Located 75 miles east of Mexico city, Tlaxcala is a quiet town with a population of only 50,000 and is the capital of Mexico's smallest state, also named Tlaxcala. This is a small, extraordinarily beautiful, colonial city that was founded by Hernan Cortes and a group of Franciscan friars in1520. The city is easily explored form the main square, Plaza de la Constitucion, around which many of the picturesque colonial buildings are located. The plaza itself is the primary meeting place for locals, with its 19th century bandstand and beautiful fountain that was built in 1646. Dances are held in the plaza on weekends and the music and dancing seem to bring our all of the locals. The 16th century Palacio de Gobierno, directly adjacent to the plaza, contains a series of incredible murals that depict the history of the area. The incredible Templo de San Francisco houses Tlaxcala’s Regional Museum and the Living Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions.
This area is well known for handicrafts that include many different hand-loomed textile items, Talavera style pottery, and hand carved wooden items, especially masks and colorful walking canes. Casa de las Artesanias three blocks west of the plaza is a museum, with shops, where the actual Artisans act as your guide. Plaza Xicotencatl next to the plaza is another location where you can purchase quality local crafts.
The beautiful countryside surrounding the city is comprised of mountains, lakes and even some real desert. There are many old haciendas and some beautiful ranches. Many of of the ranches are where they raise the prize bulls for one of the local passions, bullfighting. There is a large bull ring just a few blocks from the historic center and they fight the bulls sixty days a year in Tlaxcala.
Huamantla, a town 30 miles to the east of Tlaxcala has their local fair every August. One of the special events of the local fair is the Huamantlada, this is Mexico’s version of the Spanish Festival in Pamplona and the running of the bulls. Young men challenge death in order to perceive the feeling of danger and to prove their ability as bullfighters. The fair lasts two weeks, with the Huamantlada being held on the third Saturday of August, every year.