Toluca Sights and Landmarks Guide, Mexico
Toluca beckons tourists with its wealth of natural, historical and cultural treasures. If on the one hand you have the Nevado de Toluca Volcano representing the city’s natural wealth, you also have archeological sites and instances of exceptional architecture in Toluca. All you need to do is plan your trip ahead and then you can go exploring the many Toluca sights.
Toluca Sights – Natural Attractions
Toluca is no Cancun, but it has been amply endowed with natural treasures. Unlike the coastal city, Toluca has open countryside with green areas and stunning vistas. Toluca, in addition, has quite a few national parks. The Insurgente Miguel Hidalgo National Park, locally known as ‘La Marquesa’, is certainly the most famous; however, the area also has other parks like the Bosencheve National Park, Sierra Morelos Park, etc.
Toluca’s greatest natural attraction, of course, is the Nevado de Toluca Volcano. Make your way to the top of the volcano to catch a glimpse of the two lagoons (in the crater of the volcano) and its surrounding area.
Toluca Sights – Historical/Archeological Attractions
Calixtlahuaca is undoubtedly the most talked-about site among Toluca’s archeological sites. A visit to this site will take you back to the pre-Spanish conquest period. One of the most important religious centers of pre-Hispanic times, the site and its surroundings give ample evidence of the fact that Calixtlahuaca was inhabited by a number of tribes like the Matlazincas, Quetzalcoatls, Tlalocs, Teotihuacans and Toltecs at various points of time.
Teotenango or ‘the city of the sacred wall’ is yet another pre-Hispanic settlement of the Mazatlincas. Built atop Tetepetl Mountain, the site helps you form a precise idea about these people and their culture.
The mining town of El Oro is an altogether different chapter from the history of Mexico. The old gold mines and the much-too-prevalent French architectural influence take you back in time to the 19th century and give you a good understanding of the golden era.
Toluca Sights – Ecclesiastical Attractions
Toluca has long been a religious center and the city has a number of religious monuments (rather temples) belonging to both pre- and post- evangelizing periods. Take, for example, the Señor de Chalma Temple. It is believed that indigenous tribes worshipped Oxtoteotl (god of the caves) at this site and even made human sacrifices. When Spanish monks arrived here in the 16th century, they replaced the idol of the pagan god with a statue of Christ and converted the people into Christians.
Among other remarkable Toluca sights of religious importance are the Carmen Temple and the Toluca Cathedral; while the former was built in the 18th century, the latter has been built on the remains of the 16th century San Francisco Convent.
Toluca Sights – Artistic/Cultural Attractions
The ‘Cosmovitral’, an art nouveau building, is in itself a work of art. The building has some 65 stained-glass windows and stained glass ceiling. Put together by Toluca –artist, Leopoldo Flores Valdes, the building uses glass-pieces of about 28 different shades. The central feature is the Sun Man (or Hombre Sol).
Toluca is a very cultured city and this is best reflected in the number of museums the city has (second only to Mexico City). There are many subject/area of expertise related museums like The Fine Arts Museum, Folk Art Museum, History and Anthropology Museum, Modern Art Museum, Numismatics Museum, Print Museum, Stamp Museum, Watercolor Museum and so on. Few museums have been dedicated to top Mexican artists and exhibit their work exclusively; three museums in this category are The Felipe Santiago Gutiérrez Museum, José María Velasco Museum and Luis Nishizawa Workshop-Museum.