a view from the hill in 2008
El Cerrito means small hill in English and that is what it is, a small hill plunked down in the middle of the hilly slope that
leads to the edge of the Catemaco lake.

The hill is more or less round, about 35 feet tall and capped by a concrete structure.

Over the last 50 years the hill has become the geographic center of the city of Catemaco, and various streets lead
away from it, similar to many zocalos in Mexico.

Its history is debatable. Nothing is actually known, although local residents believe it to be covering a pre-hispanic
temple. No archaeological excavation has ever been done on the hill.

The hill is similar to hundreds of others that a civilization with roots in Teotihuacan built in the  the vicinity of Catemaco
between 450 and 1000 AD.  There is  no indication of a relation to the 1500BC - 250AD Olmec empire.

Some naysayers attribute the hill to the accumulation of soil created when the first road to enter Catemaco was built.
El Cerrito
Catemaco, Veracruz
There is folklore indicating that Popoluca Indians
(supposed remnants of the Olmecs) made yearly
processions to the hill with a stone figure of Homshuk,
their god of corn.

The 60 cm tall figure was first described by
Frans Blom,
a Danish explorer, in 1925. He saw it sitting atop a rock
outside a wooden house within the pueblo. It was
supposedly unearthed on Tenaspi Island within the
Catemaco lake, and guessed to date to the Olmec era.
For a while the figure was in the nearby village La
Victoria, but it is now in the Xalapa museum.

In the early 1950's the hill was in use by local residents
as bleachers to get a free view of the rodeos happening
in the nearby fields of what is now known as the
Colonia El Rodeo.

In 1973, Alberto Uscanga Escobar, the then mayor
(1973-1976) constructed the concrete building atop the
hill. Decorations of the Virgin of Guadalupe soon

Over the years the hill was nicely decorated with a
garden in the shape of the emblem of Catemaco and
now attracts residents with a panoramic view of the city

Graffiti and general garbage began to destroy the
building atop the hill until the 2008-2010 mayor located
the city's trash collectors office atop the hill.

In the 2011-2013 administration, interest in the hill was
renewed and, for the first time in Catemaco's known
history,  the hill was painted pure white to accommodate
the initiation ceremonies of the "Primer Viernes en
Marzo" festival.
In this photo from the 1960's, the hilll can be seen in the upper left corner
The hill in March 2011
Photo: Videomania