East of Mexico City

East of the capital, the horizon is dominated by the ghostly spectre of two immense volcanoes: ill- tempered Popacatéptl and his sedate mistress, Iztaccíhuatl. Haunting glacial landscapes await those intrepid travellers who conquer the jagged rock faces. For those in search of cultural adventures, the stunning city of Puebla offers a sublime encounter with colonial grandeur. Its streets celebrate the wealth and conservatism of an age now lost, with exuberant baroque churches, crumbling ex- convents, leafy patios, courtyards, plazas, and facades adorned in superb Puebla tiles. The area boasts more ancient history, too: the pre-Hispanic city of Cholula, furiously levelled by Cortés as he marched across the land in search of gold and glory, is home to one of the world's largest pyramids, restored and rising like an aspiring mountain. The modern-day city of Tlaxcala lacks the ancient structures of its neighbours but, like Puebla, has a pleasing abundance of colonial structures, including the Santuario de Ocotlán. For those willing to venture north into Puebla state, the mist-swathed indigenous village of Cuetzalan makes a fascinating and refreshing break from the usual tourist haunts. The highway south, to Oaxaca state, passes notable settlements, including the village of Huautla de Jiménez, where magic mushrooms are consumed like a sacred Eucharist.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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