Chignahuapan, the Christmas village

Waterfalls, hot springs, lagoons, and deep ravines are part of its natural wealth, but Chignahuapan has more to offer with its friendly people, its architecture, its gastronomy, its festivals and its tradition in the artisan manufacture of spheres.

Chignahuapan is ideal for getting in touch with nature and enjoying a moment of tranquility. Photo: El Sol de Puebla
Chignahuapan is ideal for getting in touch with nature and enjoying a moment of tranquility. Photo: El Sol de Puebla

This Magical Town of the Sierra Norte of the state is full of adventure and surprises; here you will find from the biggest Virgin of Latin America, to the smallest Christ of the world.

These attractions make it a destination where you'll live a relaxed weekend while stocking up on holiday decorations.

THE SPHERES AND THEIR MANUFACTURE

There are more than 250 family workshops and/or factories dedicated to this activity that together produce more than 100 million spheres per year (distributed throughout the country). They are made entirely by artisan hands that express in each of them their dedication and care. When you buy one of these pieces, you contribute to improving their family's economy.

To learn how they are made, visit El Castillo de la Esfera, which began as a small workshop of the Tirado Lozada family and today is the largest spheres factory in the municipality. All year round it offers free guided tours of its facilities. Artisans make more than 900 spheres a day, depending on size and figure. The smallest is half a centimeter and the largest 15.

The process begins with the balloon, when the artisan heats the glass rod to give it shape (round, drop, bell, pears, apple, lunettes). Then it goes on to metallizing which gives it a glossy finish. From there to the painting area to give color, then decorated, if it has a figure or glitter, then the boxing. In case of taking some extra elements (hat, lights, etc.) it goes to crafts, to finish in the packing area.

At the end of the tour, you will go through the Christmas tunnel (you will love it), to visit the store. There are spheres of all kinds at good prices, from the classic ones to the ones with different decorations (grinch, coconut, unicorn) and the most beautiful decorations for your house: lamps, fruit bowls, trees and more.

You can also decorate your own sphere or buy a personalized piece with a photo of yourself inside.

A DAY IN THE VILLAGE

From October to December Chignahuapan becomes a Christmas Village, in the zócalo, rises a tree 50 meters high and a monumental sphere.

The main square is colored by the Mudejar style quisco (the only one of its kind in Mexico) and its parish of Santiago Apóstol, patron saint of the municipality, whose façade stands out for its indigenous baroque style.

In the Municipal Palace is the Cosmogonic Mural that captures cultural, social, tourist and historical aspects of Chignahuapan. To one side of the building is the tourist office, where they will kindly give you advice.

Chignahuapans are proud that Capulina is originally from here, so take a picture of the souvenir next to its statue (behind the kiosk).

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, houses the largest virgin in Latin America (approx. 12 meters) carved in cedar wood by a sculptor from Puebla. They say that she grants the miracle of being able to be a mother, which is why thousands of pilgrims come to her every year. It is located on the Artisan Corridor where there are hundreds of shops that offer spheres and ornaments, handicrafts of clay and wood, typical sweets, liquors, and creams.

Five minutes from the zócalo is the Chignahuapan Lagoon, a quiet place surrounded by palapas where you can walk along trails, practice sport fishing or go for a boat ride.

If you stay in the lagoon area, you can get up early to run or take a good morning walk. There are two good options: the 9 Manantiales hotel and the Márquez hotel. In the zócalo, the Cristal Hotel is the option (in front of the kiosk).

LIVING NATURE

What used to be the hydroelectric plant (1930) that supplied electricity to Chignahuapan and part of Zacatlán, today is the ecotourism center Cascadas de Quetzalapan. The place is a forested area through which flows the flow that reaches the waterfall; it comes from the lagoon, continues through the ravine of the goldfinches and reaches Veracruz.

Quetzalapan has two waterfalls more than 200 meters high, which is right where it ends. There is a viewpoint and the water is dispersed in three falls to form the Tulimán waterfall. If you want to get to this point, you will have to descend 365 steps in an approximately 50-minute walk. The total height of both is 350 meters.

There is a zip line, hanging bridge, rappel, archery, camping area, and micheladas. In your visit wear comfortable shoes and anti-slip.

THERMAL WATERS

They are born in a cave at a temperature of 52 °C and flow through an inactive vein of a volcano until they mix with spring water.

The spa has VIP and general (roofed) areas, as well as two large outdoor pools with slides. You can stay at the hotel which has a pool with jacuzzi, spa, meditation area, and restaurant.

If you're coming by car, round trip, stop at the Sanctuary of the Mushroom (church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), which houses a tiny petrified mushroom in which the crucified body of Christ can be appreciated. The faithful say it is very miraculous.

FESTIVALS

Festival of Light and Life held on 1 and 2 November. Each year more than 6,000 people attend to celebrate the Day of the Dead through a pre-Hispanic show full of magic.

The National Tree and Sphere Fair, from October 27 to November 11.

WHAT TO EAT

Typical dishes like the hole barbecue and consommé, tlacoyos, chicharrón pressed in tacos, chicken in mushroom, rabbit and the bread of cheese and fig. Drinks: pulque and fruit liqueurs.

Visit El Rincón Mexicano, two blocks from the zócalo; Chicnahui restaurant, three blocks from the basilica or El Mesón del Caminante.

WHERE TO STAY

At Hacienda Amoltepec, 18 minutes from downtown. It has 13 rooms, a restaurant, lagoon and offers a tour of the pulque among its magueyales.

Or get away from the town, 25 minutes from Chignahuapan is the hotel "Al Final de la Senda", surrounded by forest with all the necessary services for your comfort. It offers horseback riding, walks through the forest, evenings with a bonfire, zip line, climbing wall and rappel. It has cabins and camping areas.

Source: El Sol de Puebla

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