The city is also famous for mole poblano, chiles en nogada and Talavera pottery.
Soon after its foundation, Puebla was well known for its fine ceramics, especially for the style that would be called Talavera. This has been due to the abundance of quality clay in the region, drawing some of the best artisans.
Between 1550 and 1570, Spanish potter from Talavera de la Reina in Spain came to Puebla to teach the locals European techniques of using the potter’s wheel and tin-glazing. These new methods were mixed with native designs to give rise to what became known as Poblano Talavera. The glazing technique was first used for the tiles that still decorate many of the buildings in this city.
We visited a shop where were a lot of beautiful talavera pottery.
Puebla is known for its fine Talavera ceramics--tiles, pottery, dishes, etc. The true Talavera artisans use 100 percent handcrafted methods, and it takes years of apprenticeship to learn the fine craft, be it a pottery maker, a painter, designer, etc.
Two of the most famous Talavera factories in Puebla is Talavera Uriarte and Talavera de la Reyna. We did not get a chance to go to Talavera Uriarte, however we did visit Talavera de la Reyna, which is technically in Cholula, but just a few minutes from Puebla by car.
I will be placing photos on my Cholula pages soon that show the process of making Talavera ceramics.
What to buy: I've included two photos here that show you some rectangular platters (perfect for serving sweets, drinks, etc. to guests, or for display.) The first two platters are similar in color and design and have a very traditional Talavera design. The second photo (click on 1 More Photo) shows two platters with more contemporary designs and colors.
Talavera de la Reyna is a certified Talavera artisan factory, and you received a certificate/tag of authencity with each piece ensuring its high handicraft quality.
Talavera de la Reyna is also sold at the Museo Amparo gift shop and in an artisan shop in Mexico City's fashionable Polanco district.
What to pay: Together, the four platters I purchased cost about $1400 pesos in total, or $140 USD, about $27 - $40 USD each. My travelmate bought a set of 4 place settings of dishes (including plates, bowls, cups, saucers) and some cups. I don't know how much he paid.
At the Sunday market, I was struck by one vendor booth that displayed an array of bright, boldly colored wooden picture frames. The name of the artisan group was Tzopelli. Each frame was itself a unique, beautiful piece of art. I thought to myself that I would like to purchase one or more of the frames, and made a mental note to return.
Well, my travelmate and I ended up leaving the Sunday market before I had a chance to go back to the frames booth. However, later that afternoon, we went to the Museo Amparo. In the museum's gifts shop, I was immediately drawn to the picture frame shown in the photo here, as it seemed to be a perfect gift for a family that I know back in the U.S. To my pleasant surprise, as I pulled the frame down from the display case, I saw that it was made by the same frame maker from the Sunday Market! --Tzopelli.
I was happy to purchase the frame, knowing that I would be able to share a beautiful Tzopelli frame with some friends back home, and knowing that purchasing one of their frames was in some small way helping to support their handicraft business.
What to buy: Tzopelli makes: photoframes, mirrors, trunks, racks, keyholders, tablecloths, cardholders, all of different designs and shapes.
Here is a description from their mini-brochure:
Original of an Incalculable Artistic Value
100% Handpainted Designs
Having as basis the pre-Cuauhtemic (natif) codex language and the oral tradition of our culture, our designs of an international reconnaissance bring a new explosion of life represented by bright colors and beautiful shapes. Tzopelli's works is born from the concern to tell about our Mexikatl culture which dwelt in the region of misery as such as a seed would see again in the light of day of this new era started in 1987, "The New Era of Quetzalcoatl."
What to pay: The frame I purchased was $207 pesos, or about $20 USD. From what I recall the frames at the Sunday market may have been a bit cheaper, but I had not seen the same design at the market as the one that I had purchased at the museum gift shop.
One of the Sunday markets in Puebla can be found along Blvd. Heroes del 5 de Mayo near Avenida 5 Oriente.
There are dozens and dozens of booths and vendors selling local handicrafts, food, household items, etc. When we arrived, we were lured to one side of the market by some music, and had a chance to see a traditional dance with people wearing masks. It was a very festive atmosphere. (See second photo)
What to buy: My travelmate purchased a beautiful mirror made of metal and adorned with colorful Talavera tiles and a leather wallet.
I purchased several woven bags with wooden handles that seemed like perfect "knitting bags" to give to my friends (see photos.) I also purchased a miniature wooden house (I collect miniature houses from different countries) and a ceramic tortuga for my friends who collect miniature tortoises/ turtles.
The vendors take pride in their wares, and it is almost overwhelming to be thrust in this vast area of buying and selling. But, it's a great place to to to shop for your yourself or for souvenirs to bring home.
What to pay: Prices were quite reasonable. My friend's beautiful mirror cost only $250 pesos (about $25 USD)--we'd seen similar mirrors for twice or three times that price back home in the U.S. The woven bags I'd purchased were only going for about $60 pesos (about $6 USD) each, but I bargained with the vendor and bought four for $200 pesos (about $5 USD each).
On Avenida 6 Oriental, you will find 1-2 blocks of shops that sell all types of typical Pueblan/Mexican candies. Your sweet tooth will delight at the vast array of candies made and sold here. I don't know all the Spanish names, but there are candies that I can best describe as:
* Cookies, some sprinkled with powdered sugar, others with cinnamon/sugar, another filled in the center with a caffe con leche-colored type of filling
* Little cakes similar to rice cakes, except made of pumpkin seeds and other local grains stuck together with a honey/caramel coating
* Fruit jellies of different flavors--orange, lime, lemon, watermelon, apple, peach...my personal favorite!
* Camote, which I'm not sure it is made of, but it is very popular. I've heard this name from my Filipino parents, so I'm sure there is something similar in the Philippines.
* Coconut balls and sticks (made of coconut, sugar, condensed milk, etc.) Another personal favorite of mine.
* Various dulces de leche--caramels of some sort.
* The very thin wafers (looks/tastes like Catholic wafer bread), often with pumkin seeds and honey in between
* Galletas that include the very thin wafers with a type of dulce de leche (sweet milk caramel) in between
Oh, so many that I do not know the names of. You MUST take a stroll down the street and shop here.
What to buy: This is a perfect place to visit both on your first and last days while in Puebla. I say first, because it gives you a chance to sample a few so you can figure out what you like and don't like. Last, because it's a great place to buy souvenirs for friends, family and coworkers.
What to pay: I don't even remember, but it was way inexpensive. Very, very reasonable prices for the quality of sweets and confections that you get.
I was looking for a shop in the historic centre that sold sheet music (for piano) of classic Mexican folk songs. After visiting two shops that sold musical instruments and finding no sheet music, I was finally told to try Opus 91.
Bingo! This shop stocked sheet music for not only piano, but also guitar and organ. There were classic pieces (European), modern songs, and yes, classic Mexican music.
Each piano piece was $20 pesos, or about $2 USD, which is about how much sheet music costs back in the U.S. I was happy to find some songs that I was familiar with, as well as others that whose titles were familiar to me, but the melodies not.
What to buy: This shop specializes in sheet music for all types of instruments. They were quite helpful and easy to find.
What to pay: $20 pesos ($2 USD) per piano piece; about $8 USD for a book of several songs.
Talavera adorns practically every building, every patio, every square and even kitchens in the city. It is a type of majolica earthenware, a white and glazed type of ceramic. Although the Spaniards introduced this type of pottery, ironically the term Talavera is used much more in Mexico than in Talavera de la Reina, Spain.
In fact, Talavera is the oldest tin-glazed ceramic in America and it is still being manufactured with the same techniques as in the 16th Century.
Puebla not only was the second most important city in Mexico, after the country’s capital Mexico City, it was the most important earthenware center of the Nueva España, which was the name of Mexico in Colonial times.
What to buy: Talavera artcrafts
What to pay: depends on the size!
This is a nice place to simply take a walk, go to the movies (if you have time), buy some expensive souvenirs and have a fast-food or an italian pizza.
You find almost everything inside it.