Roughly 80 miles southeast of Mexico City lies Puebla, a cultural destination beyond expectation. Spanish Catholic churches meet a soaring contemporary art scene in Mexico’s City of Angels.

As the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country, Puebla is a modern city, but the cobblestone streets, museums and UNESCO World Heritage Sites instantly remind you that you’re in a place with deep roots.

The birthplace of such Mexican staples as mole and Cinco de Mayo, Puebla serves as a unique cultural hub, blending indigenous traditions with Spanish colonial influence. It is well worth a visit, with 70 churches in the historic center alone, more than 1,000 colonial buildings adorned with the painted Talavera Poblana tiles for which the city is famous, and a long culinary history that can be explored at restaurants and food stalls alike.

Puebla offers a much more relaxed, almost beachy, vibe than you might expect from a booming metropolis.