Mar 152014

The city of Toluca (population 1.8 million), the capital of the State of México, was in the news recently as the site for the tri-national meeting between the heads of state of Mexico, the USA and Canada to mark the 20th anniversary of NAFTA.

Nestled away inside the city, away from its burgeoning factories, is the former city market. The market closed in 1975. Plans to demolish it were forestalled when renowned Mexican artist Leopoldo Flores stepped up with a plan to restore the market building, which dated back to 1909, into an artistic gem housing a botanical garden.

Cosmovitral, Toluca

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The market’s original windows were replaced with large glass murals, comprised of half a million pieces of glass and covering a total area of more than 3,000 square meters. The revamped building, now known as the Cosmovitral, was reopened in 1980. In 2007, the Cosmovitral narrowly missed being named one of the 13 man-made wonders of Mexico.

The centerpiece of the Cosmovitral murals is the stunning image entitled Sun Man (Hombre Sol).

Possibly the world’s best decorated glasshouse, the Cosmovitral houses over 500 different plants from around the world and has become one of the city’s single most popular tourist attractions, though rarely visited by foreign tourists.

Where? The Cosmovitral is located in downtown Toluca at the intersection of Juárez and Lerdo de Tejada streets. Guided tours are available.

When? It is normally open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission? Tickets are 10 pesos (less than a dollar) for adults, 5 pesos for children. Guided tours, mostly to explain the Cosmovitral’s stained glass, are available. Art exhibitions are hosted regularly.

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