Tonalá in Jalisco: A Cultural and Historical Destination

Tonalá is located to the east of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara and is recognized for being the cradle of distinguished pottery masters.

Tonalá in Jalisco: A Cultural and Historical Destination
A tastoan, an indigenous dance of more than 400 years old is performed in Tonalá, Jalisco. Photo: Jalisco

Its name comes from the Nahuatl word Tonallan, which means "place where the sun rises". It is a joyful place, full of culture and history and with an ancestral craft tradition that dates back to pre-Hispanic times. Its enormous pottery prestige has grown and has been consolidated as one of the best in the world, so much so that currently a good portion of its production is exported to destinations with a recognized pottery ancestry such as Germany and Japan.

In Tonalá, other crafts such as wrought iron, paper-mâché, embossing, and blown glass, among others, are also made. The City Hall has organized free tours to craft workshops. Information can be requested at the tourism module located in Plaza Cihualpilli. Surprise your senses with the magic of the handicrafts of this town, the cradle of pottery in Jalisco.

Buildings and Tourist Attractions in Tonalá

Plaza Cihualpilli - It has a beautiful kiosk made in France dating from 1897.

Municipal Palace - This building dates from 1533, although it has had innumerable remodelings throughout the years. It has beautiful clay murals, as well as a spectacular sundial. Showcases are displaying various local handicrafts.

House of the Artisans - A place where the crafts of Tonalá are exhibited, promoted, and sold.

Artisan's Market - On Thursdays and Sundays from 8 am to 3 pm almost 4,000 merchants are installed in the center of Tonalá with a great variety of beautiful handicrafts at incredible prices.

Cerro de la Reina - Natural viewpoint 2,500 meters high, where you can admire the city of Guadalajara. It has games and is an ideal place for hiking. At the top is located the monument to Queen Cihualpilli and the Stone Chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. In pre-Hispanic times it was a ceremonial center.

Las Siete Cascadas - A place of exuberant vegetation with seven waterfalls, and staggering formations that emanate from rocky areas of the ravine. In their fall, the waterfalls form pools where you can swim. The seventh waterfall flows into the Santiago River. You can practice zip-lining, canopy, and nature observation.

Museums of Tonalá

National Museum of Ceramics - Unique in its genre, it exhibits pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary pieces, more than 230 pieces dating from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. from the eastern and central regions of the country, as well as 850 pieces from Tonalá worked in various techniques. The museum also offers Tastoan masks and diverse pieces that are related to the devotion of the people to their Patron Saint Santiago. The exhibition includes more than 150 photographic images related to Tonalá. Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm.

Tonallán Regional Museum - It is located in a 19th-century house. It exhibits painting, sculpture, popular art, archaeological pieces, and traditional pottery related to the cultural richness of Tonaló. Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Churches in Tonalá

Parish of Santiago Apostle - It was the second church built in the Atemajac Valley. Its construction was initiated by the Franciscans in 1661. In its interior, the neoclassic style predominates and it has six Corinthian altarpieces.

Ex Convent of the Augustinians - It dates from the XVII century and is located next to the Parish of Santiago Apostle. Its enormous gargoyles with human and animal figures stand out.

Church of the White Cross - This is where the evangelization of the Atemajac Valley began on March 25, 1530.

Church of the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart - The old chapel of the Hospital of the Virgin of Solitude was rebuilt and became the present Sanctuary, completed in 1899.

Hermitage of Guadalupe - Chapel of Castilian stone built at the top of the Cerro de la Reina.

The Tonallan Route

The Tonallan Route includes a set of cultural, handicraft, and historical-religious experiences for visitors. The artisan route, the commercial route, religious tourism, the Pueblo Museum, and the Historic Center. Each axis is made up of tourist attractions, emblematic sites, commercial corridors, and interactive activities that allow visitors to learn about the cultural richness of Jalisco.

The Artisan's Route includes a guided visit with a tourist promoter to the workshops of master artisans to discover their techniques and the process of elaboration of their works. Seven interactive workshops are included, plus two delegations with artisan identity: Santa Cruz de las Huertas and El Rosario.

The Commercial Route includes visits to the three most important commercial corridors: Juárez Street, Tonaltecas Avenue, and Tonalá Avenue, where people can visit the handicraft market, shopping malls, galleries, and food and beverage establishments.

Other options are to visit the Pueblo Museo halls or the Historic Center. The first is streets intervened with tourist public works that portray the culture, history, and traditions of Tonalá, while the other includes a tour of sites such as the Municipal Palace, the National Museum of Ceramics, Cihualpilli Square, and Cerro de la Reina.

If you want to know the attractions of historical-religious tourism, then the visit would be to the temples of the municipal capital and its foundational centers, among them the Chapel of the White Cross, the Parish of Santo Santiago, and the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Tonallan Route is part of the Jalisco Routes project, which seeks to promote the economic reactivation of the municipalities to attract local, national, and international tourism, with a focus on the vocation of each region. In this sense, Tonalá joins Tapalpa, Tala, Mascota, and Mixtlán, municipalities where differentiated tourist products are being built.

To schedule the free guided tours offered by the municipality it is necessary to contact the Head of Tourism and Sister Cities at telephone: 33 3586-6000, extension 1170, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Tonalá is located to the east of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara and is recognized for being the cradle of distinguished pottery masters. It is a municipality full of magic, tradition, and culture, which is home to places worth visiting such as the popular commercial, decorative and handicraft corridor, and the Guardianes de la Reina walkway, a 1.6 km pedestrian tourist walkway, where you can learn about the Tonalá culture.