Posts Tagged ‘Puebla Ciudad Mural’

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7 Free Things to See and Do in Puebla

Monday, June 18th, 2012

As the nation’s fourth-largest metropolis, Puebla isn’t exactly the cheapest place to pass time in Mexico. However, visitors and locals can experience much of what the city has to offer on an extremely modest budget. In fact, you don’t need to spend a single peso (bus or cab fare notwithstanding) to enjoy various sights, sounds, and activities around town. Here are seven free things to see and do in Puebla, year-round.

1. Visit a museum. Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos is open for free on Sundays.As in most major cities, Puebla’s art galleries and history museums tend to charge general admission, but at least one day a week and one night per month, you can get in free. Most sites here are closed on Mondays and waive ticket requirements on either Sundays or Tuesdays; one important exception is Museo Amparo, which is free on Mondays and closed on Tuesdays. Free on Sundays: Casa del Deán, Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos, Ex-Convento de Santa Mónica, and Museo de Antropología e Historia, among others. Free on Tuesdays: Museo de la Revolución Mexicana, Biblioteca Palafoxiana, and San Pedro Museo de Arte Virreynal, among others. (Note: Sometimes the INAH-run museums will require you to show proof of Mexico residency to waive the ticket price, but they usually don’t.) Meanwhile, the city’s tourism office organizes Noches de Museos (Museum Nights), during which anyone can visit participating sites between 5 and 9 p.m. without paying. The remaining dates in 2012 are July 21, Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 1-2, Nov. 17-18, and Dec. 28; participating sites include Museo Amparo, Casa de Alfeñique, Museo Taller Erasto Cortés Juárez, Museo José Luis Bello y González, Museo del Tecnológico de Monterrey, Galería del Palacio, and Museo Viviente, among others.

The murals in Barrio Xanenetla depict the neighborhood’s cultural identity. 2. Check out the murals in Barrio Xanenetla. Colectivo Tomate—a group of creatives working to beautify the city through a project called Puebla Ciudad Mural—spent more than a year collaborating with residents and volunteers to revitalize Xanenetla, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. The result of their efforts: 55 thought-provoking murals that depict the barrio’s cultural identity. The paintings celebrate its history, its traditions, its storied former residents, and its current inhabitants’ hopes and fears. Start your walking tour at the corner of Boulevard Heroés del 5 de Mayo and 4 Norte and then follow 4 Norte until you reach Plaza Santa Inés. (Click here to download a map of the murals’ locations.)

Couples turn a covered walkway in the zócalo into a dancefloor.3. People-watch in Paseo Bravo or the zócalo. Whether it’s a trova concert, a Mexican wrestling match, a clown performance, a kid chasing pigeons, a flash mob, or a bunch of guys breakdancing, there’s almost always something happening in these two popular city squares. Paseo Bravo (13 Sur between Avenida Reforma and 11 Poniente) has undergone many transformations through the years, serving as the site of a gallows to a military practice field. The public park that exists today took root sometime after 1850, when a statute of its namesake soldier and statesman Nicolás Bravo was erected. The zócalo, or main square (3 Oriente at 2 Sur), was the first city block built by the city’s Spanish settlers and remains the heart of the historic center. It’s a place where people gather for social outings, political protests, and cultural events; you’ll frequently encounter a stage or vendor stalls set up on the Cathedral side of the square. Looking for a quieter experience? Head for the beautifully landscaped park in Paseo San Francisco (10 Norte, next to the Purificadora hotel), which features art sculptures and the archaeological ruins of mills and tanneries that once operated there. The people-watching opportunities abound: The site, which once served as a set for Mexico’s Next Top Model, is so lovely that brides and quinceañeras like to have formal photos taken there.

Part of a Day of the Dead altar at the Casa de Cultura.4. See what’s on at the Casa de Cultura. Puebla’s cultural center (5 Oriente #5) houses several small art galleries, the Palafox library and museum (see above), and the Cinemateca Luis Buñuel, which regularly shows art films. It also frequently hosts musical performances on its central patio and, in late October, a Day of the Dead altar-building competition. Admission to nearly everything is free, and the current schedule of events is posted at the security/reception desk near the front door. Tip: Las Noches Poblanas, the folkloric dance presentations that used to happen here every Saturday at 7 p.m., now take place at the Instituto Cultural Poblano, Sala Francisco Xavier Clavijero (Avenida Reforma #1305) near Paseo Bravo.

On weekends, Los Sapos hosts an antiques bazaar and flea market.5. Browse the open-air markets. Every weekend, you’ll find tianguis, or street vendors, set up outdoors in Los Sapos plaza and in the Analco neighborhood a few blocks away. Start your browsing at the corner of 3 Oriente and 4 Sur, making sure to pass through the pedestrian area between Edificio Carolino and the BUAP’s psychology building, where artists often display hand-crafted jewelry. When you reach Callejon de los Sapos, turn right. Wander a block down the street to Plazuela de los Sapos, where on Saturdays and Sundays, you’ll find an antiques bazaar and flea market. When you’ve finished checking out the woodwork, coins, books, and other curiosities, head west on 5 Oriente, crossing Héroes del 5 de Mayo, to Analco. At the Analco Market (8 Sur at 5 Oriente), you’ll find vendors of artisanal goods, street food, plants, household wares, and a host of other items. Want to see more? El Parian (6 Norte between 2 and 4 Oriente), houses scores of vendors who stock every kind of souvenir imaginable, from traditional candies and (mostly imitation) talavera pottery to post cards, T-shirts, and refrigerator magnets.

TThe 10 a.m. mass on Sundays gives you a glimpse of the Cathedral in its full splendor.6. Celebrate the archbishop’s mass at the Cathedral. Even if you’re not Catholic (and don’t speak Spanish or Latin), attending mass inside this majestic church—built between 1536 and 1768—is worth an hour of your life. The 10 a.m. service on Sundays, usually presided over by Monsignor Víctor Sánchez Espinosa, gives you a glimpse of the Cathedral in its full splendor, with a procession, lighted candles, and music from the monumental pipe organ. The experience is almost like being transported back in time—and, given that 83 percent of Mexico’s population is Catholic, may shed some light on local customs and belief systems. Note that tourism is prohibited during services; if you want to wander around (versus attend mass), you’ll need to visit during the designated hours, which are Mondays through Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 4:45 p.m., unless otherwise posted. All visits, of course, are free.

7. Run, walk, or bike the streets downtown. Most Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon, city officials close certain avenues to vehicle traffic and welcome residents and visitors to enjoy the streets of the historic center on foot or on human-powered wheels. This Gran Vía ReCorre Puebla leads participants from the Fuente de los Frailes (Avenida Juárez at Blvd. Atlixco) to the Teatro Principal (6 Norte at 8 Oriente). See link for complete 2012 schedule and route map. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a place to exercise outdoors the rest of the week, here are a few options.
—Rebecca Smith Hurd

What’s your favorite free activity in Puebla? Share your suggestions and recommendations with us by replying below.

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Murals Revitalize One of Puebla’s Oldest Barrios

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Photograph courtesy of Puebla Ciudad MuralColectivo Tomate — a group of young creatives who seek to “generate social projects that benefit the city of Puebla using art as their flag” — last year began working to revitalize Xanenetla by painting murals that vividly depicted the neighborhood’s identity. In the first two stages of the project, dubbed Puebla Ciudad Mural, some 30 artists produced more than two dozen paintings celebrating the barrio’s history, its lost traditions (and a few that remain), its storied former residents, and the hopes and fears of its current inhabitants. In the third and final stage of the project, which is currently under way, Colectivo Tomate and its volunteers plan to paint even more murals, bringing the total count to 55.

“This project was created by citizens and for citizens,” organizers say. “Puebla Ciudad Mural is an example of people working together for their city, bringing together hearts, minds, hands, and efforts for their neighbors.”

The murals are divided into three themes: Who We Were, Who We Are, and Who We Want to Be.

The history of Xanenetla dates back to end of the 17th century, when it was founded by Tlaxcaltecas who relocated to Puebla to work in construction. The site, which was the last indigenous settlement along the San Francisco River, was chosen for its location: a hillside from which people could extract the mud needed to make bricks. The Tlaxcaltecas called this mud xalnene, from which Xanenetla gets its name. The settlement gradually stretched across the river and later became part of the city of Puebla. In the 1970s, the San Francisco River was diverted into an underground tube (to make way for Boulevard 5 de Mayo) and later the Calzada Zaragoza thoroughfare was built, leaving the emblematic neighborhood relatively isolated from the rest of Puebla’s urban core.

Photograph courtesy of Puebla Ciudad MuralAccording to local lore, the barrio played a role in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. When Napoleon III’s troops tried to flee the fighting through Xanenetla, they got lost in its alleys — and were captured. Mexico’s initial victory in Puebla, which was ultimately occupied by the French for five years (1862–67), is considered to be one of the more significant moments in North American war history, in part because Mexico’s unexpected triumph in Puebla likely prevented the French from reinforcing the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo.

In 1987, UNESCO declared 600 blocks of Puebla’s historic city center — including Xanenetla — as a World Heritage Centre. The Xanenetla barrio today is visually unique, mixing 16th- and 17th-century architecture with the contemporary urban art of Puebla Ciudad Mural.

Photograph courtesy of Puebla Ciudad MuralEach muralist — some local, some from other parts of the world — is carefully chosen an assigned a facade. The artist gets to know the neighborhood and the family who lives or works in that particular building and then creates a design that speaks about both, a process that engages everyone in the project. The larger goals are to unite the community and to instill a renewed sense of pride in the neighborhood, a desire to beautify the area, and a new appreciation for its history. Over the long term, Puebla Ciudad Mural aims to reactivate the economy and rebuild the neighborhood through its public spaces.

If you’d like to help paint the latest murals, Colectivo Tomate and its volunteers will be working alongside local residents April 7 to 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All you need to do is show up. The inauguration of the new artwork is set for April 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Update: For more photographs of the murals and images from the event, click here.)

You may also visit Xanenetla to see the murals anytime. Start your walking tour at the corner of 4 Norte and Boulevard 5 de Mayo. From there, let the murals guide you along four blocks filled with history and color. Or download this map.

—Vica Amuchastegui and Rebecca Smith Hurd

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