The City of Puebla
28 Jan 2008
Founded in 1531 by Spanish settlers, Puebla was the principle city of colonial Mexico. The city is located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains at an elevation of 7,000 feet. In the distance, snow capped mountains occasionally erupt into active volcanoes.
Puebla is a place of history and of culture, of grand cathedrals, and of small churches. … It is a place of the rich and of the poor, … a place where large businesses abound along with small shops, and a place with over 100,000 college students.
Cinco de Mayo, … the fifth of May, … is a high point in the celebration of Mexico’s history. In 1862, the battle raged between the French and the Mexicans in and around the fortress stronghold located on a hill overlooking the city. On the fifth of May, the Mexican soldiers defeated the much larger French army. The well-built fort, with its moats, its high walls, and its gun emplacements remain much as they were a century ago. Nearby the heroes of this battle are enshrined for all to see. Across the street from the fort is the mansion of the governor of the State of Puebla.
Also visible from this hill are several Catholic churches and cathedrals. Many of these are in or near the Plaza Principal also known as the “zocalo.” The enormous centerpiece of this plaza is the cathedral built in the 16th century and is one of largest in all America. It is claimed that angels lifted the huge bells up into the bell tower. Thus, … Puebla became the city of the angels. Inside, the cathedral has a pipe organ, … a choir loft, …14 chapels, … many large paintings, … stained glass windows, … and several confession booths. The Virgin of Guadalupe and Mary, the mother of Jesus, are prominently featured here as in other cathedrals in Mexico.
The zocalo is the home of much more than the cathedrals. In Mexico, every town has this park with government buildings on one side and a cathedral or church on the other. The zocalo is a gathering place that is very important to the culture. It is the town square where families come especially on Sunday. On Independence Day, everybody comes here for the festivities and fireworks.
Within walking distance are places to buy food, relax, purchase a variety of religious paintings and icons, and obtain the latest DVD even before it is available in the U.S. Several stores feature the beautiful gowns and dresses that are necessary for the special celebration held on a young girl’s 15th birthday. Close to the hardware store is a place where many types of dried foods are offered including the ever-present hot peppers. For those with a sweet tooth, several shops display an array of delicious candies and cakes.
Talavera tiles are frequently used as a special decorating touch on the outside walls of many businesses and homes. Talavera ceramics and pottery originated in this area and are now world famous. These intricately designed handmade items can be purchased right in the factory where they are made. Occasionally, there is an opportunity to watch the artisan as they apply the designs. These workers spend many years developing the skills necessary to produce works of art.
Sunday is a day to visit the markets in downtown Puebla. Several different markets are available offering all types of Mexican crafts, hand embroidered clothing, fabric, Talavera pottery, onyx sculptures, antiques, paintings, and local China Poblana dolls in native dress. These markets are packed with people looking for that certain item.
For those interested in history, a museum is located in the pock-marked building where the Mexican Revolution began in 1910.
Puebla is an industrialized city with many companies familiar to U.S. markets. Among them is the Volkswagen plant. The Volkswagen is the most common car on the road in this area. Most of these cars, … old and new, … were produced in Puebla. The plant opened in 1964 and now has 14,000 employees. The finished cars are often shipped out in huge trucks.
When you see a new Volkswagen in the United States, realize that it was made right here in Puebla. Whenever you see a “New Bug”, let that be a reminder to pray for the people of Puebla.
Industries in Puebla are large and small, but all are important to the economy. This marble tile factory provides an opportunity to meet some of those who operate the huge machines. Here the blocks of marble are sawed into slabs, polished and then cut. After cutting to the correct length, the tiles are cleaned with acid to enhance surface features. The packaged tiles will be used for the floors of homes and businesses. This business, like many others, has a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
On the other end of the manufacturing scale is the making of tortillas. This tortilleria is geared for high volume production. It has 3 employees working to prepare the corn, mix the dough, and feed the machine that cuts out the tortillas and places them on a conveyer belt where they are then packaged and sold. Other tortillerias located in some of the market areas are smaller. However, they still use an electric powered tortilla pressing and cutting machine In some of the small restaurants, the molding and pressing of the tortillas is entirely hand or foot powered. The output is all the same … delicious tortillas … the staple of the Mexican diet.
With a population of almost three million, a wide diversity exists among the people. There is a strong upper class that is very wealthy and is “culturally Catholic”. These are the professionals who live in gated compounds that are guarded 24 hours a day. Many work in industry, at universities, and privately owned businesses. The lower class represents over half of the work force. They are usually paid by the day and often are observed selling things on the street. These workers earn about $10 a day and seldom pay taxes.
Large families are common starting with the expectation that a child will be born during the first year of marriage. Strong emphasis is placed on the family structure with the man as head of the household, however, machismo is still a reality in the culture. Emphasis is placed on the major events of life such as baptism, first communion, marriage and death. Each event has it’s own set of masses and religious rituals.
There are 365 Catholic churches in Puebla and in the nearby city of Cholula. This area is considered to be the most Catholic in Mexico. The culture here is dominated by Catholic tradition and beliefs, however the Catholic church has lost much of its political power and worship attendance continues to dwindle.
The population of the city of Puebla is made up of 86% Catholic with only 25% of those actually practicing their faith. Evangelicals are about 4% with about 2,000 Mexican Baptists.
< .1% Baptist
Puebla is a beautiful city, but most people live in spiritual darkness. … Will you pray for the salvation of the almost 3 million people living in the city? … Will you join us in sharing the truth that is found in the good news of Jesus Christ?
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
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