The historical and cultural value of the city of Puebla architecture is a major reason the city was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Various styles and techniques such as Baroque, Renaissance, and Classic are represented here in over 5,000 buildings included in the catalog.
The Historic Center of Puebla is full of churches, monasteries, and mansions, mostly built of gray cantera stone, red brick, and decorated with multicolored tiles in Talavera style. Puebla is also considered the “cradle of Mexican Baroque” both in architecture and in the decorative arts, and one of the five most important colonial cities in Mexico.
The Main Square (Zocalo)
The Main Square of Puebla remains the cultural, political, and religious center of Puebla. It was the first quarter to be laid out, from which the rest of the Historic Center was staggered.
This Main Square was originally rectangular but was later made square because the earlier version was considered ugly.
Until the end of the 18th century, it was the main market of the city of Puebla, and for most of the colonial period, this place was the main source of drinking water through a fountain installed in the center o the square in the middle of the 16th century.
Many political and cultural events have been and continue to be held here. Bullfights were held in the main square from 1566 to 1722.
Today, the Zocalo is a forested square with a number of sculptures, but the most famous is the sculpture of the Archangel Michael, an 18th-century fountain installed in the Zócalo in 1777.
Many notable buildings surround the Zócalo, including the City Hall (Municipal Palace), the House of the Dolls (Casa de Los Muñecos), and the Cathedral. Most of the streets in Puebla City are named on a numbering system, which centers on the northwest corner of the Zocalo.
The Cathedral of Puebla City took 300 years to build, partly due to interruptions in its construction. The construction of the Cathedral was begun in 1575 by order of Philip II of Spain by the architects Francisco Becerra and Juan de Cigorondo.
The building was consecrated in 1649, although only half the walls and most of the roof were missing, and the towers had not yet been built. The north tower was added in 1678 and the south tower in 1768.
The shape of the Cathedral is a Latin cross and consists of five naves. The main altar is octagonal in shape, while the other four are oriented to the cardinal directions. The complex consists of fourteen chapels in various styles with numerous artistic works such as the main dome and the main altar, both decorated by Cristobal de Villalpando.
The façade is classified as Late Baroque in transition to Neoclassical, with Doric and Corinthian columns. At just under 70 meters high, its bell towers are the tallest in Mexico. The seats in the choir are made of wood, onyx, and ivory in Moorish design.
Both organs were donated by Charles V. Numerous onyx statues of saints and angels can be seen in the crypt under the cathedral.
The façade of the Municipal Palace of Puebla is made of gray cantera stone in Renaissance style, using Ionic columns and pediments, differing from the other buildings that border Main Square. The portal consists of two levels, crowned with a central attic, in which there is a clock and towers on each side.
Casa del Deán
The Casa del Deán is the oldest noble house in the city of Puebla, built by Tomás de la Plaza Goes, who was a deacon of Puebla Cathedral. It was completed in 1580. The building remained largely intact until 1953 when it was about to be demolished to build a cinema.
Protests to save the building because of its frescoes and façade were successful. The murals are frescoes that are the only surviving non-religious examples from the 16th century in their original location in Mexico. The gray stone façade is perfectly smooth to highlight the main portal, of Renaissance style. The portal contains the upper and lower parts with a crest.
Main Theater of Puebla City
The main theater of Puebla was opened in 1761 by Miguel de Santamaria. The theater burned down in 1902 and was rebuilt in 1940 and then again in 1998. The theater hosts cultural events and art shows featuring regional, national, and international artists.
ex Monastery of San Francisco
The Church and ex Monastery of San Francisco has situated on Blvd Heroes del 5 de Mayo. Its elevated four-level tower stands out with its moldings and Ionic and Doric pilasters. The main façade is done of gray cantera stone which is sculpted with large jars and flowers.
The main portal is of Churrigueresque style, flanked by large panels of tilework surrounded by Plateresque decoration. Inside is a Plateresque choir, Neoclassic altarpieces, and the mummified body of the beatified Sebastian de Aparicio.
El Parian handicraft market is an arts and crafts market, within walking distance of the Main Plaza. It consists mostly of permanent stalls but there is an area provided for vendors who visit and sell their wares on blankets spread on the ground.
Church of Santo Domingo
The main portal of the Church of Santo Domingo is of pure classic style finished in gray cantera stone. It consists of three levels with paired Doric-like columns. The façade of the old monastery is highly decorated in Baroque style, in front of which is a large atrium.
Inside the ceiling consists of two large vaults and contains gilded altarpieces in Baroque, Salmonic, and Churrigueresque styles.
Chapel of the Rosario
The Chapel of the Rosario is located in the Church of Santo Domingo. The Chapel was built between 1650 and 1690 and was the first to be dedicated to the Our Lady of the Rosary.
The chapel is filled with symbolism, as it is filled with images and elements which are representative of the Baroque of New Spain. This symbolism is principally meant to aid with the evangelization process.
The chapel contains three themes important to the Church, the mysteries of the rosary, the virtues associated with it, and the Virgin of the Rosary herself. The cupola is in the shape of the crown of the Virgin Mary.
The chapel is decorated with sculpted plaster that has been gilded done by local artists. There are also six paintings done by José Rodriguez Carnero as well as paintings by the altar depicting the life of the Virgin.
Fountain of the China Poblana
The Fountain of the China Poblana is located on Blvd Heroes de 5 de May. It is a monumental work done in cantera stone and Talavera tile, with a base of about thirty meters in diameter. In the center is a column that supports two large bowls and a sculpture of the China Pobalana which is over three meters high.