The Xitle volcano is a major presence in the south of Mexico City. The volcano simply appeared one day in roughly the 245 CE. It then erupted violently over the next 70 years until about 315 CE. In the process it destroyed the ancient city of Cuicuilco. Some of those who fled are thought to have contributed to the rise of Teotihuacan. That city was only on the ascendent at the time. The eruption is still considered the birth of a new era in Meso-American history as the Cuicuilco people were the most advanced of their time.
Unlike Pompeii at the foot of Vesuvias, covered in soft preservative ash, Xitle emitted a giant flow of lava. This solidified into an iron-hard rock today called the Pedregal. It extends over an enormous area that makes up much of the south of Mexico City.
The name we use today comes from the Nahuatl, xictli, and means simply “navel.” The mountain would remain an important icon over the next thousand years until the end of the ancient period. Largely covered in trees and wildlife today, it’s a popular site for organized tours and hikes. But the site has been visited for centuries by religious processions. The Feast of the Holy Cross on May 3 is but one of the most prominent Roman Catholic rites celebrated here.
Visitors to the volcano will generally arrive by rental car or taxi. The trip from the center of San Miguel Ajusco to the western slopes takes about 15 minutes in a taxi. Some guests will combine a hike with a trip to the San Nicolas Totolapan park.