Info on Puebla


Puebla, city (1990 pop. 1,007,170), capital of Puebla state, E central Mexico. Its official name is Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza, in honor of Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, who defeated the French forces there in 1862. Located in a highland valley, it is an important agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing center, as well as a popular tourist spot. The site of Mexico's first textile-producing factory, Puebla has cotton mills, an automobile factory, onyx quarries, and pottery and food industries. The city is noted for the colored tiles that decorate its buildings and numerous churches, as well as those of nearby Cholula. The cathedral, built between 1552 and 1649, is one of the finest in Mexico; the theater, constructed in 1790, is said to be the oldest on the continent. Founded c.1535 as Puebla de los Ángeles, the city was historically a link between the coast and Mexico City. It was taken (1847) by U.S. Gen. Winfield Scott during the Mexican War. French troops captured Puebla in 1863 but were ousted by Porfirio Díaz in 1867. Puebla was the center of a large earthquake in 1973 that caused intense damage to the city and its surrounding region.
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Story About Puebla


It’s shame that jitters about travel to Europe had to be the goad for renewed American interest in travel to Mexico. Like the girl next door, who turns out to have virtually everything a young man is looking for, Mexico has always been one of the great – but unsung – travel destinations.
Though Mexico is only little more than a fifth the size of the U.S., it boasts almost as great a geographical, ethnic and climatic variety as its northern neighbor. Its boundaries include high deserts, tropical forests, pine-clad mountains, deep canyons and superb white-sand beaches.
The population is a distinct mixture of a minority of pure Europeans, including many Germans; mestizos, people of mixed European and Indian ancestry who form a majority of the population; and pure Indios, members of tribes that almost 500 years after Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs have quietly refused to assimilate by culture or blood. Mexico’s cities are far from uniform – while Mexico City, nearing 20 million people, is the nation’s undisputed cultural and political capital, cities like Monterrey, three hours’ drive south of Texas, and Tijuana, on the California border, have plunged into trade and entrepreneurship, becoming industrial and financial centers. Even the northern cities’ taste in ball games is different: Mexicans up north often prefer beisbol to futbol.
Mexico’s climate varies from dry heat in the deserts to sweltering humidity in the lowland forests to perpetual spring in the country’s high central plateau. At 7,000 feet, the plateau spares much of the country’s population from the otherwise hot climate they would normally endure at Mexico’s latitudes. As a result, a growing number of Americans have discovered the pleasantness of life in central Mexico, especially in the mountain towns that cluster around Mexico City, albeit at an arm’s length.
One of them is Puebla, perhaps the quintessential Mexican city, founded in 1531 by the Spanish at the foot of Popocatepetl, the great, often angry 17,883-foot volcano at the eastern limit of the Valley of Mexico. Because the Spanish started the city from scratch, it was from the beginning a pure new expression of the new mestizo culture that had been given birth to by Spain’s conquest of Mexico’s Indians only 12 years before.
The town’s layout, based on traditional Spanish city planning, encouraged a European architecture that was soon influenced by baroque elements. To this day, despite incorporating some native Mexican elements in its designs, Puebla is the most European-looking of the Spanish colonial cities.
Because of its location on the trade route between Vera Cruz and Mexico City, Puebla for years was the most important city in the country, and it influenced the Mexico in matters ranging from government to cuisine (the home of mole poblano, Mexico’s most distinctive sauce), scholarship (it established its first university in 1539) to fashion. Over the centuries Mexicans attached various descriptive names to it, including City of Angels (it is said a band of them appeared to one of the city’s founders) and City of Tiles, the latter a reference to the blue tiles that its citizens often used to adorn their homes.
Perhaps the most stirring name they attached to it was Heroic City of Zaragoza, in honor of Puebla’s role in the decisive battle with French invaders on el Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) in 1862. A vastly outnumbered Mexican army of 2,000, sent by Mexico’s pure-Indian president, Benito Juarez, and commanded by General Ignacio Zaragoza, met, decimated and repulsed a French army of 7,000. While the battle did not oust Mexico’s invaders, it served notice to the French that Mexican arms would someday finish the job begun at Puebla.
Today, Puebla, population 1.4 million, is a major industrial city and capital of the Mexican state of Puebla. Despite its growth over the years, the city has preserved its extensive collection of 17th and 18th-century colonial architecture in a 100-square-block area surrounding the old city center. Most of the gems in this historic area are within a few blocks of the Zocalo, Puebla’s main plaza.
Visitors also can enjoy a planetarium, a natural history and an anthropology museum, and the National Museum of Mexican Railroads. Puebla’s combination of history, size, climate and amenities have made it a favorite place for Americans and Canadians to attend total-immersion Spanish language classes. Typically students will spend a month speaking only Spanish while living with Mexicans, emerging at the end with a fairly good command of the spoken language.
In 1999, UNESCO added the historic center of Puebla to its World Heritage List.
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