Diaz the city earned its reputation as center for recreation and education. But also the economy increased with the development of a strong textile industry. The immigration to Puebla increased, especially people from Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Libanon arrived to the city.

The German immigrants moved to the Humboldt-Colony and build houses in typical bavarian style. The yearly Oktoberfest Puebla is the second biggest Oktoberfest in Mexico, after the on in Mexico-City. With the foundation of the Volkswagen plant 1964 more and more Germans came to the city.

All these international influences can be found in Puebla, some exampled: The lutherian church and German school Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt, the tacos arabes with the influence of arabian spices and kebab, the polenta and the dialect in the quarter of Chipilo, french bread and croissants, ...

The VW plant is the biggest employer in the city. More than 14.000 people work for the company. Till the year 2003 the original VW beetle was produced here. Worldwirde VW built 21.529.464 beetle, 1.7 of them came from Mexico.

There are more than 20 universities in Puebla. After Mexico-City Puebla has the most universites in Mexico. Also a German "Hochschule" and be found, the Colegio Humboldt.

 

If you want to learn more about the Mexican culture and also understand the background then I recommend you the book of Juergen Neubauer. It does not only show the good sides of the country, but also the big contrasts in society.I already lend it so several expats to read it, for me this is a very important book to read before coming to Mexico:*

 

Sights

Since 1987 the historic center of Puebla belongs to the UNESCO world heritage. More than 70 churches, 1000 buildings in colonial style, the highest cathedral in Mexico and a long culinary tradition are waiting to be explored by you.

 

Catedral de Puebla

Even if your trip to Mexico didn´t bring you to Puebla so far you will still have seen the big cathedral: It is shown on the 500 Peso note. The construction of the cathedral began 1550 but the biggest parts were finished in the years around 1640. With 69 m the towers are the highest in Mexico and the cathedral itself is the second biggest in the country (after the one in Mexico-City which is also the biggest in Latin America). Only one of the towers contains a bell. There are some legends why the second bell was not built in - it is probably because the church could sink under the high weight (there is a river below). The cathedral is really big and beautiful inside. The aisles container several additional small chapels, 14 in total. Address; Opening times: Mo-Sa 09:00-13:00, 16:00-20:00

 

Zócalo

Pueblas zentraler Platz lädt mit seinen schattenspendenden Bäumen und den Arkaden mit Restaurants zum Verweilen und Genießen ein. Das heutige Aussehen erhielt der Platz erst 1854, vorher war es ein Marktplatz, auf dem Stierkämpfe und Theateraufführungen stattfanden. Im Zentrum befindet sich der Springbrunnen Fuente de San Miguel Arcangel.

 

 

Templo de Santo Domingo

This church belonged to a (simple looking) Dominican monastry. The accompanying chapel (Capilla del Rosaria) was called the 8th world wonder in the past and counts as the biggest masterpiece in the Mexican barock. The construction startet in 1571, 1611 the base was done and 1659 the building was completed. The Capilla del Rosario was created between 1650-1690 in honor of the rosary madonna. Address; Opening times: Mo 09:00-14:30; Di-Do 09:00-12:45 and 15:30-18:00; Fr 09:00-18:00; So 14:00-18:00. Please note that the cathedal is closed on Sunday and the Templo de Santo Domingo on Saturday!

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Casa de la Cultura

This old bishop's palace contains governmental offices, art galleries, shops, coffees and a tourist information. In the upper level you can find the oldest library of America, the Biblioteca Palafoxiana. Address; Opening times: Mo-Fr 08:00-20:00; Sa 09:00-13:00; So 10:00-18:00

 

Estrella de Puebla

Am 22.07.2013 wurde dieses Riesenrad von Gouverneur Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas in Betrieb genommen. Es erhielt einen Eintrag in das Guinness Buch der Rekorde als das größte mobile Riesenrad der Welt mit einem Durchmesser von 69,8 m und einer Höhe von 80 m. Mittlerweile hat es diesen Titel aber wieder abgeben müssen: Die größten mobilen Riesenräder stehen mittlerweile in Deutschand – das City-Star in Bad Dürkheim (70 m hoch) und das Umadum (78 m; vorher Hi-Sky genannt), welches momentan im Werksviertel hinter dem Münchener Ostbahnhof steht. Ein Besuch lohnt sich trotzdem, da es gleich neben dem gigantischen Einkaufszentrum Isla Angelopolis steht, um das sich etliche Restaurants, Bars und Clus reihen. Address; Öffnungszeiten: Aktuell leider geschlossen (Corona, 27.09.20).

 

Zona Histórica de Los Fuertes and Paseo del Teleferico

A Mexican city needs a cable car (like e.g. in Zacatecas or in the zoo of Guadalajara). The nice cable car of Puebla is located in the Zona Histórica de Los Fuertes, a big park around the hill Guadalupe with several good museums and memorials. Here on the 5th of May 1862 the battle against the French took place. The museums of Fort Loreto and Fort Guadalupe, also the impressive memorials and the mausoleum of Ignacio Zaragoza remind on the war. A visit is mandatory! But you need to plan a lot of time for it (there are more than five museums, several exhibitions, memorials, parks, ...). Here also one time in the year the Feria takes place - a very big folk festival. From the top of the hill you get a new view over the city and on the Popocatépetl.

 

Museo de la Talavera

Westlich des Parks findet ihr das Museo de la Talavera. Wie oben bereits erwähnt, stellte man in Puebla bereits frühzeitig Töpferwaren her. Dieses Kunsthandwerk hat sich über die Jahre immer weiter entwickelt und die Waren aus Puebla gehören zu den bekanntesten Mexikos. Ihr findet rund um die Stadt viele kleine Fabriken und Verkaufsstellen. Das Museum lohnt einen Besuch, falls ihr etwas über das Töpfern lernen möchtet oder an einem Workshop teilnehmen wollt. Address, Opening times Mo-Fr 09:00-17:00; Sa 09:00-15:00.

Los Sapos

One of the most colorful aread of the city. In this alley you can buy great antiques and pottery. The small coffees in the coloful houses invite to linger around. Here you can find the bar La Pasita. Address

 

Food

Also in Puebla you will find many local dishes and one of the best kitchens in Mexico. Well known are:

  • the delicious Mole Poblano
  • Chiles en Nogada (I love them^^)
  • Chalupas (fried small tortillas covered with different ingredients)
  • Cemitas (knusprige Brötchen mit Sesamkörnern, gefüllt mit Käse, Zwiebel, Tomaten, Fleisch)
  • Enchiladas de Pipián (Enchiladas with green pumpkin seed sauce)
  • Molotes (fried masa with different fillings)

You probably noticed that many of the are existing with different names in Mexico (Toastadas, Empanadas, Tortas, ...).

Ihr möchtet kochen lernen wie Mexikaner? Das folgende Buch habe ich meiner Mutter geschenkt, bisher ist sie hellauf begeistert, zumal es auch Tipps zur Beschaffung einiger Zutaten beinhaltet, die man in Deutschland eher selten findet. Das Buch ist jedoch ein ganz schöner Brocken mit mehr als 700 Seiten, dennoch meine Empfehlung:*

Mexiko-Das Kochbuch: Die Bibel der mexikanischen Küche
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Recommentation: La Pasita

Some say that La Pasita is the most famous bar in Puebla. La Pasita was found 1916 by Emilio Contreras Aicardo and his son still owns the bar! You need to come here and drink a Pasita - a liquer of raisins with a toothpick with goat cheese and a raisin inside.

There are two reasons for the popularity: First the challenge that somebody who drinks 100 glasses of pasita will get 1000 Peso and life long free drinks. The owner says that only one man finished the challenge in the last 100 year, but he didn´t survive the consequences^^. The second reason is the art of pouring the pasita: The amount of the drink poured was calculated with the amount of blocks the customer would need to walk home (without passing out). So people who know the bar would order a "La Pasita for two blocks, please!".

The ambient of the small bar - old furniture and decoration, no chairs or tables - is already worth a visit. But a phrase says that you don´t know Puebla if you don´t know La Pasita. Address

 

 

Close by

  • Tepanapa in Cholula: The biggest pyramide in the world is located in Cholula. It is worth a visit.
  • Mexico-City: Capital, one of the biggest cities in the world, many good museums and sights, traffic jam, crime, ... . Mexico-City is a must-see, but I would not want to live there. Till now I was already more than 15 times in the city, reports will follow.
  • Val’QuiricoAn italien village in Mexico. Nice stop on the way to Puebla.
  • Ex-Hacienda de Chautla: A water castle in Mexico! Between Mexico-City and Puebla you can find this beautiful park.
  • Tlaxcala: Worth seeing city north of Puebla and capital of the state Tlaxcala. I was here only for a short stop.
  • Popocatépetl: Big, active vulcano between Mexico-City and Puebla. Together with the earth quakes another big threat to the area. With guied you can try to climb the mountain (5426 m!).
  • On the way from San Luis Potosí to Puebla: The pyramids and warrior statues of Tula, Fire flies in Tlaxcala.

 

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Conclusion Puebla

Puebla gehört auf jeden Fall auf eure Reiseroute. Es gibt kaum eine modernere und sauberere Stadt in Mexiko. In den letzten Jahren hat leider die Kriminalität wieder zugenommen, die touristischen Ecken der Stadt sind aber sicher und wenn ihr euch an einige grundlegende Regeln haltet, könnt ihr die Stadt bedenkenlos besuchen. Ich selbst möchte gerne wiederkommen und noch mehr von Puebla, aber auch von den umliegenden Sehenswürdigkeiten kennenlernen.

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