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Tips for your next vacationRead more editorials
If you visit the city of Tlaxcala, you'll be surprised by the picturesque landscape of colorful houses, with bright colors, reds and yellows, as well as an interesting combination of well-preserved colonial buildings which date back to the 16th century. You can also find a little piece of nature, extreme sports like rappel or mountain biking, some pretty interesting ecosystems and sits near a volcanic axis that cuts across the center of Mexico from east to west.
Before Hernan Cortez's arrival to Tlaxcala, the area was already divided up into dominions among which were Tepeticpac, Ocotelulco, Quiahuixtlan and Tizaatlan. When the Tlaxcaltecan armies fought the Spanish, a military alliance was signed on September 23, 1519 which eventually led to the fall of the Tenochtitlan Empire. "The Very Noble and Loyal City of Tlaxcala" was founded by Hernan Cortez in 1525 and to this day, you can still find buildings that date back to the 16th and 19th centuries.
Tlaxcala is the capital of the smallest state of the Republic. Don't think that because of this, you can see this state would make for only a day trip. On the contrary, its cultural, historical and natural richness, museums, historical monuments and the Cacaxtla Archeological Zone (an impacting legacy of the Olmec-Xicalanca culture) are some of the many sites this state offers its visitors.
You can tour the city on foot or on a tram ride, which was the main form of transport for the citizens of Tlaxcala in the 19th Century. The trams went to Puebla, San Pablo Apetatitlan and Santa Ana Chiautempan and can now take you to the Historic Center, the Sanctuary and the Basilica of the Virgin of Ocotlan.
After soaking in the history and the colonial architecture, take a step out of Tlaxcala city and into Tlaxcala state, where you can find mountains, cascades, gorges and a blue sky.
The Tlaxcaltecan cuisine is abundant in corn, which in the past was considered to have divine origin. From this origin, there is the word "tlaxcalli" which means "the place of tortillas". Other typical ingredients of this region include the nopal and maguey. You can visit colorful restaurants and bars where we recommend the Tlaxcalteca Soup, Cream of Huitlacoche or Tocatlan Chicken.
Tlaxcala also offers artistic renditions with pre-Hispanic influences, such as the weaving loom which are still used to make multicolored serapes. The techniques used are very traditional, especially in making "alebrijes", Talavera ceramic and carved canes made of huejote wood. Many of these products can be found in the markets.
At the end of your journey, you will find to your surprise that the smallest state of the country is host to various cultural influences, unique architecture and so many attractions that will, without a doubt, take longer than a day to see.
As in all colonial cities, there will always be a plaza. The Plaza de la Constitucion is known for its enchanting kiosk that was built in the mid 1800s and for the Fountain of Santa Cruz, built in 1646. Walking to the north, you will find the Governmental Palace, built in 1545, with its original portico decorated with cempasuchil flowers (Aztec marigolds), Arabic-style arches and important murals that narrate the history of the state.
The Parroquia de San Jose has a very impressive baroque facade, made of mortar and Talavera ceramic tiles. The Portal Hidalgo, the Portal Chico and the Ex-Convent of the Franciscan Order of Our Lady of Assumption represent some of the excellent architectural examples you can find and should not miss.
A must-see while in Tlaxcala is the Basillica and Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ocotlan, a pure example of Baroque architecture. It is considered one of the most important religious centers in all of Mexico and the main attraction of this building is the Camerin, which dates back to 1541, where the Virgin is dressed for important religious ceremonies.
This short cultural trip is a sample of all that Tlaxcala has to offer. Without a doubt, it is a site of cultural heritage for Mexico and the world.