Cuexcomate – Puebla, Mexico - Atlas Obscura


The "world's smallest volcano" has been used to store meals and dispose of dead bodies. 


Standing a diminutive 43 feet tall, Cuexcomate is commonly known as the world’s smallest volcano. However it’s technically it’s not a volcano, but a geyser. The little mountain was allegedly born out of an eruption from the most famous volcano in Mexico, the Popocatépetl or “Popo.” Either way, it’s one of the cutest and most formidable attractions in the colonial city of Puebla.

When indigenous people discovered this tiny volcano, they realized the temperature was cool inside, perfect for storing meals and grains to keep them fresh. This is why it’s known as Cuexcomate, meaning a small bowl to save things in.

Later, when the Spanish conquered Puebla, it became a colonial tradition to dump the bodies of suicide victims inside the little volcano, so as to “send them to hell.” Though this practice has ceased, people living in La Libertad neighborhood around Cuexcomate are still sometimes jokingly known as “sons of the devil’s belly button.”

Though Popo is still active, releasing gas and ash as recently as August of 2016, Cuexcomate has been declared inactive, its last eruption being sometime in the early 1660s. As such, people can descend down into the volcano, where (once their eyes have adjusted to the darkness) they’ll see an underground stream and waterfall pouring into a hole. People believe that the one hole at the very bottom of the “volcano” is its mouth, feeding in from the larger reserves of Popocatépetl. If you hold your hand above the water you can feel heat radiating from it.

The people use this hole to make wishes with the help of the mother nature’s power. It may be prudent to wish that the little volcano remains dormant. Despite its inactivity, Cuexcomate could still erupt someday, and locals are occasionally evacuated in preparation.

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