Known as the City of Angels, Puebla, a World Heritage Site, lies 136 km (84 mi) from Mexico City. The climate is mild and semi-humid, with rainfall during the summer and the beginning of fall, and generally cool days during the summer months. The average temperature is 16º C (61º F.)
This city has some 5,000 colonial buildings, which are mostly baroque edifices built during the 16th century. The Cathedral is one of the most notable examples of this city’s beautiful architecture. At times, it seems as though the architectural designs of some of the convents, churches and squares came from heaven above. Not only is this city known for its splendid architecture, but it also offers an excellent cuisine, which is a blend of pre-Hispanic, Arabic, French and Spanish influences. Among the world-famous dishes are chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chili peppers bathed in walnut sauce,) and mole poblano (a regional mole dish.) Here you will also find wonderful crafts, including Talavera pottery, el arbol de la vida (the tree of life) figurines, bark paper paintings and unique onyx and marble sculptures. You can find those items and much more at the traditional markets and beautiful plazas where artisans sell their products.
Puebla, a city of gray hewn stone constructions, is Mexico’s fifth largest city. As you walk along the streets, you will see marvelous facades with lovely iron balconies. In the environs, you will find beautiful natural areas where you can do all kinds of outdoor recreational activities. During your stay, be sure to visit the Izta-Popo National Park, La Malinche National Park and the Valle de Tehuacan Biosphere Reserve, the largest reserve in the world.
HOTEL ESTRELLA DE BELEM, B&B & SPA, Cholula
HOTEL LA CASONA DE LA CHINA POBLANA, Puebla
HOTEL LA PURIFICADORA, Puebla
HOTEL LA QUINTA LUNA, Cholula
HOTEL MESÓN SACRISTÍA DE CAPUCHINAS, Puebla
HOTEL MESÓN SACRISTÍA DE LA COMPAÑÍA, Puebla ECOTOURISM AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES:
Because of the growing need to return to nature, many new ecotourism sites are cropping up across the nation. Among some of Mexico’s more notable places are Puebla’s ecological reserves. You can discover the magic, beauty and diverse ecosystems at these places while enjoying a fascinating hike.
The vast areas in Puebla’s environs are ideal for enjoying a hot air balloon ride, mountain biking, and for the more adventurous visitors, paragliding. They offer fresh air and impressive scenery consisting of high cliffs, ravines and plenty of trees. Because you will find all the necessary safety equipment and experienced guides offering their services, all of these activities are perfectly safe.
In Puebla’s environs you will find two places that are ideal for a family fishing outing: two lakes surrounded by abundant vegetation, which offer all the necessary services to enjoy a great fishing trip.
In the city of Puebla and its surrounding areas, golf enthusiasts will find excellent private and public courses offering beautiful landscapes and excellent facilities. Some of them were created by world-class designers, such as Abraham Garcia Lopez.
Club de Golf La Huerta: Located at 2319 Prolongacion 15 Sur. Pedro Guereca designed this nine holes, par 31 course.
La Vista Country Club: Located at Km 4 on Boulevard Atlixcayotl, in San Andres Cholula, 9 km (5.5 mi) from the city of Puebla. Robert Von Hagge designed this 18 holes, par 72 course.
Club de Golf El Cristo: Located 31 km (19 mi) from the city of Puebla, at Km 4.5 on the Libramiento de Azucar de Matamoros, in Atlixco’s El Cristo neighborhood. This is an 18 holes, par 71 course.
The volcanoes in Puebla’s surrounding areas provide the perfect settings for mountain climbing. Once you have climbed to the top of these mountains, your perspective of the city will never be the same. During the climb, you can breathe fresh air and enjoy excellent lodging facilities surrounded by beautiful trees and ravines.
Puebla offers many recreational activities that you can experience in its vast natural areas. You can go hiking or cave diving in underground caverns and rappelling down large cliffs. You can count on safe and excellent services to enjoy these adventures.
The gorgeous natural scenery in Puebla’s surrounding areas offers the ideal spots to enjoy various outdoor recreational activities like rafting. As you roll down the rapids you will live an exhilarating experience that you can share with the whole family. At Rio (river) Apulco you will find equipment rentals and guides offering their services.
Puebla’s spas are a great option for those seeking rest, relaxation and health treatments all in one place. For a good massage, you will find various places that also offer thermal waters with natural minerals. You can also enjoy reflexology therapy or a California massage.
Cantiles: Located just 16 km (ten mi) from the city of Puebla. The excellent rock formations here form part of a geological paradise that is ideal for climbing and rappelling. You will find a wall that is 40 meters (132 feet) high, as well as more than 60 routes. All the equipment you will need can be rented in Puebla.
Cerro de San Bernardino Chalchihuapan: Located 16 km (ten mi) from the city of Puebla. At this place, a group of paragliding pilots offer lessons. They use only the best equipment here, making it the ideal spot to do this sport. We recommend that you make a reservation.
Club Amatzcalli de Chautla: Located 30 km (19 mi) southwest of the city of Puebla, along the Mexico-Puebla Federal Highway, and four km (2.5 mi) from the city of San Martin Texmelucan. The grounds here form part of the Ex-Hacienda of Chautla, where you will find two lakes that host three annual fishing tournaments. One is a trout fishing competition, dubbed Torneo de Aniversario. The other two, which are bass tournaments, are called Torneo por Parejas and Torneo de Padres e Hijos. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Club Amatzcalli de Metepec: Located just 40 km (25 mi) from the city of Puebla, and ten km (six mi) northwest of Atlixco. This is one of Mexico’s first recreational areas with a controlled ecosystem, which is done using state-of-the-art technology. Here you will find a lake with an abundant supply of rainbow trout. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Cuetzalan: Located 174 km (108 mi) from the city of Puebla, in the Sierra Norte zone. This picturesque place, which is blanketed in fog throughout most of the year due to its climate and abundant vegetation, is a place of strong traditions, as evidenced in its cuisine, crafts, fiestas and hospitable people. Here you can visit the Conchita church, the Santuario de Guadalupe and the Palacio Municipal, of Russian neoclassical architecture. There’s also the Calmahustic Museum of Ethnography, and in the surrounding areas you can check out Masatepec, San Andres Tzicuilan and the archeological zone of Yohualichan.
The Izta-Popo National Park: Located 55 km (34 mi) from Puebla. This park covers an area of 26,500 hectares (65,455 acres). Its most notable sights are the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes, which are the second and third highest elevations in Mexico, with altitudes of 5,442 meters (17,958 feet) and 5,220 meters (17,226 feet), respectively. At this place you can climb some of the mountain’s highest parts, such as the so-called “Pecho” (chest) and “Cabeza” (head) of Iztaccihuatl, which is 5,080 meters (17,764 feet) above sea level. Here you will also find a lodge with a restaurant and restrooms. In the park’s surrounding areas there are pine and Encino oak forests where you can go hiking and camping with an experienced guide.
The Malinche National Park: Located 35 km (22 mi) from the city of Puebla, near the Tlaxcala border. At this place you will see La Malinche volcano, which is where the park got its name. The Malinche sits 4,461 meters (14,721 feet) above sea level. The summit has a cold climate, while the pine, Encino oak and fir forests have a mild temperature. This volcano’s altitude makes it ideal for climbing. Along the way you will see spectacular vegetation, narrow mountain ridges and gorges. A guide will lead you along one of two routes through this beautiful area. After spending the night in a lodge, you will wake up the next day and head to the summit. This is the perfect place to observe flora and fauna. Among the various animal species you will see are squirrels, deer, coyotes, badgers and snakes. Here you can also visit the Albergue de La Malinche Tourist Center.
The Onyx and Las Espuelas Route: It is recommendable to have a car for this tour. Departing from Puebla, head 21 km (13 mi) to Cuauhtinchan. The interesting sight there is the Ex-Convent of San Juan Bautista, which has magnificent architecture. You can also visit the Museum of Religious Art, which has precious wood-sculpted images. If you’re feeling hungry, try the delicious barbacoa. About six km (four mi) from there you will find Tecalli de Herrera, where you can check out the Ex-Convent of Santiago Apostle, a construction that has withstood the inclement weather. Continuing along the route, 11 km (seven mi) ahead you will arrive at Tepeaca, where you can eat some delicious fish in salsa guajillo, or if you prefer something different, try the fish in green salsa. While you’re digesting, you can take a walk through the town. If you decide to spend the night, you should have no problem finding a place to stay. In the morning you can admire such splendid sights as the Ex-Convent of San Francisco, with its Chapel of the Third Order, El Rollo, la Casa de los Virreyes and la Casa de Cortes. After having toured the town, the next and last stop is Amozoc, which is 18 km (11 mi) from Puebla. The most notable architecture you will see here is that of the Ex-Convent of San Francisco de Assisi and the Santa Maria Asuncion parish church. We recommend that you set aside two days for this tour.
Rio Apulco: Located 40 minutes from the “Magic Town” of Cuetzalan, in Puebla’s northern region. Along this river route you will see a wide variety of tropical vegetation and numerous waterfalls. The rapids are class II and III, making them exciting and safe for a family outing.
San Andres Cholula: Located nine km (5.5 mi) from the city of Puebla. The climate here is mild and semi-humid, with rain in the summer. Among the most important celebrations that take place here are the Apostle San Andres, San Isidrio Labrador, the Santisima Virgin de los Remedies and San Diego de Alcala. The most notable crafts made here are flowered rugs, wax figures for Independence Day festivities, candles and indigenous figurines used for rituals. During your visit, a must see is the archaeological zone, which has a group of seven pyramids. The most impressive pyramid is the Chiconahui Quiahuitl, which has a 400-meter base, making it the largest foundation in the world. From Cholula’s main plaza you can admire Los Remedies church, the parish church of San Andres Cholula, the Santa Maria Tonantzintla church and the San Francisco Acatepec church, all of which are magnificent examples of 16th and 17th century baroque architecture. Here you will find a school that provides lessons and organizes outings for paragliding. This area has excellent scenery, allowing you to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view as you soar high in the sky.
The Thermal waters of Chignahuapan: Located five km (three mi) from Chignahuapan, in the state’s northern region, about 100 km (62 mi) from Puebla, off the Puebla - Mexico Highway 150. This is a modern spa offering diverse services, including beauty and relaxation treatments such as the California massage, hot stone treatments, temazcal steam baths, organic springs mud masks, saunas, Jacuzzis, aromatherapy, thermal hydrotherapy and energy juices.
Tzicatlacoyan: Located 23 km (14 mi) from the city of Puebla. This is an underground world that offers a very unique rocky landscape. As you explore the caverns, you will see stalagmites, stalactites, rivers, springs and various chambers, making it the ideal spot for cave diving. You can tour the cavern with a guide, who will provide all the necessary gear and lanterns.
Valle de Apulco: Located 145 km (90 mi) from the city of Puebla. Here you can go on a hot air balloon that rises 80 meters (264 feet). It is certainly the best spot to enjoy this activity, as it offers a splendid view of the mountains, waterfalls and forest below.
Valle de Tehuacan Biosphere Reserve: Located 108 km (67 mi) from the city of Puebla. This is the largest biosphere sphere in the world and offers some of Mexico’s richest biodiversity. Nearly dix per cent of the species have been introduced to the reserve from other countries or other regions in Mexico, such as the green guacamaya. About 50 per cent of the species are indigenous, like the golden eagle. This is an ideal spot to observe flora, as it is the habitat of more than 800 plant species, some of which have more than 11 uses.
At the archaeological zones in Puebla’s surrounding areas, you can learn about the splendor of Mexico’s pre-classic era. As you visit the ruins of this great civilization, the view of the nearby Malinche Volcano will leave you fascinated.
CHOLULA ARCHEOLOGICAL ZONE:
The archeological zone is located approximately 8 km (5 miles) of Puebla, by the Road Quetzlcoatl. It is regarded as the oldest America, has seven pyramids overlapping. One of the most impressive structures is that the pyramid was built in honor of Chiconahui Quiahuitl, which has a 400 meters (1320 feet) base, or what is regarded as the world's largest total volume. At its site museum will see replicas of the murals of the “Drinkers and Chapulínes (Butterflies),” as well as a scale model of the whole pyramid. Open Monday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
CANTONA ARCHEOLOGICAL ZONE:
The archeological zone is located 92 km (57 mi) northwest of Puebla, off Highway 129 in the direction of Libres. This archaeological site, which is 12 square kilometers, is one of the largest pre-Hispanic cities in Mesoamerica. It is divided into three urban units, where you will find the Acropolis, which has more than 3,000 individual patios and 24 ball courts, among other structures. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
YOHUALICHAN ARCHEOLOGICAL ZONE:
This site is located approximately at 180 km of the city of Puebla in the Sierra Norte zone and at seven km to the east of Cuetzalan. The site is of particular interest because their vestiges verify the dominant presence of groups of the coast in this region of the mountain range. These coastal groups must have left Yohualichan forced by the advance of warrior groups from the center of Mexico. The site was a ceremonial center that surely had influenced others and it was consolidated to carry out some type of cult, still after it was abandoned. The part better known of this zone with influence of the Tajín is the area where we can see a similar monumental architecture to the one encountered in the metropolis. There is a ceremonial center that was built on a series of natural platforms that point towards the north. In the environs of this pre-Hispanic site there is a residential area, constructions that until today have not been studied.
The constructions of Yohualichan present very special characteristic such as the alignments of niches that finish off the different buildings from the pyramidal structures. Also it is possible to notice that some of the niches are double, meaning, that some of them contain another niche in their interior. Some of these elements still conserve some of the original stucco that covered them. The niches were covered with a flat rock, characteristic that confers a very singular aspect to them. One of the ritual activities of greater importance conducted periodically in the site was the ball game, for which they have parallel and extended constructions on the south side of the site.
Puebla’s rich history and culture can be seen in its baroque, renaissance and classical architectural styles. In fact, in 1987 the UNESCO declared Puebla a World Heritage Site due to its beautiful buildings.
The Cathedral: Located on 16 de Septiembre Street, on the corner of 5 Oriente. This building, which has 14 chapels of various styles, houses numerous works of art, such as the main cupola and the altar, which were painted by the artist Cristobal de Villalpando. The main façades are in a baroque transition-period. They have classical columns with Doric, Ionic and Corinthian endings. The 69-meter (228-foot) towers are the tallest in Mexico. The choir has finely carved benches decorated with wood, onyx and ivory inlays, as well as Arabic ornamental bows. The Cathedral also has two organs donated by the king Carlos V.
The Municipal Palace: Located on Avenida Maximino Avila Camacho. The hewn stone, renaissance-style façade differs from other buildings as here they used Ionic columns and triangular gables that crown the windows. The building has two floors topped with a central attic, which has a public clock and a tower on each end.
The Concordia and the Patio de los Azulejos: Located at Calle 3 Sur and 9 Poniente. This is one of the most representative buildings of local architecture. It has a hewn stone, baroque-style facade with images of saints made from marble. Next to the convent you will find a college that was once a house of prayer.
The Ex Colegio Carolino (Autonomous University of Puebla): Located on Avenida Maximino Avila Camacho, at 4 Sur. The facade has several doorways with balconies that lead to three interior patios. One of the building’s most notable features is an imperial staircase in the main lobby, where you will see large oil paintings.
The Ex Palacio del Arzobispado (Federal Palace): Located in the Zocalo (Main Square,) at Avenida Juan de Palafox and Mendoza. This magnificent construction conserves the facades of the old colleges of San Pedro and San Juan, as well as that of the Palace, making it a true gem of colonial architecture. It also has a harmonious combination of red brick and Talavera tiles.
The Fountain of the China Poblana: Situated at Boulevard Heroes de 5 de Mayo and Defensores de la Republica. This monumental work has Talavera, hewn stone and petatillo sculptures. Its foundation is 30 meters (100 feet) in diameter. In the middle of the structure an enormous column supports two basins and a pedestal, where the famous three meter (10-foot) China Poblana statue stands.
The Biblioteca (Library) Palafoxiana: Located at 5 Oriente Number 5, this building houses the “Casa de la Cultura” (Cultural house.) This Library Museum was designated a Historical Monument of Mexico by Presidential Decree due to its extensive collection. It houses 43,000 volumes in languages such as Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Chaldean and Greek. The subject matters include: Philosophy, theology and canonic law, among other themes. The library has valuable texts, such as the Nuremberg Chronicle, which dates back to 1493. It also houses the Christian Doctrine, the Ortelius Atlas and the Polyglot Bible. Here you can also admire a baroque altarpiece, and the oil paintings that represent the Virgin of Trapana and another of Saint Thomas de Aquinas. You also see tables with onyx inlays and a finely sculptured bookcase.
Temple and Ex Convent of San Francisco: Located on Boulevard Heroes del 5 de Mayo. This structure has a tower with four hewn stone bodies with broken moldings and Ionic and Doric pilasters. On the main façade of gray hewn stone, you will see images of vases and flowers and a Churrigueresque portal. They are flanked by two large tile panels and enriched by three Plateresque bodies. You will also see choir stalls, neoclassic altarpieces and the mummified body of the devout Sebastian de Aparicio.
Temple de Santo Domingo: Located at 5 de Mayo, at the corner of 4 Poniente. The facade is of gray hewn stone and it is pure classical style. It features three Doric columns. From its large atrium, you can appreciate the mortar baroque adornments on the conventional façade. You also see large vaults and magnificent gold-covered altarpieces of baroque, Churrigueresque and Salomonic Baroque styles.
ARTS AND CRAFTS:
Puebla’s multicultural heritage is reflected in its wide variety of world-famous crafts, many of which are still made using ancient techniques. The Talavera ceramics, of Arabic origin, are glazed white pottery with intricate tile designs. The engravings and bark paper paintings come from pre-Hispanic influences. The unique onyx and marble objects are world-renowned. In the La Luz neighborhood, you will find beautiful glazed brown pottery, while the colorful clay tree of life figurines come from Izucar de Matamoros and Acatlan de Osorio.
You can also appreciate the extensive cultural offering in the textiles made here, including wool and cotton serapes, ponchos and shawls. They are produced using both traditional and automated looms.
If you want to see paintings and sculptures, visit the artist workshops in El Barrio del Artista.
FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONS:
With the exception of the celebration that takes place on November 1 and 2, when the deceased are honored on the Day of the Dead with offerings and altars, most of Puebla’s festivities are of a civic nature, such as the 5 de Mayo Battle of Puebla, which features a military parade to celebrate Mexico’s victory against the French Army. After the parade, the city hosts a popular fiesta with regional food and music. Another important celebration marks the city’s founding, which takes place on April 16. It includes ceremonies, artistic events, fireworks and rides. And of course, there’s the Independence Day celebration on September 15. During this time of the year, the streets are adorned with red, white and green, the national colors. In the Zocalo, the city’s main square, you will hear the famous Cry of Independence. Later, the city’s restaurants, discos and nightclubs come alive.
Puebla’s excellent cuisine, which is the result of a strong culinary heritage, offers a wide variety of spices, delicious dishes and sweets. During you visit, do not miss out on Puebla’s tasty treats, such as the mole, made with various spices and chili peppers. This is one of the state’s most important dishes and it has become world famous. Another regional favorite are the chiles en nogada (stuffed peppers bathed in walnut sauce), which traditionally are prepared in the months of August and September. Legend has it that they were created to honor General Agustin de Iturbide by mixing indigenous and mestizo ingredients, such as chili peppers, castilla walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Other foods that you must try are the gorditas, chalupas, el pipian and maguey worms. You will also want to check out the colorful selection of pastries and sweets at the bakeries and candy shops. Some of the more popular sweets include tortitas de Santa Clara, jamoncillos de mazapan and goat’s milk, and delicious vanilla, pineapple and coconut yams.
In a city that offers so much culturally, it’s hardly surprising that you will find numerous and diverse museums. At these places you will learn about the history, traditions and culture of the people of Puebla.
Regional Museum of Anthropology and History of Puebla: Located at Centro Civico 5 de Mayo. The varied collection in this anthropology museum includes objects, sculptures, documents, photographs and armory, allowing you to get a broad overview of the state’s cultural development, from the pre-Hispanic era to the Mexican Revolution. The museum also has temporary exhibits, a library and a bookstore. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Museum of Religious Colonial Art: Located on Privada Gonzalo Bautista, in the Ex-Convent of Santa Monica. This museum houses interesting religious art from the colonial era, including oil paintings, cult objects and old furniture from this convent and from the Santa Rosa and Las Capuchinas convents. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Museum of Art Jose Luis Bello y Gonzalez: Located at 408 5 de Mayo. This museum has 15 showrooms with permanent art exhibits, featuring paintings, Mexican furniture, Talavera ceramics, local marquetry, majolica pottery, water color paintings on rice paper, a 17th century organ and a vertical English piano which was found at the beginning of the 18th century, among other displays. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Museum of Popular Art Poblano: Located at 301 14 Poniente, in the Ex-Convent of Santa Rosa. Each of the six showrooms at this museum represents distinct regions in the state, with a permanent collection of crafts on display. Do not forget to check out the regional cuisine of Puebla exhibit, which was modeled with tiles, furniture and utensils from a different era. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Among the street stalls, plazas and markets, you will find everything you need to decorate your home with antiques, rustic furniture and delicate Talavera pottery. You will find these items at the Callejon de los Sapos, El Parian market and La Victoria market. At these places you will also find silver, paper crafts, regional toys, local sweets and much more. In addition, Puebla has modern malls and plazas, such as Angelopolis, Plaza Cristal, Loreto and Centro Comercial Milenium, where you will find quality stores and modern facilities meeting all your needs.
AMUSEMENT AND RECREATION:
Puebla has one of the most important and spectacular zoos in the nation. You will have a fascinating experience there largely because you are permitted to have direct contact with the animals that run free in the park. You can also have a great time at Puebla’s thermal water swimming resorts.
Parque Zoologico Africam Safari: Located at Km 16.5 off the Capitan Carlos Camacho Highway. This is the ideal spot to observe flora and fauna. It has more than 400 native plant species and more than 1,500 animals that run free, including antelopes, bison, bears, lions, giraffes, rhinos, hippopotamus and chimpanzees. There are also special attractions, such as a bat cave, a botanical garden, a butterfly sanctuary and a camping area. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Agua Azul: Located at 5117 Prolongacion 11 Sur, at Calzada Mayorazgo. This swimming resort with thermal waters has eight pools, one of which comes complete with waves and a wading pool. The beautiful recreational areas offer basketball courts, soccer fields, front tennis courts and a children’s play area. In addition, this place provides dressing rooms, showers, saunas, a restaurant and bar, restrooms and a sporting goods store. Open daily from 7:00 am. to 6:00 p.m.
Puebla has various nightspots where you can have drinks while enjoying food and conversation. Here you will also find many options if you’re looking for a younger party scene. At these places you will hear all kinds of music that will keep you dancing all night. We recommend that you visit the bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the downtown area.
ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORTS EVENTS:
Among the most important events carried out in Puebla are: the Festival del Chile en Nogada, which takes place in August; and the Poblana National Fair, an industrial, agricultural, commercial and crafts expo held in April and May, which includes various cultural and artistic events. Also of interest is the Festival of Mole Poblano, which takes place every Sunday in June, at the Analco esplanade. The Palafoxiana Festival is an international cultural event that is celebrated on weekends, from the last Friday of September to November. During that period, you can enjoy dance and theatrical performances, live music, conferences, as well as art, photo and sculpture exhibits. In addition, throughout the year you can attend all kind of cultural events at the following places:
Theater Principal: Located on 8 Oriente, at 6 Norte. Built in the 18th century, this is one of the oldest theaters in the Americas. The façade has two main bodies separated by a cornice and a large balcony with a window. The tympanum depicts legendary theatrical figures. The large stage has an orchestra pit and you will find the theater’s acoustics excellent.
Auditorium Reforma: Located at Centro Civico 5 de Mayo. This modern building stands in contrast to the architecture of Loreto and Guadalupe. The design includes an impressive metal cupola and inside you will find a magnificent facility to attend civic and cultural events.
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