The 17th-century Convento de Santa Rosa was originally devoted to Saint Agnes, but the nuns later changed their advocation in favor of the first saint of the Americas, Saint Rose of Lima. With the mid 19th century Reform Laws, all the church's property was nationalized, and under government auspices the building served as a military barracks, then a mental hospital, then a housing complex, before finally being converted into a cultural center and museum in the 1970s. The patio and the kitchen areas maintain a sense of grandeur from the days when this was a convent.
One of the highlights of a visit to the former convent of Santa Rosa is the kitchen, where it is said that mole poblano was invented. The creative nuns combined a wide variety of ingredients to create the signature dish of Puebla: a rich sauce that is both spicy and sweet. It's easy to imagine the nuns grinding the ingredients on a metate (grinding stone), and stirring up their aromatic concoction in large unglazed earthenware pots on the tiled stove. The stunning traditional colonial kitchen is adorned with talavera tile from ceiling to floor.
The Museo de Artes Populares (Popular Art Museum) housed in the former convent of Santa Rosa showcases diverse arts and crafts from the seven regions of the state of Puebla. Within the nine permanent showrooms you will see some of the paintings that originally belonged to the convent, as well as the extensive collection of folk art, among which you'll see textiles, masks, furniture, and pottery. One room is devoted to talavera, and here you'll find some truly masterful examples of this pottery. The thoughtfully organized display gives a glimpse at the breadth of crafts from the state.