The capital of the state of México, TOLUCA DE LERDO is today a large and modern industrial centre, sprawling across a wide plain. At an altitude of nearly 2700m, it is the highest city in the country, and is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, dominated by the white-capped Nevado de Toluca. It is probably not a place you’ll want to linger, but on Fridays it is the site of what is allegedly the largest single market in the country.

Unusually for a Mexican city, Toluca’s centre is marked not by an open plaza, but by a central block surrounded on three sides by the nation’s longest series of arcades, built in the 1830s and known as portales, lined with shops, restaurants and cafés: Portal Madero is to the south along Hidalgo; Portal 20 de Noviembre is to the east along Allende; and Portal Reforma is to the west along Bravo. The fourth side is taken up by the nineteenth-century cathedral and, to its east, the mustard-yellow church of Santa Cruz. Most of the central sights are clustered north of the portales and the cathedral, close to the two massive open plazas: Plaza de los Mártires, north of the cathedral, which is dominated on its north side by the Palacio del Gobierno, and to its east, Plaza Garibay, which is rather prettier, with shrubbery and fountains.

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