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Papantla

Veracruz

The solid Totonaca cultural roots and vanilla perfume made this small Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) in the northern Veracruz famous all over the world.

Located about 30 minutes by road from Poza Rica and about 270 kilometers (167 miles) from Xalapa, Papantla de Olarte is a charming corner that has given last name to two attractions that are a magnet for travelers from all over the world: Papantla's vanilla and Los Voladores de Papantla (Papantla’s Flyers).

Papantla’s vanilla, called xanath by the “Totonacos”, is the ripe fruit of an orchid native to this area (Vanilla planifolia) whose powerful perfume is highly appreciated in the kitchen as it enhances the flavor of desserts and cakes. The product has also been protected by the Denomination Origin since 2009.

Meanwhile, the colorful and risky dance of the Voladores de Papantla is an ancestral rite related to the cycles of agriculture and declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2009. During the dance, five beautifully dressed men climb to a pole’s top—four will be bird-men that go down spinning around the pole tied by a rope, while the “caporal” (foreman) will stay at the top beating his wooden drum and blowing a small flute made of reed.

Each flyer rotates around the pole 13 times, adding 52 turns in total—a sacred number since each year it has 52 weeks and after them a new sun is born and, also, every 52 years a solar cycle is completed. Although today it’s possible to enjoy this ritual in different parts of the country, nothing compares to appreciating it in the place where it was born.

In Papantla you can also see other greatly colorful dances, such as that of the “guaguas”, they use huge circular plumes adorned with feathers to worship the sun, and also the dance of the “negritos”.

On the other hand, those who come to Papantla in search of vanilla aroma and its colorful traditions, must go even further back in history and visit the archaeological site of El Tajín, a must see one, whose niches give its architectural structure an unmistakable profile.
The solid Totonaca cultural roots and vanilla perfume made this small Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) in the northern Veracruz famous all over the world.

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Located about 30 minutes by road from Poza Rica and about 270 kilometers (167 miles) from Xalapa, Papantla de Olarte is a charming corner that has given last name to two attractions that are a magnet for travelers from all over the world: Papantla's vanilla and Los Voladores de Papantla (Papantla’s Flyers).

Papantla’s vanilla, called xanath by the “Totonacos”, is the ripe fruit of an orchid native to this area (Vanilla planifolia) whose powerful perfume is highly appreciated in the kitchen as it enhances the flavor of desserts and cakes. The product has also been protected by the Denomination Origin since 2009.

Meanwhile, the colorful and risky dance of the Voladores de Papantla is an ancestral rite related to the cycles of agriculture and declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2009. During the dance, five beautifully dressed men climb to a pole’s top—four will be bird-men that go down spinning around the pole tied by a rope, while the “caporal” (foreman) will stay at the top beating his wooden drum and blowing a small flute made of reed.

Each flyer rotates around the pole 13 times, adding 52 turns in total—a sacred number since each year it has 52 weeks and after them a new sun is born and, also, every 52 years a solar cycle is completed. Although today it’s possible to enjoy this ritual in different parts of the country, nothing compares to appreciating it in the place where it was born.

In Papantla you can also see other greatly colorful dances, such as that of the “guaguas”, they use huge circular plumes adorned with feathers to worship the sun, and also the dance of the “negritos”.

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