Last updated: 03:44 PM ET, Thu May 05 2016

It’s Cinco de Mayo: Pack Your Bags for Puebla

Destination & Tourism | Mexico Tourism Board | Janeen Christoff | May 05, 2016

It’s Cinco de Mayo: Pack Your Bags for Puebla

PHOTO: Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with a parade in Puebla, Mexico. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That celebration takes place on Sept. 16. In fact, Mexico doesn’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which is, generally speaking, a day the U.S. celebrates Mexican cultural heritage. However, the city of Puebla is one exception.

Cinco de Mayo’s significance in Mexican history is rooted in Puebla, where a group of locals and Mexican soldiers triumphed over a well-armed French army on its way from Veracruz to Mexico City. The locals and Mexican military won the Battle of Puebla in 1862 on May 5. This year, Puebla is celebrating 150th anniversary of the victory.

READ MORE: Five Musts To Do In Guanajuato

While most of Mexico doesn’t participate in a celebration of the Battle of Puebla, the city honors the hard-won battle with a yearly civic parade with more than 20,000 participants, including children, students, military members and floats that proceed along Boulevard Cinco de Mayo. Nearly 30 days of cultural arts, concerts, dance exhibitions and more follow through June 4.

Getting to Know the History of Puebla

In addition to the Cinco de Mayo celebration, the city of Puebla has a lot to offer visitors. Puebla’s Cathedral was constructed in 1575 and is a World Heritage Site. The Church of San Francisco, also in Puebla, was begun in 1550 as a convent and was transformed into a stunning temple.

The Biblioteca Palafoxiana holds 6,000 volumes of Tridentine Seminars and was declared a Historical Monument of Mexico by the federal government. In the Plaza San Roque, the El Parian crafts market has been in operation since 1801 and features a variety of handcrafts from different regions of the state. The Main Theater is said to be one of the oldest in America. Several museums around the city feature pre-Hispanic art, Mexican railroad heritage and religious art.

Puebla’s Culinary Roots

Puebla’s culinary traditions are ground in pre-Hispanic and Spanish heritage, but there is also a mix of French and Middle Eastern influences. Mole poblano originated in the city and is now a national dish in Mexico. The region is also known for chiles en nogada (stuffed peppers with walnut sauce), chalupas, molotes (fried corn patties with cheese or beef), pipian verde (green sauce), escamoles (fried ant eggs) and more.

READ MORE: The Best Mole Poblano in the US For Cinco de Mayo

For those interested in getting a taste for making these traditional dishes, cooking classes are offered at the boutique hotel Meson Sacristia and for those looking for just a taste – without all the effort of cooking – head to Puebla’s covered food market.

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