My visit to Toluca was a brief encounter. We visited the state capital of Mexico for the specific purpose of seeing the Cosmovitral. A botanical garden from 1910, built in the Art Nouveau and Neoclassical architectural style, is popular for its beautiful stained glass windows. The stained glass, designed by Mexican artist Leopoldo Flores, depicts the scene of the symbolic search of light by man, where his spirit is elevated from the shadows of evil and ignorance by good and wisdom.
After arriving we strolled around Plaza de los Mártires (Plaza of the Martyrs), named for the Battle of Teotenango Hill during the Mexican War of Independence. The plaza is surrounded by the Cosmovitral, Catedral de San José de Nazaref, church of El Carmen, museums, and government buildings. Beyond are hills covered with brightly colored homes.
Inside Cosmovitral you are greeted by fountains and lush greenery. The sounds of spraying water muffles the voices of people wandering the paved paths, admiring the over 400 species of plants in the garden. Stained glass windows surround the entire building, sending filtered light through the panes of glass illuminating the symbolic story.
Exiting the Cosmovitral we headed over to a small museum of torture displaying instruments used during the Spanish Inquisition. The museum displays every kind of horrible device certain to cause pain or death to people for punishment of a crime or for torture to gain information. Seeing the breadth of human ingenuity towards torture and killing put a pit in my stomach. None the less, the museum was disturbingly interesting and informative towards humanity’s more barbaric historical past.
To clear our minds we walked to the outdoor market next to El Carmen where there are row after row of vendors selling food. Winding our way past taco stands and tables loaded with cakes and sweet treats we found what we were looking for: a cart selling orange juice. Drinking orange juice from oranges grown in Mexico was one of the pleasures of travel here. The taste is sweet and refreshing, unlike the juice you get in US supermarkets.