Las Pozas: Mexico’s Surreal Jungle Garden

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Bamboo Palace in Las Pozas Mexico
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Located quite close to Mexico’s Xilitla village, Las Pozas draws in tourists and locals who are looking to enjoy a hidden gem set among a natural setting. Created by Edward James, “the pools” and surrealist sculptures sit at more than 2,000 feet above sea level in the rain forest covered mountains of Mexico.

One of the waterfalls at Las Pozas Mexico

During the 1940s, Edward James traveled to Los Angeles, California, looking for the perfect place to set up his own “Garden of Eden.” After seeing the crowds of the bustling city, he decided that LA was not the right place and instead chose Mexico which seemed much more romantic and spacious. Inspired by his cousin, friend and realist painter, Bridget Bate Tichenor, James decided to go to Mexico and search for a magical location to express himself. After visiting Cuernavaca and hiring a guide, James was introduced to Xilitla in 1945. James became close friends with his guide, eventually living with him and his family in a Gothic style castle that he had built and even becoming an uncle to his guide’s children. Throughout the years from 1949 until 1984, James created surreal concrete buildings with comedic names, gardens of tropical plants and pens holding exotic animals. Adding more and more additions over the years, the site eventually became Las Pozas.

Creating the surrealist sculpture garden from the early 1960s until his death in 1984, James was able to add 30 different structures including gardens, random staircases, and pools flowing with natural water. The site has become well known over the years with artists, writers, poets and fans of surrealism in general.

How to Get to Las Pozas

Visitors can fly into Tampico from Mexico City, Houston or Monterrey as well as fly into Queretaro or Leon. They can then head to San Miguel and rent a car and driver or just a car and drive to Xilitla themselves.

One of the many surreal sculptures at Las Pozas

What to Do

While wandering around this site, there is plenty to see and do. Make sure to take a look at the specific structures created by James. There is the Bamboo Palace, Library without any books, the Flamingo House, Cinematographer, House of Three Floors, The Summer Palace, Deer House, and Saint Edward’s Plaza. Head up the stairs that lead to nowhere or take a look at the natural foliage that has grown to intertwine with the sculptures. Take a look at the natural pools and waterfalls that flow throughout the scene or take a moment to mediate among the artwork and natural setting. Wander around the former orchid gardens that had been replaced with cement flowers after a frost killed the lot or play hide and seek while embracing the childish desires that are likely to form by just looking at the site. If you bring a towel and something to swim in, you can cool off in the natural pools and waterfalls. Just take your time and wander around to see what you discover or even better yet, to see what your mind does to comprehend this fantastic garden of surrealist work.

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