It was another lovely morning in Mexico; indeed, we’d been enjoyed nice weather our entire stay with warm days, pleasant nights, clear skies, and no rain making for ease of travel. Our first stop that day was at Cathedral de Puebla, facing the Zocalo and just around the block from the hotel. We’d spend the entire day not more than a half mile from our lodging, making its central location another plus in its favor.
Dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, the front façade, built out of a black limestone, appears on Mexico’s 500 Peso bill and its nearly 230 feet tall towers are the country’s tallest. Construction began in 1550, but most of it took place under Bishop Juan de Palafox in the 1640’s, although it was not entirely completed until 1690.
Although most are similar in concept, there is still something about spending time in these immense houses of god, soaring ceilings, frescoes, and elaborately decorated side chapels all lend to the grandeur, humbling even to those of us with less than stellar religious backgrounds. I’ve mentioned numerous times before how we use the peace and quiet found here to relax and reflect during a long day of being tourists.
Next up was the Bibliotheca Palafoxiana, located in the same building as the Casa de Cultura and founded in 1646 as the first public library in the Americas. It has more than 45,000 books and manuscripts, ranging from the 15th to the 20th century and in 2005, it was listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. It has three major collections: old books, manuscripts, and pamphlets and broadsheets. It also has nine incunabula (an early printed book, especially one printed before 1501) and the oldest text in the library is the Nuremberg Chronicle dated 1493.
Entering the Casa de Cultura we climbed up to the second floor to the library, through an impressive opening that provided our first view, a long room lined floor to ceiling with bookshelves. Although we couldn’t pull book from the shelves, there was a pretty cool tablet-based guide that provided a good deal of information about the library and the more notable items in its collection.
We walked from station to station absorbing the material; for those of you interested in more information about the library’s exhibits I suggest you follow this link to the on-line guide, which will provide you with the same detailed information we got to enjoy.
We left the library and feeling peckish, walked over to a Churro shop we’d spotted earlier in the day, getting an order to fuel our continued adventures. Much as we enjoyed this treat in Spain in 2017, it was a delight to get them here, hot extruded dough deep fried, sprinkled with sugar and then covered in chocolate sauce.
From there it was just a few blocks to Museo Amparo where we would spend a couple of hours enjoying what has come to be known as one of the most important historical museums in Mexico. It was inaugurated in 1991 and sponsored by the Amparo Foundation, which was founded in 1979 by Manuel Espinoza Yglesias in honor of his wife.
The museum is housed in two colonial-era buildings that date from the 17th and 18th centuries, which were popularly known as the Hospitalario. Both buildings were used as hospitals from time to time, and then the one a college for women and the other a refuge for married women. From 1871 on one was the home of the Espinoza family and then, in the 1980’s both buildings were restored and adapted for use as a museum.
Entrance to the museum is an open light filled atrium of modern design where one purchases their admission, a remarkably affordable70 Pesos ($3.83) for the two of us and we entered the facility. The first exhibit you see is a multi-century timeline dating from 2,400 BC to the 1500’s showing historical developments on each of the continents. So you could compare what the Egyptians were doing at the same time as the early Europeans, etc.
The museum’s permanent collection traces Mexico’s development over its history and contains one of the most important collections of pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern art in Mexico, with dates of its pieces ranging from 2,500 BCE to the present day, comprised of figures, steles, altars, sculptures and utensils, from the Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Huasteca, Totonac, Maya, Olmec, Chichimeca, Mixtec and Aztec civilizations.
You work your way through the museum in a one-way direction, viewing rooms filled with various items mentioned above. Towards the end of your tour you encounter the Colonial Area, which concentrates on what was the home of the Espinoza Family, occupying eleven halls that have been decorated to imitate how homes looked during the various centuries of the colonial period.
Our last stop in the museum was the collection of contemporary art, a couple of rooms of that kind of expression that often leaves you scratching your head, objects seemingly piled at random on top of other objects, with obtuse descriptions drawn from a thesaurus of creative terms. Or something like that. Always interesting but seldom making sense to the unknowledgeable or uninitiated.
We finished our visit by heading up the elevator to the roof for a refreshing stop at the café/bar there, where we enjoyed a drink apiece and the amazing deep blue cloud tinged skyline of the city nearby. We talked about the visit we’d just concluded and thought about what to do for the rest of the day, with not much left having exhausted the tourist spots close to us. We returned to the hotel for a bit before venturing out for drinks and dinner. We’ll feature that in the next post.
Cathedral de Puebla: https://www.corazondepuebla.com.mx/descubre/catedral/
Bibliotheca Palafoxiana: https://palafoxiana.com/
Nuremberg Chronicle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Chronicle#Publication
Museo Amparo: https://museoamparo.com/