Main archeological sites include Teotihuacan, Malinalco, Teotenango and Calixtlahuaca. The best known and most important of these is the massive Mesoamerican Teotihuacan, with thousands visiting it each year. This city predates the Aztecs and the Toltecs, and is distinguished by two large pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.

In Malinalco, the archeological site is officially called the Cuauhtinchan Archeological Zone but it is more commonly called the Cerro de los Idolos. The site is located on a cliff overlooking the town. The visible complex dates from the Aztec Empire but the site’s use as a ceremonial center appears to be much older. The main building served as a sanctuary for Aztec warriors. This complex has been compared to Ellora in India, Petra on the shores of the Dead Sea and Abu Simbel in Egypt.

Teotenango was in important pre-Hispanic fortified city located in the southern part of the Valley of Toluca. It was initially founded during the last stages of the Teotihuacan civilization by a group generally referred to as the “Teotenancas.” Later, the Matlatzincas conquered the city and expanded it. The city existed for about 1,000 years, being abandoned only after the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire. In the 15th century, it and the rest of the southern Toluca Valley was conquered by the Aztecs. In the 16th century, the Spanish took over, forced the residents to abandon the old city in favor on a new settlement on the valley floor.

Calixtlahuaca is another Matlazinca site located just outside of the city of Toluca. The site is at least 3,000 years old and shows Teotihuacan, Toltec and Aztec influences. Located on the skirts of the Tenismó mountain, the most outstanding structure is the temple dedicated to Ehécatl, or Quetzalcoatl in his wind god aspect.

Colonial and other historical sites
16th century mural of child martyrs at Ozumba
Most of the state’s colonial attractions are promoted through the “Pueblos con Encanto” program. These include the monasteries and churches located in towns such as de Acolman, Aculco, Amanalco, Amecameca, Ayapango, El Oro, Ixtapan de la Sal, Malinalco, Metepec, Otumba, Temascalcingo, San Juan Teotihuacán, Tlalmanalco, Tonatico and Villa del Carbón. Other colonial structures can be found in Ozumba, Toluca and the cities that surround Mexico City.

The state has twenty six museums and 543 libraries dependent on the Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura. Major institutions include the Centro Cultural Mexiquense and the Notary Archive, the Executive and Legislative Archives in Toluca.

Natural attractions
Panoramic of Valle de Bravo from Lake Avandaro
The natural feature most closely associated with the state is the Nevado de Toluca or Xinantécatl volcano which is just south of the capital of Toluca. This is an extinct volcano which rises 4,690 masl, making it the fourth highest peak in Mexico. At the top is a very large crater that contains two lakes called the Laguna del Sol and the Laguna de la Luna. The volcano and its immediate surroundings are part of the Nevado de Toluca National Park and the Los Venado National Park.

Valle de Bravo along with neighboring Lake Avandaro is a major weekend getaway for many in Mexico City and Mexico State. The town is filled with red tile roofs and stone paved streets and has been named a “Pueblo Magico” by the federal tourism agency. The lake is a result of the damming of a regional river and is home to more than forty nautical clubs.

The Grutas de la Estrella is located in the far south of the state on the border with Guerrero. It is a series of live caves in which running water creates formations, some of which are called “The Mammoth,” the “Bride and Groom,” “The Hand” and “The Palace.” They have lighting and other infrastructure as well as guided tours.

Most of the other natural attractions are situated on water sources.Ixtapan de la Sal and Tonatico are noted for their hot-water springs and water parks. Ixtapan de la Sal has attracted the construction of spas and water parks. Tonatico has the fifty-meter high El Salto Waterfall. The Lagunas de Zempoala (Zempoala Lakes) are located on the Santiago Tianguistenco-Cuernavaca highway. The area has forest and cabins. The Isla de la Aves (Island of the Birds) is located in a lake in the municipalities of Atlacolmulco and Timilpan and has an aviary.

Others
View of the interior of the Cosmovitral with the "Sun Man" in the background
To honor the native peoples of the area, there are the Centro Ceremonial Otomi in Temoaya and the Centro Ceremonial Mazahua in San Felipe del Progreso. Both of these have museums, auditoriums, handcrafts centers as well as large forested areas for camping and hiking.[39] Both were built to honor and preserve these indigenous cultures.

Zacango is the state’s major zoo with over 2,000 species from all over the world. It is located fourteen km from the city of Toluca in the municipality of Calimaya. It is one of the few zoos in Mexico where all the animals live in natural-like enclosures.

The Cosmovitral is a stained glass mural and botanical garden located in Toluca. The building takes its name from the murals which are set in the buildings huge windows that surround the building and in the ceiling. The building originally was construction in 1910 as the 16 de Septiembre Market, but when this was closed in 1975, Leopoldo Flores successfully convinced the city government to convert the building into a space for art. The Cosmovitral is located on the corner of Juárez and Lerdo de Tejada streets in the downtown. The best known aspect of t his work is the “Hombre Sol” or Sun Man. Each year on the spring equinox, the sun aligns with this panel of the stained glass work. This image has become one of the symbols of the state.

 

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