Located in the jungles of Mexico, Las Pozas is a Surrealist’s dream come true. Part Eden, sculpture garden, secret city, and something else entirely, the "Pools" were created by Edward James, an eccentric British aristocrat, poet, and patron of Surrealist art.
James discovered Xilitla, a mountainous town seven hours north of Mexico City, in 1945 with guide and eventual friend Plutarco Gastelum, and decided that he would build his surrealist garden there. Starting in 1949 and working over several decades until his death in 1984 James, Gastelum, and a crew of 150 locals created 36 concrete Surrealist sculptures over 80 acres of lush land that included natural waterfalls and pools. The project cost more than $5 million, a significant portion of which came from the sale of his extensive art collection.
The project first began as a flower garden and a menagerie of sorts for animals, but when a frost wiped out his orchids in 1962—it is said that he had 29,000 of them at one point—James began constructing a "perpetual" garden inspired by the flowers, the Huastecan jungle surrounding him, and, of course, the Surrealist art movement he so adored.
The structures are both architectural and sculptural, with gothic arches, spiral staircases, terraces, pavilions, and columns with floral capitals populating the space in a seemingly random fashion. There are also stones snakes and a bath shaped like an eye. But taken together, they make up a fantastical world that only a true eccentric (and self-professed megalomaniac) could dream up. Indeed, Salvador Dali called James "crazier than all the Surrealists together."
Today, the grounds are open to the public and are maintained by Fondo Xilitla. Take a look around and prepare to be transported to a magical place.