Where to Buy Handmade Artisanal Goods in Puebla
“Typical Mexican flea market.” “Mostly touristy merchandise.” “The same stuff over and over.” The average reviews of El Parián on TripAdvisor are fairly apt. Although it’s possible to find lovely, regionally made artisanal goods at the popular open-air market, cheap knick-knacks abound. Some of its 112 “local” vendors even sell products from countries other than Mexico. “It’s a pretty place, but you have to be observant because there are Chinese wares mixed in and it’s easy to get confused.”
So, where can visitors buy authentic, high-quality artisanías in the city’s center? Below is a list of our favorite craftspeople. At their workshops and stores, you can find clay pots and talavera, glass and silver, and textiles and cigars — all lovingly made in Puebla.
You can hardly walk a block in the city’s historic center without seeing a building façade adorned with talavera tiles. The art of making the now-signature ceramics was introduced to Puebla in the 16th century by emigrants from Talavera de la Reina, Spain. Many colorful dishes, decorations, and fixtures are still made the old-fashioned way by a handful of certified producers in town, including Talavera Armando and Uriarte Talavera. (Tip: To know whether a piece is certified, look for “D04” painted on the bottom.) Both sites offer tours in Spanish of their factory floors, where visitors can learn more about talavera and see how the process of making it unfolds.
Talavera Armando, 6 Norte #402, Col. Centro (222-232-6468). Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Tour fee: 25 MXP per person.
Talavera Uriarte, 4 Poniente #911, Col. Centro (222-232-1598). Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday; closes at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tours: weekdays only, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 50 MXP per person.
The Centro Alfarero del Barrio de la Luz is the only traditional factory still operating in what was once a neighorhood overflowing with pottery makers. Its collective today comprises 15 families, including the Lopez-García clan, which has been working clay into pots, jugs, candlesticks, and other items on the premises for seven generations. People come here from around the state to buy handmade cazuelas for mole — the largest, a campana entera, holds enough to feed 800 people — and other wares made daily from barro. Visitors may also get a glimpse of the giant brick oven in back, where many of the pots are still fired. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza #1403, Barrio de la Luz (222-294-2752). Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday; closes at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Antigua Fábrica de Vidrio “La Luz” is a retail store and museum dedicated to hand-blown and molded glass. The business was founded in 1935 by Victor Martínez Filoteo, an apprentice of Camilo Ávalos Razo, the Poblano who was once considered to be the master of the craft in Mexico. Although it isn’t the site of the original factory, which was located a few blocks away, it is a wonderful place to learn the history of the trade in Mexico — and to buy glasswares, including traditional items made of vidrio verde colonial, or “Colonial green glass.” 3 Oriente #1018, Barrio de Analco (222-242-5338). Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday to Friday; closes at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Although its tobacco and cigar-makers hail from the neighboring state of Veracruz, the smokes churned out by Fábrica de Puros Legendaria are assembled in Puebla. You can watch its artisans in action at its tiny store, located in front of Villa Rosa restaurant. Choose from three types of cigars — regular, Cuban seeds cultivated in Tuxtla, or rum-soaked — in varying lengths and widths. The house recommends the torpedo-sized mulato maduro. 5 Oriente #207, Col. Centro (222-232-5067). Hours: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Manos de la Tierra houses the workshop and flagship store of Giovanni Rangel, a Puebla native who makes jewelry from silver, talavera, fossils, and semiprecious stones like amber, jade, turquoise, and obsidian. His exquisite rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and cuff links are all one-of-a-kind pieces, which he carefully sketches out on paper before forging them in different grades of Mexican silver (925, 950 or 999). Gift purchases are wrapped in colored tissue paper and a cloth bag with literature about the artist and his materials. 6 Sur #4, Col. Centro (222-213-7052), with a second location inside the Presidente Intercontinental Hotel. Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
Weaving has played an important role in Puebla’s history since the city’s earliest days. Although many of handmade items now come from other parts of the state, such as the Sierra Norte and the Mixteca regions, you’ll often find for sale here in the state capital. We recently purchased a beautiful wool shawl decorated with intricate woven patterns at Iquiti, a small boutique that also sells pillows, table runners, dolls, and clothing made by indigenous women and girls from Puebla and elsewhere in Mexico. It’s located next door to a cute café (owned by the same family) that brews Oaxacan coffee.
Iquiti, 5 Sur at 7 Poniente, Col. Centro (222-232-0275). Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday.
Of course, the city of Puebla offers many other places to buy artisanal wares. For arts and crafts, visit the pedestrian area next to the Carolino building (3 Oriente between 4 and 6 Sur). For antiques and flea market items, try Los Sapos plaza (6 Sur at 5 Oriente). For household wares, check out the tianguis in Analco park (5 Oriente between 8 and 10 Sur). Do you have a favorite place to share? Leave a reply with your tips below!
—Rebecca Smith Hurd