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Barrio de Analco, Puebla’s best open-air market

 

Sundays in Puebla are made for walking, especially in the Barrio de Analco. A short walk from the historic city center brings you whirling you through an authentic open-air market: the perfect combination of Mexican kitsch, hand-crafted gems …and the ghost of a murdered daughter.

Barrio de Analco is one of the oldest barrios in Puebla. Its name means "across the river" in Nahuatl, an indigenous language still commonly heard throughout the Puebla state. By 1531 the Spanish had arrived and with their wealth pouring in, the indigenous Tlaxcaltecas were enlisted to build the city of Puebla. Forced to settle opposite of the Puebla center, the San Francisco River became the dividing line between the Tlaxcaltecas and the Spaniards. On one side was Analco and the other was the colonial center. Today it’s cobbled stones and squatty colourful buildings to the east and a tall rise of façades hiding private courtyards to the west, respectively. In 1560 Regidor Alonso de Rivera Barrientos founded the Santo Angel Custodio Parish of Analco, the church that reigns over the neighborhood’s central square. A fountain for drinking water was installed around 1759, and by 1970 a new garden replaced the outdated cobbled square.

Since the sixteenth century the tianguis, or open-air market, opens every Sunday. Today its filled with multi-generation families, camera-slinging backpackers, and young honeymooners. Live cumbias bring the señoras of the neighbourhood out dancing weekly, and proud soap-makers, wood carvers, botanists, knitters, talaveros, painters and cheesemongers fill stalls with unlikely goods. For lunch, there are spreads of mole poblano, quesadillas, pozole, and a variety of Mexican guisos.

Close to the tianguis is the Ovando bridge, where a revengeful ghost is said to be controlling the fate of its late-night walkers. The bridge was built circa 1775 as a replacement for the original Analco bridge, which had fallen into ruins. It took its name from Don Agustín de Ovando Villavicencio, a father of two who financed a large majority of the construction. According to legend, the father’s daughter fell in love with a poor boy but the wealthy father disapproved. One night when the father was away the poor boy visited the daughter in her chamber, unaware that her brother was hiding in the closet. The brother, angry and jealous, attempted to shoot the poor boy but failed. The enamoured daughter had thrown herself between the two men and was killed by the flying bullet instead. Now even angrier, the brother killed the poor boy with his hands. Distraught with the tragedy of losing his daughter, the father soon became an alcoholic. One rainy night when the father was wandering the streets drunk he tried to cross Ovando, but a strange woman forbade his crossing, asking for alms. It was the ghost of his daughter warning him that she would continue demanding alms from all his descendants as revenge for dying at the hands of her own family. Terrified, the father attempted to flee but was mysteriously dragged into the waters below and drowned.

Be careful if passing the bridge after midnight, the hours when the ghostly daughter appears and demands her alms. If you pay, you will pass unharmed. But if you refuse, the legend warns that you may be dragged into the dark waters right behind the daughter’s father, never to be seen again!

 

Know Before You Go
The bridge is always open. The market is open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is most popular and lively on Sunday but can become quite crowded. The market is walking distance from the historic city center, but public transport is available.