Toluca, the capital city of the State of Mexico, is often omitted from the travel trek. However, with a lovely zolaco and truly unique botanical garden, Toluca is worth a short detour. Before your visit, keep in mind that Toluca is not a tourist town and you will find few English speakers at shops and restaurants. This aside (and contrary to other websites that report otherwise), local people are warm and inviting, especially if you make an attempt to speak Spanish.
==== TOLUCA – SIGHTSEEING
An indoor botanical garden housed in stained glass designed by the artist Leopolodo Flores. The stained glass depicts the human struggle between good and evil and is said by some to the the largest stained glass mural in the world.
The Temple of La Merced is one of the most ancient convents still preserved and one of the most important founded by Spaniards. It is a beautiful building of a religious order called mercenarios, and it shows architectural styles from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Its principal facade has 3 naves and was constructed it the 18th century on the remains of the old Temple of San Francisco. The interior of the temple exhibits neoclassical style with gold-leaf. It features oil paintings from the aforementioned times, such as the Birth of San Pedro Nolasco, founder of the Mercenarios order.
The Plaza de Fray Andres de Castro is located next to Los Portales and connected to the older arches by means of a passageway with a transparent roof. It is a semi-enclosed space which was once the sacristy of the La Asuncion Franciscan Monastery.
The Cathedral of Toluca was begun in 1867 by Jose Francisco de Paula on land originally belonging to the Asuncion de Toluca Franciscan monastery.
The Tercer Orden Temple is located to the side of the main cathedral. Its facade is integrated into the main cathedral’s in the popular indigenous Baroque architecture of the 18th century. It was the seat of the bishopric until 1978, when it was moved to the main cathedral. The temple contains a number of paintings.
The Cosmovitral is located in a stone and ironwork building in the center of Toluca built in 1910 by engineer Manuel Arratia in order to accommodate the 16 de Septiembre market.
The Santa Veracruz Temple is the home of a famous image of Our Lord of the Holy Cross also known as a Black Christ. This image was originally housed in the San Francisco Temple, but the increasing number of worshipers dictated the building of its own sanctuary.
==== TOLUCA – GETTING THERE
From Mexico City, buses run nearly every 10 minutes to Toluca. It’s a 45-minute trip to the station, from which you should quickly flee. Take a taxi to Los Portales. From there you can walk to most tourist sites.