The Biblioteca Palafoxiana, besides being drop-dead gorgeous (if you can say that about a library), is considered to be the first library of the Americas. It’s named after Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Puebla’s bishop and a voracious reader who donated his own collection of 5,000 books to the Colegio de San Juan with the stipulation that they be made available to the public. The collection now includes over 45,000 books and manuscripts, ranging from the 15th to the 20th century. The guided tours given by the library’s docents are quick, entertaining, and highly recommended.
La Pasita has been part of Puebla City since 1916 and was originally a local grocery called El Gallo de Oro. This bar and liquor store specializes in making homemade liqueurs, particularly the one it’s named after—La Pasita, a raisin-flavored sweet liqueur served with a hunk of aged, salty cheese on a toothpick. We know it sounds odd, but trust us on this one. On most afternoons, the cantina is packed, with guests crowding around its few tables. If you can’t find a seat, you can always take a bottle to go.
Though many will argue the claim that mole was created in Puebla, there is no doubt that Mexico’s creamy, rich sauce made of numerous ingredients is now one of Puebla’s biggest exports. Mole can be found in most traditional restaurants throughout the state, including tiny mom-and-pop fondas, each with its own personal recipe. In Puebla City you can also visit some of the city’s mole grinders where folks come to get large quantities of the sauce. Just the smell in the air will make you hungry.
Puebla’s colonial nuns had a lot of time on their hands and apparently a flair for cooking. They are said to have created some of Mexico’s most iconic dishes, including mole, chiles en nogadas, and Puebla’s famous traditional candies made of pumpkin seeds, candied nuts, marzipan, and sesame. If you have a craving for something sweet, head down to Calle Santa Clara in Puebla’s Centro Histórico to visit some of the city’s oldest candy manufacturers and shops (where you’ll also find plenty of free samples).
Visitors don’t necessarily think of Puebla City as a place to live it up and indulge in luxury, but the city has some of the nicest luxury hotels outside of Mexico City. Try the Rosewood for elegance with a traditional feel, the Purificadora if you’re looking for modern decadence, and Casareyna for desert hospitality.
Imagine your next newlywed friends opening up a box of gorgeous talavera pottery that you brought to them all the way from Mexico. What could be a better gift? In Puebla City, you can buy these ceramic masterpieces directly from certified workshops and see the artists at work, though you can find reasonably priced pieces throughout the state. The range of talavera styles and colors will astound you.
A story of star-crossed lovers tells us that Popocatépetl is still mourning the death of his love, which is why he refuses to be silent, spewing out ashes and rocks every few months from the northern edge of Puebla’s city limits. This volcano and its partner (Iztaccíhuatl) can be found in the national park that bears their names, the latter of which can be trekked by experienced climbers looking for adventure.
You might not see it, but located under a grass-covered mound topped like a wedding cake by a canary yellow Catholic church is the world’s widest pyramid. Measuring 1,300 by 1,300 feet (400 by 400 meters), Tlachihualtepetl (its native Maya name) is thought to have been socially and economically connected to the nearby Teotihuacan peoples and was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, the feather-serpent god worshiped by the ancient indigenous poeples of the Valley of Mexico.