Even without proof of their existence, urban legends of Puebla’s underground tunnels persisted for generations. “My grandfather use to tell me these stories and had personally seen some of the tunnels,” Puebla Mayor Antonio Gali told El País. “He said, ‘I saw Porfirio Díaz [a Mexican revolutionary who later became president], who crossed on horseback, and wagons would pass through the vaults in the city’.”
But while people heard tales that the tunnels connected churches and were used as escape routes during the Mexican Revolution, there were no maps to help pinpoint where they lay.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the tunnels were accidentally discovered by workers focused on a remodeling project, according to El País. Since then, more of the underground passageways have been unearthed, and Puebla officials are now trying to study them to learn more about Puebla’s history. So far, they have learned that the tunnels were built after 1531, the year Puebla was founded.
The tunnels were originally constructed to be used by the Catholic church, but the 15 different architectural styles reveal they weren’t all built in the same time period. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about these tunnels, however, is that regardless of the time period when they were constructed, they “have resisted the weight of the buildings, water systems, earthquakes and the traffic above ground.”
In February, the entrance to one of the nine tunnels, located in Xanenetla, will be open to the public. The Bubonic Plague Bridge – which got its name because Franciscan priests used it to visit Bubonic Plague patients – was remodeled and opened to the public in December.