The magnificent main square (Zócalo, Plaza de la Constitución), with its tall trees, flower beds and fountains, is lined with arcades (Portales) and forms the busy centre of the town.
In terms of size, the Puebla Cathedral is second only to the Cathedral in Mexico City. Taking almost 75 years to build, it was opened in 1649.
The Biblioteca Palafoxiana, founded in 1646 by Bishop Juan Palafox, is housed on the first floor of the beautiful old Archbishop's Palace, now the Casa de la Cultura, south of the cathedral. It houses a large collection of rare and valuable books and old maps; the impressive Baroque reading room is worth seeing.
South of the cathedral in Calle 2 Sur is the Museo Amparo, opened in 1991. This museum houses the magnificent pre-Columbian collection of Josué and Jaqueline Sáenz, one of the largest private collections of its kind. It includes the well-known Maya altar of the "Lords of Yaxchilán" (open: Wed.-Mon. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.).
Casa del Dean
One block west of the Archbishop's Palace stands the Casa del Dean (Deanery; C. 16 de Septiembro 505), an attractive old Renaissance-style townhouse dating from 1580. Inside there are impressive murals interpreting Petrarch's poem "I trionfi" of the triumph of love, death, chastity, glory, time and eternity, with Indian symbols.
The magnificent Poblano-style house in Av. 3 Pte. 302, west of the Deanery, contains the beautiful collection of Chinese porcelain, Talavera ceramics, wrought iron, etc. belonging to José Luis Bello.
Address: 5 Oriente 3, Puebla, Puebla 72000, Mexico
Opening hours: 10am-4:30pm; Closed: Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00
Useful tips: Free admission on Tuesdays.
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Church of Santo Domingo
The Capilla del Rosario (Rosary Chapel) was built in 1690 and is a brilliant achievement of Mexican Baroque art. Every inch of the walls, ceiling, pillars and portals is covered with tiles, gold leaf, sculptures and carving. Of note is an orchestra of cherubs surrounded by a riot of arabesques from the middle of which God the Father appears to be floating down.
Museum of Religious Art (Convent of Santa Monica)
Continue along the 5 de Mayo from the Rosary Chapel to the Convent of Santa Monica (Av. 18 Pte. 103), founded in 1609 and renovated in 1680. Although it was closed by the Reform Laws of 1857 the nuns continued to run it secretly until they were discovered in 1934. The former secret chambers and the furnishings unfortunately were lost during a conversion. However, two cells with plank beds and instruments for self-flagellation, and an old kitchen with an adjoining dining hall are among areas that can be visited. The convent now houses the Museum of Religious Art.
Two blocks east of the main square stands the Jesuit church La Compañía, opened in 1767, which has a Churrigueresque façade and a blue and white tiled cupola. In the year of its opening the Jesuit order was expelled from Mexico. In the sacristy can be seen the tomb of a supposed Chinese princess who was sold by pirates as a slave and brought to Mexico before gaining her freedom in Puebla at the end of the 17th c. She is said to have been the instigator of the picturesque China-Poblana costume which later spread throughout Mexico. The adjoining former Jesuit grammar school is now occupied by the university.
House of the Puppets
The Casa de los Muäecos (House of the Puppets), an attractive house in the "wedding cake style", is situated at the beginning of Cale 2 Nte.
Almond Cake House
The original Casa del Alfeäique (Almond Cake House; 4 Ote. 16) is in Av. 4 Ote. 416, a right-hand turning off Calle 2 Nte. This guest-house, thought to have been built at the end of the 18th c. by Antonio de Santa Maria Incháurregui, boasts coloured tiles, red brick and white stucco, and is one of the best examples of the Poblano style, the local version of Baroque. Today this building is the Museo Regional, in which the principal exhibits are ceramics, weapons, paintings, costumes and furniture.
Originally set up in the 18th century in order to entice back the tradesmen of Zócalo who had fled, it is now devoted to arts and crafts in little shops (c. 6 Nte between Av. 2 and 6 Ote). Especially worth-while purchases include examples of onyx. In the adjoining "Barrio del Artista" artists can be seen at work.
San Francisco Convent
A short diversion from Teatro Principal leads to the San Francisco Convent in Av. 14 Oriente. It dates from 1551 and has a beautiful tiled façade. Of interest are the Churrigueresque doorway and the carved 18th c. choir stalls. In about 1800 the convent was rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style.
Crowning a fortified hill in the north-east of the town stands Fort Loreto (Fuerte de Loreto), built in 1816 and now a military museum. It is dedicated to the struggle against the French which took place on this hill. From the fort a fine view of the town can be enjoyed. On the southern side of the hill is Fort Guadalupe (Fuerte Guadalupe).
Between the two forts, Loreto and Guadalupe, extends the Centro Civico de 5 de Mayo where, as well as a planetarium, an open-air theatre and exhibitions of arts and crafts, can be also found the Museo del Estado de Puebla (the state museum) in which interesting archaeological finds (Olmec, Toltec and Aztec) and ethnological exhibits from the region are on show.
In the north-west of the town, in the old railway station (corner of 12 Pte. and 11 Norte) an original Railway Museum has been installed. It consists of almost 200 old locomotives, coaches and other material from the heyday of Mexican railways.
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