Puebla in Mexico is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks largely to its unusual architecture, characterised by the azulejos (painted tiles) that decorate the facades of the buildings in its historic centre. It is one of those cities that encourage you to keep your camera out and ready, because around every corner you find something thoroughly enchanting.
Capilla del Rosaria
Like the Capilla del Rosario, considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. This chapel is located inside the nondescript Templo de Santo Domingo. I walked blindly into church, having been a little jaded by the numerous religious buildings I had discovered on my trip.
But this was quite the unexpected discovery.
The walls and ceiling of the side-room were so covered in decorative artwork of swirling vines, knights, and saints, all complete with gold leaf, that not a speck of blank space remained. I was so mesmerised that I had to escape quickly for fear of my yearning to reach out and touch the Baroque art.
Or like the Talavera Uriarte, a truly enchanting inner courtyard that caught my attention from the footpath outside. I entered cautiously to be entranced by the intricately decorative talavera pottery on display in every corner of the courtyard.
A tiled fountain in the corner was surrounded by flower-pots and vases. Tables were decorated with broken tiles and even the bases of each stair on the staircase was adorned with individual tiles. I had inadvertently stumbled upon Puebla’s oldest talavera earthenware factory, founded in 1824.
The following morning I returned for a private tour of the factory floors.
Uriarte continues to make talavera (clay plates and mugs, vases and flower pots each with their own unique painted design) according to the original 16th century methods and I was introduced to the potters, molding clay on the concrete potter’s wheels with their talented hands, the stencillers rubbing patterns onto refined crockery, and the diligent painters brushing elegant strokes across each piece of earthenware.
I appreciated my last evening in Mexico at Puebla’s celebrated taqueria, Las Ranas. As it poured outside and a viejo street performer packed his drum kit into his grandpa trolley-bag, the energetic cooks sliced my al pastor meat from a roasting spit and served up my last authentic tacos. It was difficult to avoid sentimentality.