What to See in Baroque Puebla
Puebla’s exuberantly detailed, intricately ornamented buildings are must-see masterpieces. The director of the city’s new Museo Internacional del Barroco takes us on a tour.
Filigreed cupolas and colorfully patterned domes pierce the skyline of Puebla, Mexico, one of the best preserved colonial centers in the New World. A UNESCO-protected exemplar of the Spanish-American Baroque era, it’s fittingly home to the new Museo Internacional del Barroco (MIB), opened in 2016 and designed—in decidedly modern style, with undulating concrete walls—by Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito.
Puebla owes its resplendent architecture to geography. In the 17th century, the city became the commercial crossroads of the Spanish Viceroyalty in the Americas, centered between Acapulco, where ships departed westward to the Spanish-controlled Philippines, and Veracruz, where eastbound cargo left for Spain via Cuba. Puebla’s buildings were covered in multihued talavera ceramic tiles, using a glazing technique that Spanish craftsmen taught to indigenous artisans.
The MIB explores the idea of Baroque as a style not just limited to the 17th and 18th centuries, but one that remains relevant in contemporary culture. Jorge Alberto Lozoya, the museum’s director, goes as far as to call the 21st century a Neo-Baroque era thanks to what he calls its ” fascination for the playful and extravagant.” And he positions the city’s heritage as a cornerstone of national pride: “For Mexicans, it is important to become familiar with these historical events, which help to understand the significant role that our country occupies today in the world economy.”
Here, Lozoya shares his take on the city’s most significant Baroque buildings, and why they matter today: