Puebla is among the top five largest cities in Mexico, and its historic center has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The city of Puebla is large and cosmopolitan and combines modernity with a rich history and culture. There are plenty of sights and attractions for visitors to Puebla to enjoy. Here are ten of our favorite sights:
Puebla's Zocalo, the main city square, is large and attractive with green spaces, statues and monuments. This is a favorite gathering place and on the weekends it can be quite crowded with people strolling, sitting and enjoying some laid-back family time. Buy some cotton candy or other other street food on offer, and grab a bench in the shade to watch the people go by. This is the perfect starting point for a walking tour of Puebla.
The Amparo museum houses impressive collections of pre-Hispanic and colonial art, as well as hosting a variety of temporary exhibits. Its excellent museography and interactive displays make this a museum not to miss. There's also a stunning view from the rooftop terrace.
Visit the museum website: Museo Amparo
The Rosary Chapel in Santo Domingo
The opulently decorated Capilla del Rosario inside Santo Domingo church is a dazzling example of Mexican Baroque with plentiful gold leaf as well as stucco and onyx work. The church was built between 1571 and 1611, but the chapel was added later, in 1690.
Purchasing some Talavera Poblana is pretty much unavoidable on a trip to Puebla. Seeing some of Puebla's master artisans at work will add a whole new level of interest to your shopping expedition. A tremendous amount of work goes into each piece. See the whole process at Talavera Uriarte or Talavera de la Reyna workshops.
Religious Art Museum in the Former Convent of Santa Monica
This convent was kept secret from the Mexican government for 70 years after the nationalization of church property. In 1934 it was discovered and the nuns were turned out. The convent was then turned into a religious art museum. According to legend the nuns here invented chiles en nogada. Recently renovated and restored, the religious art museum and convent are definitely worth a visit.
Palafoxian Library - Biblioteca Palafoxiana
This is the oldest public library in the Americas. The original collection of the Biblioteca Palafoxiana was donated by Bishop Juan de Palafox in 1646 with the stipulation that the books be made available to the public and not just academics. The library has not only the original collection of books but also the shelving dating to the 1770s, and original location in the former San Juan college. There is a splendid 14th century altarpiece at the far end of the library. Located at #5 on 5 Oriente, admission to the library is free.
The Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe
The Battle of Puebla of 1862 in which the Mexican army defeated French forces, celebrated every year as the Cinco de Mayo holiday, took place here. The fort now houses the newly renovated Museo de la No Intervencion. The forts are located on a hill overlooking the city; if you take the Turibus city tour you'll drive by here, but if you would like to visit the museum, you're better off taking a taxi.
The largest pyramid in the world in pure volume, the great pyramid of Cholula, Tlachihualtepetl, is mostly covered in vegetation and topped by a church, la Iglesia de la Virgen de los Remedios. Still, this pyramid and the colonial-period church above it are well worth a visit. Cholula is a twenty minute drive from the Puebla city center. There is a Turibus route that goes by here departing from the Zocalo, or take a taxi.
Popular Art Museum in the Former Convent of Santa Rosa
According to legend the former convent of Santa Rosa is where Mole Poblano was first prepared, and the kitchen is a wonder in itself, completely decked out in Talavera tiles. Now a popular art museum, the former convent is worth a visit both for the architecture of the place and the folk art it houses. At present, the museum is closed to the public for restoration work.
The striking architecture of this all-white building, designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, is decidedly modern, but once you get inside, you'll find room after room of paintings, sculptures, installations and interactive exhibits that explore baroque art and architecture. A highlight is the Angelopolis exhibit with a scale model of the Puebla city historical center, but the museum also contains examples of Baroque art from several European cities.
Museum website: International Museum of the Baroque
Africam Safari is a safari-type zoo located on the outskirts of Puebla. Here you can see animals ranging in semi-liberty as you drive through the various sections of the park. There are elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses, tigers and more. There's also one section of the zoo where you park your car and wander around a more traditional zoo area. Visit the kangaroo section - if you're there at feeding time you can feed one from your hand. Take your own car or catch a bus from the Zocalo.
Visit their website: Africam Safari