During the pre-Columbian era, a captivating Mexican legend unfolded, showcasing the profound beauty of the land. Set against the backdrop of the awe-inspiring volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl, this tragic love story revolves around two young Tlaxcaltecas hailing from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala.

In ancient times, when the Aztec Empire exerted its dominion over the Valley of Mexico, neighboring towns were subjected to heavy taxation. The chief of the Tlaxcaltecas, longstanding adversaries of the Aztecs, could no longer bear this oppressive burden and resolved to fight for the freedom of his people.

Among the chief’s children was the incomparable Princess Iztaccihuatl, renowned as the fairest of all princesses. She had fallen deeply in love with Popocatepetl, a valiant warrior from her father’s tribe, renowned for his striking handsomeness. The two young souls professed an unwavering love for one another, and before departing for battle, Popocatepetl approached the chief, seeking his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The chief gladly consented and made a promise to celebrate their union with great joy upon Popocatepetl’s triumphant return from the war. Filled with hope and determination, the brave warrior made all the necessary preparations and embarked on his journey, carrying within his heart the assurance that the princess would eagerly await their reunion to consummate their love.

However, a jealous rival of Popocatepetl, envious of the profound bond shared by the young lovers, deceitfully informed Princess Iztaccihuatl that her beloved had perished in combat.

Crushed by the weight of grief and consumed by sorrow, the princess succumbed to her despair and passed away, unaware of the falsehood that had shattered her spirit. Meanwhile, Popocatepetl emerged victorious from the battle, yearning to find his beloved princess. Yet, upon his return, he received the devastating news of Iztaccihuatl’s untimely demise.

Overwhelmed by anguish, he roamed the town aimlessly, haunted by his loss for countless days and nights. Determined to honor their love and ensure that Princess Iztaccihuatl would never be forgotten, Popocatepetl commanded the construction of an immense tomb beneath the sun. Ten hills were piled together to form a colossal mountain, symbolizing his eternal devotion.

Gently cradling the lifeless body of his princess in his arms, Popocatepetl ascended to the mountain’s summit and tenderly laid her to rest. With a loving kiss upon her cold lips, he took up a smoking torch and knelt before his beloved, forever guarding her eternal slumber. From that moment onward, they would remain together, forever facing one another.

As time passed, snow cloaked their bodies, transforming them into two colossal volcanoes, inseparable until the end of days. The legend continues that whenever Popocatepetl, the warrior, recalls his beloved, his heart, which preserves the fiery embers of eternal passion, trembles, causing his torch to emit smoke. Thus, to this day, the Popocatepetl volcano continues to release fumaroles.

This tale has been passed down from one generation to the next since the era of the Aztec Empire, dating back to the fourteenth century. The significance attached to these majestic volcanoes is evident, as they have borne the names bestowed upon them during that ancient time.


                                                                          ©Picture by Jakub Hejtmánek