Paso de Cortés

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The Paso de Cortés is the mountain pass or saddle between the Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanoes in central México. It forms part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, and is a place where the normally southeast-tending continental divide heads north for over 10 miles. The altitude of the pass is about 3400 m. (11,150 ft.) It is located in the Municipality of Amecameca in the State of Mexico.


The name derives from the passage of Conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men over it in 1519. After the battle of Cholula, continued northwest into the valley of Mexico and city of Tenochtitlán to confront the Aztecs and their emperor Moctezuma. It is claimed that some of Cortés' men climbed Popocatépetl at this time, lowered into the crater, and brought back sulphur for making gunpowder.


There is a paved road from Amecameca on the Mexico City side up to the Paso de Cortés, and from there south to Tlamacas toward Popocatépetl or north to the area near the feet of Ixtaccíhuatl. The Paso can also be reached on dirt trails from Cholula, at least sometimes passable by 4-wheel-drive vehicles.

Coordinates: 19°05′12″N 98°38′49″W / 19.0867°N 98.64694°W / 19.0867; -98.64694