The Xaltepec Volcano is one of the best known peaks, and the third tallest, in the Sierra de Santa Catarina mountain range. It’s among the most visually striking as about 2,567 meters above sea level. Nearly entirely in Tláhuac, most of the chain runs along the border with Iztapalapa.
Sometimes referred to as “Cerro de la Cruz,” it’s an especially important figure to residents of Santiago Zapotitlán. Zapotitlan was founded here in 1435. However, there is scarce evidence of some habitation even prior to the Xitle volcano eruptions between 245-315 CE.
The Nahuatl name can be translated from xalli, “sand” and tepec, a shortened form of the word tepetl, meaning “hill.” It’s more than a “hill of sand” though.
The mountain has been seriously degraded by many years of tezontle, basalt, and sand extraction. But this is nothing new. Scientists from UNAM definitively determined that parts of the Templo Mayor were mined here between 1430 and 1500.
The southern slopes of the Xaltepec Volcano and those of Tetepec are particularly beloved in Tláhuac. These were awarded as farmland by the Dominicans in 1582. Although a major landslide followed the earthquakes of 2017, much of the mountain is protected today. It’s not just valuable for wildlife. It’s also an especially important source of captured rainwater that leeches into the City’s watersheds.