Mexico City Volcano Myth


Informant: Basically you grew up with all these legends and all these stories, but the most famous was La Llorona and the next famous is the famous is the story of the volcanoes that are actually in Mexico City. There’s two big Volcanoes, so there’s Popocatepetl? Which is hard to say, and… I forgot the lady’s name but I can look it up for you. So the legend goes that these two… a princess, kind of like a princess on like the Aztecs and a warrior, they fell in love. So the dad tells him to go fight for, you know, the… at the time of war the dad of the girl says “go fight and I’ll save my daughter for you, you know, you can be a hero and just come back and you can be… uh, you can marry her.” So he does. He leaves to war and she stays but there is this other guy that is in love with her, and he’s envi… you know like he envies his position and he says, “well, this is not going to happen,” so he poisons the girl, and she dies. When he comes back and he finds out that she’s dead, he just can’t take it. So there’s these different stories, but the one I know, it’s about him finding out… he comes back like a hero. He fights for country, and he finds out that she’s dead, so he goes to the highest mountain, supposedly this is the highest mountain in Mexico, and he lays her and he, um, holds a torch to keep her… he wants her to know he is there. So the legend is those two persons are those two volcanoes. If you go to Mexico City, you will see two mount- volcanoes, and one looks like a lady laying down next to the volcano that is, uh, Popocatepetl, and that volcano is pretty much… they said that when it makes the… like when there’s the… smoke coming out of it, it’s him saying he still loves her.

Interviewer: Aw, that part is cute. It’s a bit cute

Informant: Well, that’s good, but actually those two volcanoes are pretty famous in Mexico City because you can really see the image of a lady laying down and Popocatepetl, which is pretty active.


Context– The informant is a middle-aged Mexican immigrant who grew up in Mexico City and then immigrated to Los Angeles in her teenage years. She has many family members still in Mexico City, so she learned many of these legends from those family members both while growing up and during her frequent visits and phone conversations.


Analysis– This story interests me not only because of the origins of this story being seen in the natural landscape around Mexico City, but also because of the common tropes seen in folktales and legends. Common folktale tropes in this story can be seen in the main character being a princess, who is poisoned, the warrior being sent on a task to prove his love, and a villain getting in the way of the romance. I also find it interesting that this story is fueled by the natural characteristics of the volcanoes, such as the fact that smoke comes out from the one associated with the warrior and the fact that the one associated with the princess is shaped like a woman laying.

For another form of this legend see: “The Legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl” on Inside Mexico (