What you need to know
The city of Puebla is the fourth largest city in Mexico with 2.1 million inhabitants and the Capital of the State of Puebla. It was founded on April 16, 1531 as “La Puebla de los Ángeles”. It was the first city in central Mexico founded by the Spanish conquistadors that was not built upon the ruins of a conquered Amerindian settlement. Its strategic location, between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City, made it the second most important city during the colonial period. During the seventeenth century, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz lived in the city until her confrontation with the Bishop of Puebla.
The city’s main claim to fame, however, is Cinco de Mayo, a festival commemorating the May 5, 1862 defeat of a French expeditionary army by Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza. It was after this battle that the name of the city was changed to “Heróica Puebla de Zaragoza”. The forts where the battle took place are a major tourist attraction of the city and the site of an annual month-long carnival marking the anniversary of the battle. The city is also famous for its cuisine, being said it is this city where “Mole” -a famous Mexican spicy thick sauce- was invented.
Population: 1.434 million(2010)
Area: 34,306 km²
The Mexican peso is the standard currency used in Mexico. 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 peso bills are most often used but you will occationly see a 1000 peso note. Peso coins are in denominations of $1 $2, $5, and $10 pesos, there is also limited edition $20 peso coin in circulation.
Puebla has many different climates owing to its range of altitudes. It has an average temperature of 16 °C (61 °F) but this varies greatly locally. There is a rainy season from May until October with an overall precipitation of 801 mm (31.54 in). The state has eleven different climate zones, but five predominate. The centre and south of the state has a temperate and semi-moist climate, with an average temperature of 15 °C (59 °F) and 858 mm (33.78 in) of rainfall. The southwest has a warm to hot and semi-moist climate with 830 mm (32.68 in) of precipitation and 22 °C (72 °F) average temperature. The north is also warm and hot, and additionally very wet; it has a 22 °C (72 °F) average temperature but with an average rainfall of 2,250 mm (88.58 in). The southeast is semi-dry with warm and temperate temperatures, having an average temperature of 22 °C (72 °F) and precipitation of 550 mm (21.65 in). The high volcano peaks have a cold climate.
The Central Puebla Nahuatl language is a Nahuan language spoken by 16,000 people in Mexico with 1,430 monolinguals. It is also known as Central Puebla Aztec, Náhuatl del Suroeste de Puebla, and Southwestern Puebla Nahuatl. The language is spoken in the area south of the city of Puebla in the towns of Teopantlán, Tepatlaxco de Hidalgo, La Magdalena Yancuitlalpan, Atoyatempan, Huatlathauca, and Huehuetlán near Molcaxac. It is written in the Latin script and is taught in most grammar schools of the area.
Drink bottled water and be careful with valuables in public.
You will rarely see locals wearing shorts, doing so will identify you as a tourist. Jeans are generally acceptable, except perhaps in some of the nicer restaurants.
If you are staying in a hotel and you want to take a taxi, someone working the front desk will most likely be able to call and arrange for a cab to pick you up, or you can hail one off the street if you speak enough Spanish to be able to negotiate the price with the driver. In Puebla, there are a multitude of taxis but your best bet will be a radio taxi.
The radio taxis are the best cabs in appearance and since they are registered they are also the safest, but they tend to charge more: about $10 MXN more than if you hail one on the street. If you run into a friendly cab driver, it is a good idea to get his cell phone number, so you can call whenever you need safe transport.
You could protect your budget by speaking to the sellers (especially the street ones) in Spanish, because most of them offer higher prices to foreigners who may not know the real prices of the products. Like in many other urbanized places in Mexico, Uber is widely present and highly affordable. It is much more accountable than traditional taxis and the benefits are obvious: you get your driver’s name, car’s license plate number, an email receipt with a map of your ride, and you don’t have to explain the directions.
The current division of the territory was created in 1895, which is a system of 21 districts and 217 municipalities. This is down from a high of 222 because the municipalities of San Jerónimo Caleras, San Felipe Hueyotlipan, San Miguel Canoa, La Resurrección, and Totimehuacan were incorporated into the city of Puebla in 1962.
The state is headed by a Governor who is directly elected. The executive branch of the government contains the following departments: Governing (Gobernación), Finance, Development, Evaluation and Control of the Public Administration, Economic Development, Tourism, Rural Development, Urban and Ecological Development, Communications and Transportation, Health, Public Education, Culture and Public Defender (Procuraduia General de Justicia). The legislative branch is unicameral with deputies or representatives elected from the various districts of the state. It also consists of a number of commissions dedicated to issues such as state heritage sites, education, agriculture and more.The judicial branch is headed by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia.
Puebla City has many universities, second in the country only after Mexico City. The city is home for one of the most prestigious private universities in Mexico and Latin America the Universidad de las Americas Puebla (UDLAP). Some local public universities are: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) is the oldest and largest university in Puebla, founded on 15 April 1587, and Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla.
Traveling within Puebla can sometimes be stressful as the local public transportation system is entirely privatized, leading to hundreds of bus routes, none of which are mapped out. If you know where you are going, you can ask around as to which route will take your destination, but often transfers are necessary for long-distances, which can be confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the language. The general fare rate is $6 MXN. (Safety note about buses: they are generally safe, but they tend to carry pickpockets, especially when crowded. Always have a hand over any bags/backpacks that you have.) The buses generally run from about 7AM to 10PM.
Taxis are naturally more expensive, but in Puebla they are deemed safer. They tend to run between $40-80 MXN for a ride. Negotiating a fare before entering a taxi is normal as the taxis do not carry meters in Puebla. If the driver does not offer you a fare that you like, you can always just wave them off and wait for the next taxi.