Puebla was founded by Spanish monks in the 16th century. The historical core with its many churches and monasteries is reminiscent of the colonial era to this day. The turquoise and blue tiled facades of the houses with floral and baroque patterns are characteristic.
Old town of Puebla: facts
|Official title:||Historic center of Puebla|
|Cultural monument:||the “city of tiles”, founded in the valley of the Cuetlaxcoapan – there “where the snake skins are tanned” – among others. with the second largest cathedral in the country with a baroque central portal, the Convento de Santa Mónica, the Jesuit church with blue faience on the dome, the baroque church of San Agustín, the Biblioteca Palafoxiana with around 50,000 books, the Casa de las Cigüeñas and the Casa del Alfeñique|
|Location:||Puebla, southeast of Mexico City|
|Meaning:||an important commercial and religious center of the Spanish colonial era|
Old town of Puebla: history
|1532||Foundation of the city|
|1551||Construction of the Franciscan monastery church|
|1580||Construction of the Casa del Dean|
|1609||Founding of the monastery of St. Monica|
|1649||Consecration of the cathedral|
|1690||Construction of the rosary chapel of the Dominican monastery|
|1847||Occupation by American troops|
|1857||Closure of all monasteries|
|1862||Occupation by French army units and, after a few months, expulsion of the French by the troops of the Mexican independence movement|
|1867||after a short renewed French occupation, it was conquered by the troops of President Benito Juárez|
|1999||earthquake damage to the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the Palacio Municipal, the Museo José Luis Bello and the Edificio Carolino|
Azulejos & Co.
Just twelve years after the Spanish conquistadores first reached Mexico, a settlement with a planned layout was founded in the first half of the 16th century about halfway between the newly conquered Aztec empire Tenochtitlán and the coast, whose strictly checkerboard structure remains to this day recognize is. The church had an important say in town planning, and it is therefore no wonder that dozens of sacred buildings have shaped the city’s silhouette up to the present day.
The new city was fundamentally different from the native Indian villages. What emerged was a “Little Spain in the New World”. Its citizens achieved considerable prosperity in the 17th and 18th centuries, which they also showed in public when they built their spacious houses. Not only overloaded stucco, which reminds a little of the icing on gingerbread houses, but also the decoration with “azulejos”, with blue glazed tiles, seemed to them to be the appropriate stylistic device. Not only neat town houses and churches, even church towers were adorned with glazed tiles. They are all located in the historic center of the city, which is bordered by a dozen or so checkerboard streets. To a certain extent, these divide groups of houses into strictly square blocks.
Dozens of historic houses, each two, or at most three stories high, are lined up in a row of streets. All are provided with a flat roof, on which you can end the evening when the blazing sun has set. The house also has a »patio«, a rectangular inner courtyard that is open at the top. There you can stay comfortably cool during the heat of the day. Shutters made of wood lock out the heat, keep the rooms cool and are only opened towards the evening.
A stroll through colonial Puebla is like jumping into long forgotten centuries. A good starting point is the Zócalo, the city’s main square. Here, under shady trees, some pensioners doze on cast-iron park benches and dreamily listen to the splashing of the fountain. Across the street, tourists have settled down at café tables under spacious arcades to recover from their impressions of the splendor of the city.
The cathedral’s twin towers, the tallest church spiers in the entire country, rise just one block from here. Construction began only a few decades after Puebla was founded; Today, La Catedral de la Immaculada Concepción – the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – is the second largest in Mexico according to softwareleverage. Inside, the filigree carvings of the altars and the choir stalls are particularly impressive. From the outside, the cathedral is in the neoclassical style with a facade decorated with figures of saints.
The most beautiful private house is likely to be the “confectioner’s house”, the Casa del Alfeñique: the facade with a red background is decorated over and over with playful stucco work and blue and white tiles. “Octava maravilla del mundo” – “eighth wonder of the world” – is what the Puebla residents call the Capilla del Rosario of the Church of Santo Domingo, and this does not seem to be an exaggeration, as the rosary chapel shows itself in a splendor that is second to none, because it was perfect lined with gilded stucco, marble and onyx. There is little evidence of humility and modesty. Those who visit this church sooner or later let their gaze wander in amazement, which is caught in magnificent statues, brushes over ornate details and finally tries to identify the Latin motto on the ceiling in the midst of the lavish splendor.