Puebla is one of Mexico's most well-preserved architectural gems, a candy-cane mixture of bright colonial edifices with over 70 churches condensed in its main historical centre. Set inside a long manufacturing corridor which is dedicated mostly to housing factories of Mexico's booming auto industry, Puebla's buildings are infamous for their adorned azulejos façades (painted ceramic tiles), which would look perfectly at home in Lisbon's street fronts. For a long time, Puebla was one of Mexico's largest cities, and indeed the main cathedral is to this day the tallest in the country, a whole city block of imposing renaissance and baroque architecture and hefty, opaque stone.
But Puebla also blends its tradition with modernity. This is evident in its multi-million dollar renovation of the Museo Amparo, a private museum set across two 16th century colonial buildings where exhibitions of contemporary art and photography are sliced by sheets of glass and steel. The Biblioteca Palafoxiana just down the road is the first public library in the Americas, carved out of cedar and white pine and home to some of the rarest and dustiest books in the New World. A few streets away lies the artist quarter with open-door galleries and the Sapo antiques market. Puebla is well worth the one-hour day trip from Mexico city.