Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico – Springtime is a good time to check out the tianguis (flea market) in Tonalá, just a 4 1/2 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta. Although everyone thinks Tonalá is in Guadalajara, it’s actually a municipality of Jalisco, bordered by Juanacatlán, Tlaquepaque, Zapotlanejo, El Salto and Guadalajara.
The tianguis includes everything from pottery to antique furniture and is open only on Thursdays and Sundays. There is a minimum of 4000 craftsmen and vendors to choose from, especially during the Christmas and Easter holidays when tourism is high, but there’s always plenty to see (and buy!) year-round.
The name Tonalá comes from the indigenous Nahuatl Tonallán, which means “this is where the sun rises” and it’s surely when the heart of the city comes to life. In the early morning hours tables are set up and spread with millions of handcrafted items.
Incredible ironwork is available, either off the shelf or made to order. Simple or ornate, ironwork can be created and delivered to Puerto Vallarta for a very reasonable price. In darkened doorways, glassblowers form goblets, bowls, chandeliers and tiny dollhouse pieces.
Paper flowers materialize from creative hands; all colors, shapes and sizes. Objects made from tin and brass, and the famous Mexican cartoneria (colorfully painted dolls, animals, clowns and toys) is everywhere.
The selection of woodworking and furniture is overwhelming and must be given a complete day to itself for proper selection. As far back as pre-Hispanic times, Tonalá has been widely known as a popular ceramics center and even boasts its very own design, the Flor de Tonalá (Tonalá flower), which can be found on bowls, vases, platters and just about anything you can think of made of fired clay.
We highly recommend a visit to Tonalá if you are visiting Puerto Vallarta. Tonalá is not just for shopping. Before heading back to Puerto Vallarta, one should see the exhibition hall and the museum at the Puebla-Museo. An astonishing collection of antique ceramics and contemporary designs is not to be missed, as well as the compellation of miniatures.
Another essential stop is the Capilla de la Cruz (Chapel of the White Cross) where first mass was presented by Franciscan monks; and the Santiago Apostal Parish, built in 1830 and one of the oldest standing churches in the country.
We usually stay in Tlaquepaque, where the night streets are quiet and there’s an abundance of places to stay. Guadalajara is where we reside when we plan to do a bit more partying and stay out late. It’s the Tonalá sunrise that we don’t want to miss.
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