Magical Towns of Puebla: the magic of the Misty Mountains

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Cuetzalan, Puebla (Archive)

Discover the nine Magical Towns of Puebla, which are sheltered by a privileged nature and geography, which have allowed them to protect their idiosyncrasy. Nestled in the many cliffs, slopes and reliefs of the Sierra Norte de Puebla , there are nine of these unique sites that share the charm of Puebla. Photos: Courtesy. 

Each Magic Town has its own cultural expressions, mainly because of the ethnic groups that used to inhabit them , because of the Catholic orders that evangelized them and the diverse climates that surround them. Its lavish ecosystems allow travelers to find a wide range of ecotourism activities, from camping to rappelling, zip-lining and swimming. When it is possible and safe to travel again, take a road trip and immerse yourself in landscapes that seem taken from idyllic fantasies. 

Chignahuapan: Christmas spirit

Magical Towns of Puebla

The meaning of its name – nine springs – in Nahuatl seems like a spell, but in Chignahuapan nine springs really emerge that give life to a Magic Town prodigious in crafts and nature.

When it is possible to travel again, you can start your visit knowing the place for which it was baptized: the homonymous lagoon or Almoloya . There you can rent a boat to walk around and contemplate the trout that live there or relax by fishing from the banks of it. This aquifer body is responsible for forming the Quetzalapan and Tulimán waterfalls.

They are less than nine kilometers from there, so if you have an intrepid soul, head there to go hiking, get on a zip line and reconnect with the environment . If you prefer a few days of rest more calm and picturesque, the center of Chignahuapan is ideal. You will find its distinctive craftsmanship: the blown glass spheres. The creativity of the people who work in the almost 200 artisan workshops makes it practically impossible to find two identical designs , yet they produce up to 70 million pieces a year.

Magical Towns of Puebla

The high season for the sale of this craft is from October to December , months in which the town becomes a Christmas village; However, this year was different, since due to the pandemic, direct sales were not possible, but these crafts can be found throughout the year in the town.

It is also unmissable to contemplate its Mudejar style kiosk, which will awaken your inner child, because surely you will want to get on to play. Its vibrant blue, orange and yellow colors are reminiscent of the heritage that the Arabs left on the Spanish and, therefore, on us.

Likewise, an essential stop, regardless of your religion, is the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, an enclosure that houses a monumental work of art. It is a virgin carved in cedar logs 14 meters high, made by artisans José Luis Silva and his daughter Carmen, who worked for 11 years to finish it.

Tlatlauquitepec: a rush in the mountains

Magical Towns of Puebla

The tranquility of «Tlatlauqui», as the poblanos nickname it, is contagious from the moment you set foot in its territory. This Magical Town is ideal to withdraw from the city and find yourself.

The Zócalo of Tlatlauquitepec is small, but it offers excellent points to admire the faithful guardian of the town: Cerro Cabezón, so called because in profile it appears to be the face of a man.

Not to be missed is pedaling through the streets of the center with a bicycle rented from the municipality’s tourist office or walking to find the most coveted corners, such as the municipal market.

There you will find La Jarochita, a typical and substantial food place for breakfasts and meals, where you will enjoy  dishes such as mole and beef broth that are available early.

Magical Towns of Puebla

Once his appetite is satiated, he walks through the aisles of the market to find the peasants who carry their ingredients harvested in their backyards such as corn, beans, green peas, chiltepin peppers and broad beans.

But, if extreme emotions are your thing , head to Cerro Cabezón. This rock formation is filled mainly with pine and fir trees . There you can go hiking or climb its two zip lines, which will take you on a 150-meter long route, each one 60 meters high.

Then go to the Tibetan-style suspension bridge that has the place: it has the same measurements, and from there you can capture the best panoramic photos of the landscape.

Huauchinango: with wooded protection

Magical Towns of Puebla

Sheltered by an enviable nature, this Magical Town enjoys rushing rivers, clean waterfalls, deep dams, ravines and trails offered by the Sierra Norte de Puebla, which in turn is part of the Sierra Madre Oriental. In the Nahuatl language its name derives from Cuauchinanco , which means wall of trees.

If you are a lover of ecotourism, you will love this destination, because here you can practice rappelling, camp, go on a boat or horseback ride or even fish for trout. After a dose of adrenaline and connection with nature, visit the Plaza de la Constitución , which is the main one. In it you will perceive an environment scented by azaleas and roasted peanuts , products sold by local women dressed in petticoats and floral blouses.

Do not forget to pamper your palate with the typical dish of the town: chicken in chiltepín with quintoniles, and the papantla puñete tamales.

Pahuatlán: artisan secret

Magical Towns of Puebla

The inhabitants of this Magical Town have made the amate paper survive as a craft and symbol of spirituality . Unlike other places where it is made, here a local shaman blesses it so that the deity they paint on it comes to life. These papers are used only for ceremonial purposes, so the one you will buy as a craft does not have this treatment.

You will feel the mysticism of Pahuatlán from your arrival, as it is located at the foot of Cerro del Brujo . Once in its municipal seat, you will notice the influence of the Augustinian friars who evangelized the area and who managed to unite the two latent ethnic groups, Nahua and Otomi.

If you like heights, know the hanging bridge at 36 meters high, called Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, which connects Pahuatlán with Xolotla. Due to its location in the Plena Sierra Norte de Puebla, it is also ideal for ecotourism.

On your next visit, you should try the chicales (ants) in chiltepin chili and the pascal tamales , made with beans and peanuts.

Xicotepec de Juárez: Spiritual contrasts

Magical Towns of Puebla

The fog that blends into the mountainous landscape of Xicotepec de Juárez gives it a mystical aura. Founded on spiritual grounds and dedicated to the Mexican god Xochipili, the Xochipila ceremonial center is a mecca for shamans seeking to recharge their energies while making offerings to Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary.  

This formation of stones weighing 13.5 tons is the only pre-Hispanic vestige in the area. However, its importance is so great that, every June 24, this site becomes a destination for healing.

Once with your renewed vibe, discover the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 30 meters high, and then head to the parish of San Juan Bautista , which boasts a Gothic style. Unmissable taste the wine acachul, aguardiente of the eponymous fruit that has the shape of a grape or an capulín.

Zacatlán: the charm of color 

Zacatlan

Famous for the production of apples and cider , as well as carbonated soft drinks of this and different fruits, Zacatlán will make you fall in love with its landscapes.

In three of the exterior walls of the municipal cemetery you will find an impressive vitromural made with tiles and glass, mostly from recovery. It has a brief and sublime explanation of the most representative of the Magic Town: blocks , the Franciscan Conventual Temple, the Valley of the Above Stones , the Floral Clock, the Tulimán Waterfall and the municipal palace.

Take your time to locate the representation of the paradise of Tláloc, the pre-Hispanic calendar and the images of some biblical passages. It was created in 2015 by the plastic artist Trish Metzner Lynch , with the help of Mary Carmen Olvera, a native of the town.

Then, head to the Barranca de los Jilgueros , named for the multiple nests of these birds. In its viewpoint you will be able to appreciate the San Pedro Amatla waterfall in the distance. 

Magical Towns of Puebla

The Historic Center of the city preserves the colonial style with arches and brown tile constructions , as well as a church and a kiosk that are adorned with a floral clock with two five-meter-diameter dial faces.

This was donated in 1986 by Clocks Centenario, a company that opens its doors as a museum to learn about its beginnings and the role of time in the history of the human being. Right there, the automata show is held , a show that was conceived 25 years ago to celebrate Mexican diversity, for which seven Mexican dolls dance to different melodies from different regions of the country.

Atlixco, city of flowers

Puebla

From the Nahua words «atl», «ixtlatl», «co» , which together mean “water on the surface of the ground or in the valley”; Atlixco is known as the city ​​of flowers because its fertile lands are located on the slopes of the Popocatepetl volcano. Its inhabitants boast of having the best climate in the world and it is perfect to contemplate the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Due to its colorful atmosphere, Atlixco is the headquarters of  the multicultural music and dance festival Huey Atlixcayotl , as well as various sites and monuments full of history such as the Ex Convento del Carmen , the Iglesia de la Merced dating from 1680, the chapel of the Third Order. 

Likewise, it is a privileged place by nature, thanks to the springs of medicinal waters that it has and that come from the volcano and the extraordinary climate. These natural benefits of Atlixco make this place the ideal place to take a moment of relaxation with the closest family, either to enjoy a bath in the spas and the beautiful view of the volcano.

Cuetzalan del Progreso

Puebla

In times when natural spaces are more valued than ever , Cuetzalan del Progreso will enchant you, since it is surrounded by nature, waterfalls, rivers and caves where you can take tours; and enjoy the multiculture of the place, since its inhabitants preserve indigenous traditions and clothing, which make it unique. 

In addition to its charming dances and dances, since Cueltzalan is the place where man transforms into a bird and flies with the ritual of the Voladores or the dance of quetzals, blacks and their masked clowns. This cultural wealth will amaze you.

When it is safe to travel, go local and walk the charming cobbled streets of this town and admire the terraced facades of its houses, which is much of its beautiful magic.

Cholula, prehispanic

Puebla

When it’s time to travel and visit Puebla, you can’t miss this beautiful Magical Town of Cholula , an ancient indigenous capital guarded by the Popocatepetl volcano and two beautiful cities, San Pedro and San Andrés. In addition, it is known for combining the living history of a pre-Hispanic town with the architectural and cultural richness of colonial buildings. 

Undoubtedly, the iconic image of this Magical Town is the famous Iglesia de los Remedios, which looks imposing in the landscape from the top, since it is located on the top of what was the Great Pre-Hispanic Pyramid, which in the words of experts, it is larger than the pyramid of Giza.

Among its cultural wealth you will find pre-Hispanic sanctuaries , Mudejar arches, Baroque domes , as well as convents-fortresses, where you will confirm the spiritual and artistic explosion of what is now Cholula. Sample of its great religious architectural wealth is the majestic Temple of San Francisco Acatepec, which boasts an incredible façade made with pieces from Talavera, typical of the region. Anyone who has visited Cholula knows that it has so many tempos that it is believed that there is one for each day of the year.

With the list in hand of all the Magic Towns of Puebla, plan your next trip to these enchanting places, so that when it is time to travel again, you will be filled with all its magic. visit.puebla.gob.mx

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Source: Food & Travel MX

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