Puebla de los Angeles

The City of the Angels

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

One of My Favorite Places in Mexico
What I remember about Puebla is a first trip with my son Mark just out of college.

Later a friend who is no longer with me showed me the best part of her beautiful city.

To sit awhile in the park, browse through the markets, enjoy a cup of strong Mexican coffee in the chilly evenings, or attend mass at the Cathedral.

Puebla is one of my favorite cities.

El Pico de Orizaba.
Esperanza, Puebla
The Road from Veracruz
The first hour out of Veracruz is coastal plains and sugar cane fields until you get to the city of Cordoba.

In the 19th century coffee was introduced in the mountains and has some of the finest coffee anywhere in the world.

About 20 minutes later pass through the industrial city of Orizaba which has a lot of Indians from the nearby mountains of the Zongolíca selling flowers on the streets.

Then a steep climb straight up the escarpment to Esperanza station.

From the normal warm steamy tropical lowlands, all of a sudden temperatures are in the 50´s.

It feels good to get out of the car and stretch at the toll booth, and marvel at the view of the Pico de Orizaba, the second highest peak in North America, after Mt. McKinley.
El Popo at Dawn
Then over the high plains straight for another hour arriving at the big city of Puebla.

Off to the west, at a safe distance are the majestic volcanoes of El Popo and Ixtaccihuatl. Sometimes you can see smoke coming from el Popo.

Puebla used to be a filthy city before the Germans arrived with the big VW plant to build beetles. Now the large downtown area is clean and very Spanish colonial looking.

The United Nations declared Puebla as a World Heritage City. Recently, the name of the city was officially changed to Puebla de los Angeles.
Tall Cathedral Towers
Puebla "de los Angeles"
When the Cathedral was built in 1623, it is said that at the same time the Cathedral in Mexico City was being built, and somehow the architectural plans got switched.

The "poblanos" (as the people of Puebla are called), say their cathedral is actually bigger and more beautiful than the National Cathedral in Mexico City.

In most towns in Mexico, the church faces the plaza.

One of the unusual things about the Cathedral is that the side door faces the plaza, and not the front.

The Story of the Bells
When the cathedral was finished and the huge bells arrived to be hung in the towers, it was found that they were too heavy for the workmen to lift.

They struggled over the problem for several days, until finally one evening they just gave up.
The Bells Lifted by the Angels
The task was just too much

Then the following morning when the reported for work, they found the heavy bells had been lifted and installed during the night.

Nobody could explain how it happened.

Some say the angels had lifted the bells because there was no technology available in those days to perform such a task.

So, the people began to call the city "Puebla de los Angeles". In 2001, the name was changed officially.
Café Aguirre
El Cafe Aguirre
Just off the northwest corner of the Zócalo on the small side street "5 de Mayo" is the Café Aguirre.

I was told by several poblanos that this is where I would find the some of the best Mexican coffee in the downtown area.

Accompanied by Mexican pastries, and rich fresh squeezed orange juice, the coffee, and good conversation with a friend, is a great way to start out the day.
Look at the birdie!
A Walk Around the Plaza
There is a special festive air on the main plazas of the towns and cities in Mexico.

It´s a joy that you can almost feel in the air.

On the plazas of the towns and cities in the mountains of Mexico, the air is fresh and cool in the early mornings, and the happiness is contagious.
The Central Fountain.
A Place to Take the Grandkids
Perhaps it is the crystal clear water in the fountain that makes the plaza attractive.

Or maybe it is like the sound of a mountain stream.

I´m not sure what it is, but there is a special magic that brings out the best in everyone.
Buy a balloon and be young again!
To be Young Again
Balloons are for sale everywhere in Mexico, even in the poorest neighborhoods.

When the man came up to offer me his balloons, I bought one for my friend, and we continued our walk around the plaza that was over 400 years old.

It was as if time had stopped and we were young again!

Talavera Pottery
The Analco Sunday Market
Near the downtown area is what was once the village of Analco.

The village has long since been absorbed by the city of Puebla.

Each Sunday there is a market where you can find the Talavera pottery that Puebla is famous for.
The Church of Santo Domingo
The Churches of Puebla
Even if you aren't religious, you have to admit the churches of Puebla are impressive! It seems like every square inch has some kind of detail, and this church is literally covered with gold leaf from top to bottom. That´s a lot of gold!

The side Chapel of the Rosary off to the left is entirely covered with silver leaf, and is called the 8th Wonder of the world.

The Church of Santo Domingo is dedicated to the saint who originated the rosary which is said faithfully every evening at 6:30 PM.

You can hear some of the sounds of the rosary on Sounds of Mexico.
A Restaurant in Puebla
Puebla Has a Lot
At the end of the day, it´s great to have dinner at one of the good restaurants in Puebla to plan the next days activities.

Puebla has its own style of cooking that is known throughout the world.

Plates like: Chiles en Nogada and Mole Poblano are the first things that come to mind.

One of the best pizzas I ever had was on the plaza in Puebla at a small family owned pizzería.

Delicious food is everywhere.

In Puebla, I barely scratched the surface.

One day I want to go back and visit Cholula and Tepeaca, as well as some of other the little towns nearby.