Puebla: land where the stones speak.

October 2015

Believe it or not, in Puebla stones talk

Here the walls have the word, because nothing like listening and be captivated by interesting stories that are raised in the poblano old town, or in Cholula and its archaeological site.

In its vestiges are displayed messages of different content: such is the case of the church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla, in the municipality of San Andres Cholula, whose indigenous motifs express, by themselves, a synthesis of Christianity according to the eye of pre-Hispanic cosmogony.

Dressed with lush and colorful decorations, the inside surprises us by the many and curious angels with copillis or plumes that, far from succumbing to the foreign domination, sing songs with their own identity.

Layer upon layer

With Lulu's artistic sensibility, the passage through these lands acquires evocative and unexpected images. We feel them also when visiting the pyramid of Cholula, dedicated to Tláloc, whose Nahuatl name means -water that falls in place of escape-. Although is mostly covered by vegetation and trees, that make it seem unnoticed, it is said is the most voluminous of the world: from 430 to 460 meters on each side and a height of 66 meters.

Its long history of building, that responds to different cultures and ethnicities, which populated the site, is noticed by crossing the extensive tunnel of 280 meters, a product of various excavations. This timeline is a succession of 6 thick layers overlapped during centuries.

It is estimated, therefore, that its construction began in the Late Preclassic (400 BC-200 AD), but it is up to the Classic when it had the greater boom with the Teotihuacan occupation. Then, it was used by Olmecs and later by Toltecs, which abandoned the place for the 1300 AD. Subsequently, the Cholultecs, subjugated by Mexicas, used to praise the god Quetzalcoat in this site.

The external facade of the pyramid includes a Catholic church on its summit, which was built after the Spanish conquest in 1594. It is said that about 75 years before, Malinche, an indigenous woman who was the interpreter of Hernán Cortés, warned him about an alleged ambush planned by Cholultecs. So almost 5000 to 6000 of them were killed, apparently, with no chance to defend themselves.

Hence, the origin of the word malinchism, reminds us Lourdes, is used pejoratively to those who spurn its origins. In such scenarios, with emotive and dramatic tones, our journey into the past is far from its end and continues to only 7 kilometers away, in the old part of the city of Puebla.

A very high style

Now we walk between houses and buildings of colonial Baroque architecture and, as a distinctive of Puebla, they highlight beautiful finishes in Talavera. Of great tradition and difficult process, this fine ceramic is developed since the sixteenth century. It is a combination of local styles and Spanish techniques, like pottery and glassware.

Among its properties, says Lulu, one is being an excellent waterproofer, plus it hardly lose it color, and it is noteworthy that for long time was a symbol of economic and social status.

As an example, we stop to admire the facade of the current University Museum, also called the-House of Dolls- dating from the eighteenth century. In different colors, these tiles are accompanied by bricks and peculiar human figures arranged in rows, also made of Talavera. According to different versions and legends, they are oriental models with a burlesque look, as the captain, who built it, Don Agustin de Ovando, wanted his residence to be higher than the municipal houses and he achieved it.

Some streets and we reach the Zócalo, where the monumental Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception stands. This enclosure of Herreran style, which corresponds to a sober architecture, was built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

With its 14 chapels, the interior is filled with sumptuous ornaments: from the splendid choir stalls, dated to the early eighteenth century; the altar or canopy, designed by Manuel Tolsá; to other equally impressive distinctives as its organs: the oldest of 400 years ago and other one, a giant, that arrived in 1974.

Just in good time to taste Puebla.

At this point, one can feel lucky to be hungry in poblano ground, as it has a multiple list of typical dishes within reach, but one that bring always the talk is the mole. This delight, already established as the emblem of the culinary culture of our country, dates back to pre-Hispanic times.

With all its variants and legends about its origin and preparation, usually, it presents a combination of different grinded chilies, chocolate and spices, which end in a delicious sauce. Whether you pour it over chicken, tortillas or turkey, as its more traditional style, it leaves an exquisite and unique flavor on the palate.

After an extensive menu, related to local tradition, we take the step to visit the Temple of Santo Domingo, belonging to the Dominican order. Also antique, its construction dates from the early XVlI century.

From the external facade, of a purist style, we could not imagine what we were about to find inside: what it was the eighth wonder of the new world, the Chapel of the Rosary.

Its impressive bathed of gold, as a result of a delicate manufacture in gold leafs, highlights whether in sculptures, columns and arches. Especially in the atrium, which is also made from alabaster and holds the famous virgin. Curiously, in addition to various frescoes alluding to biblical passages of her, only holy women are found in the chapel, except for Santo Domingo.

Now, to close this trip with a Talavera brooch, as it should be, we went to the craft market,- El Parián-Here we enjoyed the ultimate expression of creativity in this pottery, but also delicious traditional sweets, textiles and other attractive designs.

Very well received by the city, it should be noted, and in combination with the funny anecdotes from our skilled guide, only in my dreams are left ancient voices and legendary flavors.

Iraíz Chilanga



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