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Puebla, Mexico - Architecture, Cocina Poblana, and Talavera Pottery PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen   

Yohualichan Archological Zone 1, Puebla, MexicoPuebla, Mexico is an enchanting UNESCO World Heritage city where the historical architecture is a delicious mélange of Baroque, Classical, and Renaissance styles that captivate the eyes; it is the home of talavera pottery, and Cocina Poblano, Mexico's famous gastronomy featuring mole poblano.

The city of Puebla, founded in 1531, and nicknamed City of Angels or Angelópolis in Spanish, is located in south-central Mexico 84 miles (136 km) east of Mexico City, is the country's fifth largest city with a population of +1.4 million, and is the capital of the state of Puebla. It is a city which has much to offer its visitors including cultural museums, historic and architecturally interesting churches, archeological ruins, talavera ateliers, cooking classes, boutique shopping, and much more.

In late October 2009, I took a Mexicana Airlines flight from JFK International Airport in New York to Monterrey, Mexico, followed by a short 85-minute flight from  Monterrey to Puebla. Service onboard Mexicana Airlines was courteous and professional, with meals and complimentary drinks served on the flight from New York to Monterrey as well as complimentary headsets to watch the two movies. From Monterrey to Puebla there was beverage service and small snacks. In addition, when most airlines are charging to check bags, passengers are allowed two free checked bags on Mexicana Airlines, which adds up to a pleasant travel experience.

The architecture of Puebla is visually stimulating, and I stayed at an exquisite little gem, the 10-room luxury boutique hotel, Casona de la China Poblana. Located in the historic center of the city, the hotel was transformed from the 17th century mansion that was home to the legendary Catarina de San Juan the "China Poblana" for which the hotel is named.

Casona de la China Poblana, Puebla, Mexico
Entrance to Guestroom

The hotel has an excellent gourmet restaurant, EKOS Restaurante, an intimate bar, comfortable sitting areas, and each of the luxurious guestrooms are uniquely different in style and design.

Read about Casona de la China Poblana in the Hotel and Resorts section.

Casona de la China Poblana, Puebla, MexicoCasona de la China Poblana
Corner 4 north and Av. Juan de Palafox and Mendoza
Col. Centro
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:       +52-222- 242-5336 

There is much to experience in Puebla and the nearby cities, and after having a lovely breakfast at the hotel, I took an early morning walk to get the pulse of the city, followed by a short drive to Cholula to see the Great Pyramid, Chiconahui Quiahuitl, which consists of 7 underground pyramids, has a 400-meter base and is thought to be the largest in the world.

Museum at Cholula, Mexico
Museum at Cholula

The pyramids of Mexico are most fascinating, and I began my exploration of Chiconahui Quiahuitl with a visit to the museum to learn about the history of the pyramid and to see a replica of the pyramid to appreciate the size of the structure, which is 177 feet (54 meters) in height, and 1,247 - 1,440 feet (380 - 439 meters) on the sides. Construction began in the 1st century and continued until the 8th century. Of particular note at the museum are the many artifacts on display as well as a replica of two of the murals, the Drinkers mural depicting the people drinking pulque (ancient traditional alcholic beverage), which they believed resulted in new birth, and the Chapulines (grasshoppers) mural, which is the oldest mural found.

Drinkers Mural, Puebla, Mexico
Drinkers Mural

Walking through the narrow tunnels through the pyramid was a memorable experience, and when I exited and walked around the excavated areas of the ruins, I think my heart skipped a beat, as it was so remarkable. Chiconahui Quiahuitl is open Monday through Sunday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm.

Chiconahui Quiahuitl, Puebla, Mexico

Chiconahui Quiahuitl, Puebla, Mexico
Chiconahui Quiahuitl

At the very top of the hill stands the bright yellow Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios with its distinct talavera tile domes, and I walked up the steep hill to see the church. Reaching the top I was rewarded with spectacular views of Cholula and the beautiful church with a side chapel filled with Milagros.

Santuario de la Viren de los Remedios, Puebla, Mexico

Santuario de la Viren de los Remedios, Puebla, Mexico
Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios

My next stop was to the Convento de San Gabriel founded in 1539 which is ornate with gold and statues of saints dressed with fabric clothing. Of importance is the Royal Chapel, which has a mosque-like design.

Convento de San Gabriel, Puebla, MexicoConvento de San Gabriel, Puebla, Mexico
Convento de San Gabriel

Talavera is the name of the famous blue and white glazed handmade pottery that is seen throughout Puebla, MexicoWhile I was in Cholula I visited the atelier of Talavera de la Reyna to learn about the making of talavera and to understand this fascinating art and watch the artisans at work. Talavera de la Reyna is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 pm - 6:30 pm, and on Saturday from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm.

Talavera de la Reyna, Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Talavera de la Reyna

Read the Arts section: The Art and Science of Talavera Pottery at Talavera de la Reyna, Cholula, Puebla, Mexico to learn more about Talavera Pottery.

Talavera de la Reyna, Cholula, Puebla, MexicoTalavera de la Reyna
Caminoa la Carcañ
a 2413
Recta a Cholula, C.P. 72760
Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:  +52-222-225-4058
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On my return, I stopped at the church Santa Maria Tonantzintla located 15 miles (24 km) from the city of Puebla, which is an exquisite example of Indian Baroque or Baroque New Spain at its most intricate and ornate.

Sanat Maria Tonantzintla, Puebla, Mexico
Santa Maria Tonantzintla

The exterior features talavera tiles and statues of the saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John on the corners. The interior is almost unbelievable to describe and must be experienced to appreciate. The church was built from the 16th until the 19th century and every surface of the church is covered with Indigenous faces that each have their own personality, typical Mexican fruits, vegetables, chiles, and flowers grace the columns, and everywhere there is gold. It is the most fascinating and indeed the most ornate church that I have ever seen. Definitely allow enough time for your visit to truly appreciate the art. Santa Maria Tonantzintla is open daily from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm.

I continued exploring Puebla by visiting the Catedral de Puebla, which building commenced in 1575, was consecrated in 1649, and was completed 300 years later. It has magnificent proportions and features 14 chapels, 3 organs, choir loft, 138 windows, and twin towers are the tallest in Mexico. Catedral de Puebla is open daily from 6:30 am - 12:30 pm and from 4:00 pm - 7:30 pm.

Catdral de Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Catedral de Puebla

Catedral de Puebla
Av. 16 de Septiembre on the corner of 5 Oriente
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

Each of the churches is architecturally unique, and I visited the Templo de Santo Domingo where its Chapel Del Rosario, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, took 40 years to complete and its plaster is covered with 24-kt gold. Look for the many elements of symbolism located throughout the church and the chapel.

Templo de Santo Domingo, Puebla, Mexico
Templo de Santo Domingo

Templo de Santo Domingo
5 de Mayo at the corner of 4 Poniente
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

I also visited the Palacio Municipal opposite the zocalo, built in 1906, which had an interesting display for the Day of the Dead (All Saints Day) celebration that takes place each year between November 1st and 2nd.

Palacio Municipal, Puebla, Mexico
Palacio Municipal

Palacio Municipal
Av. Maximino Avila Camacho
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

Located nearby to my hotel, I discovered the Nuevo Museo Universitario, Interactivo Casa de los Muñecos, while taking an early morning walk. The 18th century building was the former home of Don Agustin de Ovando y Villavicencio (1745-1832), who was of an elite Pueblan family. The architecture incorporates Baroque elements, and the façade features 16 interesting tile figures. Although it was too early to visit the museum, I did enjoy looking around the courtyard and admiring the architecture that has different faces on the supports along the top of the yellow and white building.

Nuevo Museo Universitario
Nuevo Museo Universitario

The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. Admission is charged for the museum. Adults: $30 pesos, 60+ Years and under 12 years: $5 pesos, Students: $10 pesos. Admission is free on Wednesday.

Nuevo Museo Universitario, Puebla, Mexico
Nueva Museo Universitario Courtyard

Nuevo Museo Universitario
2 Norte No. 2
Centro Historico
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:       +52-222-246-2899 

The gastronomy of the Puebla region, called Cocina Poblana is celebrated throughout Mexico and its most famous of the recipes is mole poblano (pronounced moh lay), a rich and tasty sauce made with a chocolate base and served over turkey or chicken, and as would be expected, there are many excellent restaurants in Puebla.

Chef Alonso Hernandez and Debra Argen at Cocina Poblana, Puebla, Mexico
Chef Alonso Hernandez and Debra

To appreciate the style of Cocina Poblana, I took a 1-day cooking class with celebrated Chef Alonso Hernandez at the restaurant Sacristía La Compañía at Mesón Sacristía, where I learned to make Mole Poblano, Salsa Verde, Salsa Roja, Chalupas, and Hibiscus Flower Water. The class was definitely a highlight of my trip to Puebla. Sacristía de la Compañía offers 1, 3, and 5-day cooking classes that are offered with or without accommodations at the hotel, Mesón Sacristía de la Compañía.

After class, I enjoyed the fruits of my labor by having a delicious lunch at Sacristía de la Compañía, which is open Monday through Saturday from 1:30 pm until 11:30 pm, and on Sunday from 1:30 pm until 5:30 pm. call or email ahead to reserve a spot in their cooking classes.

Cocina Poblana, Puebla, Mexico
Sacristía de la Compañía Lunch

Read about Sacristía de la Compañía in the Restaurants, Gastronomy, and Chefs' Recipes sections.

www.Mesones-Sacristia.comSacristía de la Compañía
Mesón Sacristía de la Compañía
6 sur 304 Callejón de los Sapos
Centro Histórico
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:  +52-222-232-4513  
Fax:             +52-222-242-3554
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I also had an excellent lunch at Restaurante La Noria, a charming restaurant on the grounds of a former 16th century hacienda that serves traditional Cocina Poblana as well as European contemporary cuisine.

Restaurante La Noria, Puebla, Mexico
Restaurante La Noria Dining Room

Highlights of my lunch included Queso Poblano relleno de poblano, champiñons y cebolla, which was a generous portion of melted Poblano cheese delectably filled with sautéed poblano peppers, mushrooms, and onions; and Crema de Cilantro con nuez y croutons, a velvety cream of cilantro soup with pecans and croutons. Restaurante La Noria is open Monday through Saturday from 1:30 pm until 11:30 pm, and on Sunday from 1:30 pm until 5:30 pm.

Restaurante La Noria, Puebla, Mexico
Restaurante La Noria

Read about Restaurante La Noria in the Restaurants sections

Restaurante La Noria, Puebla, Mexico

Restaurante La Noria
23 Sur esquina con 41 Poniente Col. La Noria
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:       +52-222-237-7213 

For dinner I ate at the traditional restaurant, Restaurante El Mural de los Poblanos located in the historic district and housed in the former courtyard of a 17th century mansion. The restaurant features delicious traditional Cocina Poblano (cuisine of the Puebla region) and a sensational mural by the artist Antonio Álvarez Morán depicting the people of Puebla, for which the restaurant is named.

Restaurante El Mural de los Poblanos, Puebla, Mexico
Restaurante El Mural de los Poblanos

A few of the highlights of my dinner included La Ensalada de Nopales, a traditional salad of sliced tomatoes, radish, green chile, grated cheese from the nearby city of Atlixco, and avocado that was drizzled with olive oil (La Ensalada de Nopales, al estilo tradicional de los mercados con jitomate, rábanos, chile verde, queso panela, aguacate, y aceite de olivo); and Los Tacos Gobernador, housemade corn tortillas filled with Mexican shrimp and grated cheese and accompanied by a mound of chunky guacamole garnished with julienne red peppers (Los Tacos Gobernador, deliciosas tortillas de maiz hechas a mano rellenas de camarones a la mexicana con queso gratinado). Restaurante El Mural de los Poblanos is open for lunch and dinner from 1:00 pm until 11:00 pm.

Restaurante El Mural de los Poblanos, Puebla, Mexico - Salad

Read about Restaurante El Mural de los Poblanos in the Restaurants sections

El Mural de los Pablanos, Puebla, MexicoRestaurante El Mural de los Poblanos
16 de Septiembre 506
Centro Histó
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:       +52-222-242-0503  

I continued my discovery of the state of Puebla by exploring the nearby city of Atlixco, which is Puebla's third largest city (after Puebla and Tehuacán) and is located 15 miles (24 km) from the city of Puebla. Yet despite its close proximity to the city of Puebla, its climate is slightly different than Puebla due to its lower elevation of 6,037 feet (1840 meters) versus Puebla's elevation of 7,003 feet (2135 meters). On my drive to Atlixco I was rewarded with a spectacular view of the snow clad Popcatépetl volcano, the second largest peak in Mexico with a height of 17,800 feet (5,426 meters).

Popocatepetl Volcano
Popcatépetl Volcano 

In Atixco, I stayed at the Antigua Alquería de Carrión, an 18-room luxury boutique hotel that was a former 17th century mansion, and has an intimate bar, restaurant, and an attractive swimming pool. The hotel is conveniently located near the main plaza or zocalo and is rimmed with inviting talavera tile benches to sit and people watch. Also of interest is the talavera tile façade of the 17th century Palacio Municipal, and the yellow stucco 17th century Iglesia Santa Maria de la Navidad.

Antigua Alqueria de Carrion, Puebla, Mexico
Antigua Alquería de Carrión

During my stay I had a lovely dinner at the hotel's restaurant where art snowflakes were suspended from the two-story ceiling and the tables were dressed with pretty linens. Highlights of my dinner included a refreshing Forever Spring Salad made with grapes, apples, nuts, spinach, cubed cheese from Atlixco, and caramelized pecans, followed by a large portion of fettuccini with shrimp in a garlic sauce with grated cheese.

Taking an after dinner stroll when the shadow of an angel was cast high on the church from the wrought iron fence that is  lined with angel statues was most magical. Located nearby on the hill is the impressive Ex-Convento de San Francisco.

Although not open to the public, guests staying at the Antigua Alquería de Carrión have the opportunity for some very special privileges and experiences, including visiting the privately owned San Mateo Hacienda.

Santa Maria de la Natividad, Puebla, Mexico
Santa Maria de la Natidad

The owners of the San Mateo Hacienda are dedicated to preserving the heritage of the city, and the wife has been working diligently to raise funds to restore the 18th century paintings that were found in the Pinacoteca Hospital. There are 54 impressive paintings in the collection that tell the story of the life of Saint John, and as a guest of the Antigua Alquería de Carrión, I had the opportunity to visit the San Mateo Hacienda as well as see the remarkable collection of paintings.

San Mateo Hacienda Courtyard, Puebla, Mexico
San Mateo Hacienda Courtyard

Read about Antigua Alquería de Carrión in the Hotels and Resorts sections.

Antigua Alqueria de Carrion, Puebla, MexicoAntigua Alquería de Carrión
Nicolás Bravo 2
Col. Centro 74200
Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:  +52-244-761-8080
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My next stop in my discovery of the state of Puebla was to Cuetzalan, located in Sierra Norte, 114 miles (183 km) from the city of Puebla, which was designated as of Mexico's magical villages in 2002 due to its rich history, legends, and culture.

Shrine on way to Cuetzalan, Puebla, Mexico
Shrine on road to Cuetzalan

I stopped at the Yohualichan Archeological Zone, which was founded by the Totonac around 400 AD. The area is magical with its many ruins, ball court, and sacrificial area. Located high on a hill, the views are remarkable. Yohualichan Archeological Zone is open daily from 9:00 am - 5:30 pm. Admission is charged.

Yohualichan Archeological Zone, Puebla, Mexico
Yohualichan Ball Court

In front of the ruins there is a small church and a voladores or flyers pole, used in a ceremonial dance by the indigenous people who dress in brightly colored traditional clothing and fly around the pole tied by a rope around their ankle.

Debra visiting Yohualichan Archeological Zone, Puebla, Mexico
Debra at Yohualichan Archeological Zone

In Cuetzalan I enjoyed soaking up the ambience where I happened to catch a procession through the cobblestone streets with people wearing traditional costume, carrying shrines, and playing music in anticipation of Day of the Dead, (November 1st - 2nd), which is an important celebration in Mexico.

Cuetzalan Parade, Puebla, MexicoCuetzalan, Puebla, Mexico
Cuetzalan Parade and Town

I also visited the Church of San Francisco, with magnificent proportions, a large gold crown with a cross at the front of the church, impressive stained glass windows, and glass enclosed statues of saints.

Church of San Francisco, Puebla, Mexico
Church of San Francisco

Of course, the best part was simply strolling through the streets and browsing in the shops, purchasing coffee an important product of the region, and admiring the traditional white clothing of the men and woman of Cuetzalan.

I returned to the city of Puebla and stayed at La Purificadora Hotel en Puebla, a stunning contemporary design 26-room luxury boutique hotel located in what was once a 19th century water purification in the heart of the historic district. The hotel has a rooftop swimming pool and Terrace Bar, Business Center, Spa, and an excellent restaurant.

La Purificiadora Hotel, Puebla, Mexico
La Purificadora Hotel

I had an excellent dinner at La Purificadora Restaurant, where a few of the highlights from my dinner included Squash blossoms filled with cheese and served with tomato broth (Flores de calabaza rellenas de quesillo con caldillo de jitomate); Shrimp Tacos (Tacos de camaron); and Chalupitas with red sauce, duck confit, and Grilled Salmon with creamy yoghurt, Manzanilla sherry, and chipolte (Salmon al gill con cremoso de yoghurt de Manzanilla y chipolte).

La Purificiadora Hotel, Puebla, Mexico - Salmon
La Purificadora Restaurant Salmon

Read about La Purificadora Hotel en Puebla in the Hotels and Resorts, Chefs' Recipes, and Restaurants sections.

La Purificadora Hotel, Puebla, MexicoLa Purificadora Hotel en Puebla
Callejón de la Norte No. 802
Paseo San Francisco/Barrio el Alto
C.P. 72000 Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Telephone:  +52-222-309-1920
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

I headed to the airport with  wonderful memories of my visit to Puebla, and took a 7:00 am flight from Puebla on Mexicana Airlines and arrived in Monterrey, Mexico with enough time to have a steaming cup of coffee before boarding a Mexicana Airlines flight enroute to JFK International Airport in New York and landed at 3:30pm.

Yohualichan Archeological Zone, Puebla, Mexico
Yohualichan Archeological Zone

Important Information for Mexico:

The currency for Mexico is the peso. As of October 2009, the exchange rate was 1 US Dollar (USD) to 13 (MXN), and 1 Euro (EUR) to 19.5 (MXN). There are 100 centavos to the peso, and is available in 10, 20, 50 centavo coins, and $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $50 peso coins. Banknotes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesos. The electric current in Mexico is 127 volts, 60 Hz. Time in Puebla is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) - 6 hours from October 25 - April 4, and - 5 hours (GMT) from April 5 during Daylight Savings Time.

Yohualichan Archeological Zone, Puebla, Mexico
Yohualichan Archeological Zone

The official language of Mexico is Spanish. Although many people speak English, to help you learn a bit of Spanish, I have included some basic vocabulary.

Basic Vocabulary English

Basic Vocabulary Spanish

Hello, Goodbye

Hola, adiós

Good Morning

Buenos Días

Good Afternoon

Buenas Tardes

Good Night

Buenas Noches

Please, do you speak English?

Por favor, habla usted el inglés?

I do not speak Spanish.

Yo no hablo español.

I do not understand.

No entiendo.

Yes Sir, Yes Madam; No Sir, No Madam

Sí Señor Señor, Señora; No Señor, No Señora


Por favor

Excuse me


Thank you


You are welcome

De nada

Very good

Muy bueno

Very little

Muy poco

My name is

Me llamo (masculine) Me llama (feminine)

What time is it?

Que hora es?








Esta noche





Where is?

Dónde está?

Where is the Ladies room?

Dónde está el baño das damas?

Where is the men's room?

Dónde está el baño de hombres?

How much?


Expensive, Cheap

Caro, Barato

Too much


Large, Small

Grande, Pequeño or Chica

Open, Closed

Abierto, Cerrado


Health and Emergencies



I am ill.

Yo estoy enfermo.

I need a doctor.

Nesecito un doctor.



I need a dentist.

Nesecito una dentísta.

Chest pains

Dolor de pecho

Fever, Vomiting

Fiebre, Vómito


Dolor de cabeza


Days of the Week
















Meal Time







I am a vegetarian.

Yo estoy un vgetariano

Bon Appetit

Buen Provecho







With cream

Con crema

With milk

Con leche

Juice (orange juice)

Jugo (judo de naranja)


Water (Mineral Water)

Agua Mineral






Food - Eggs, Meat, and Seafood

Beef steak















Carne de puerco




Food - Fruits, Vegetables, Other























Potatoes, French Fries

Papas, Papas Fritas



Salt, Pepper

Sal, Pimenta












Cake or Pie






Ice Cream


Please read other articles on Puebla, Mexico in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Gastronomy, and Art sections.

Read other articles on Mexico in the Destinations section: Riviera Maya, Mexico and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico; in the Adventures section: Adventures: Maya Zip Lines - Flying High in Riviera Maya, Rio Secreto - Exploring the Riviera Maya Cenotes, Riding ATVs in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico, Biking, Kayaking, and Snorkeling in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Swimming with Dolphins in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico, in the Hotels and Resorts section, in the Spas section, in the Restaurants section, in the Chefs' Recipes section, in the Liquor Cabinet - Scorpion Mezcal, and in the Music Scene section: Paco Renteria Interview and Paco Renteria - Gitanus and Oceano.

Visit MexicoFor information on Puebla, Mexico, please visit the website:

Mexicana AirlinesFor information on Mexicana Airlines, please visit the website: or call them at +1-800-531-7921.

© November 2009. Luxury Experience. All rights reserved.

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