Nota: Este contenido tiene una versión original en español

The Pico de Orizaba is an inactive volcano that shares territory between the states of Puebla and Veracruz with 67% and 33% of the National Park.

This volcano has multiple legends of its origin, its previous and current names. Therefore, we leave some facts, that you probably did not know, about one of the largest mountains in the world.

The Peak

The volcano is better known as Pico de Orizaba, since that is the name that has the National Park, and that was determined by the Commission of Natural Protected Areas in Mexico.

In addition, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), has it that way in the Registry of Continental, Insular and Submarine Geographic Names for Statistical and Geographic Purposes.

Some local legends tell that the name Pico de Orizaba, comes from a long time ago, in the time of the Olmecs, when there lived a warrior named Nahuani.

According to the story, Nahuani was a brave woman who was always accompanied by her faithful eagle friend, Ahuilizapan, which means "Orizaba".

One day, Nahuani had to face one of the greatest battles and was defeated. Ahuilizapan, deeply disconsolate, rose to the highest point of the sky, dropping heavily to the earth.

In the place where she fell an enormous mountain began to form. With the passage of time, this mountain became a huge volcano.

It is said that, one day Ahuilizapan remembered what one day happened to her friend and warrior, and let out her fury, thus causing the immense eruptions of the volcano.

Other names

Its first name: Poyautécatl

It is said that his first name was Poyautécatl, which was in representation of the god called the same way in pre-Hispanic times. This god belonged to the Poyauhtlán region, which was founded by Teochichimecas or Tlaxcaltecas, who were one of the seven Nahuatlac tribes.

Poyautécatl (Nahuatl "puyahua"-to color and from "tecatl"-person or people) which means "the one who colors things". This, because people who had an illness related to the cold, had a drawing made on the volcano and gave offerings to it.

Pico de Orizaba
Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico, above the Popocatepetl (Photo: Juan Carlos Sánchez Díaz / Express Media)


Pico de Orizaba may also be known as "Citlaltépetl" ("citlalli"-star and "tépetl"-mountain or hill) which means "Mountain of the Star".

According to the inhabitants of Coscomatepec (municipality near the volcano) the name was attributed to it, because during the autumn and winter seasons, the planet Venus (the brightest star in the firmament) can be observed advancing over the crater of the volcano during the night.

More names

In colonial times it was known as "Cerro de San Andrés", due to its proximity to the town of San Andrés Chalchicomula in Chalchicomula de Sesma.

It has received other names such as "Nuestra Señora de las Nieves", when European sailors saw it in 1518 and so called it. Also some settlers knew it as "Sierra de Maltrata" and "Sierra de Tecamachalco".

Eight general facts

1. Although it caused disturbance by the announced by INEGI, they actually state that, the Pico de Orizaba is located between the municipalities of: Tlachichuca, Chalchicomula de Sesma and Atzitzintla in Puebla, and La Perla and Calchahualco in Veracruz.

2. From the summit, the Jampa, Blanco, Cotaxtla, Metlac and Orizaba rivers descend. All are part of the Papaloapan watershed, which carry water to at least 6 municipalities in Puebla and 25 in Veracruz.

3. It is the third highest mountain in North America, surpassed by Denali (or Mount McKinley) in Alaska with 6,145 meters, and Mount Logan in Yukon, Canada with 5,958 meters.

4. It has another volcano within the protected area, called Sierra Negra, located in the state of Puebla between the municipalities of Chalchicomula de Sesma and Atzitzintla.

It is 4,580 meters above sea level and at its summit is located the Gran Telescopio Milimétrico Alfonso Serrano. Single-dish, moveable telescope designed by scientists at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) and the University of Massachusetts in the United States.

5. In 2015, they found mummified bodies on the Pico de Orizaba on the side of Chalchicomula de Sesma, Puebla and were in an exhibition at the Casa "La Magnolia" Museum.

6. There was a guard dog or living on the top of the mountain, who took care of the climbers, his name was Citla or "snow dog" and helped people, even saved lives.

7.There is also another legend, where the inhabitants of nearby areas tell that one day the god Quetzalcoatl climbed the slopes of the volcano, looking for the path to eternity. Once he reached the crater, fire engulfed him and burned him, but his soul took the form of the quetzal bird.

It is said that the ashes that remained floating in the air covered the sun for four days, and then the bird flew away revealing its brilliant plumage that looked like a star in the firmament, and since then, it has been called Citlaltépetl.

LEE TAMBIÉN: What is Popocatepetl like inside?

8. Within the legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, according to mythology, the Tlaxcalteca who lied to "the sleeping woman" about the death of her beloved, tell that he went to die very close to his land and also became a volcano: the Pico de Orizaba.

The locals say that from there, in the distance, she watches over the eternal sleep of the two lovers she could never separate.

Translation done by: Karla Giselle Bonales Ramírez