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News > Mexico

Mexico: Aztec Palace Found Under Capital's Historical Center

  • Nacional Monte de Piedad building in Mexico City

    Nacional Monte de Piedad building in Mexico City | Photo: Twitter/ @INAHmx

Published 14 July 2020

The building played a major role in the conquest of Mexico.

Remnants of an ancient palace related to the monarch Moctezuma and the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés have been found under the Monte Piedad building in the historic center of Mexico City, authorities announced on Monday.


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According to a press release by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) studies allowed them to conclude that this was the home of Hernán Cortés, once the sacred city of Tenochtitlan, upon which the Mexico City´s historical center is currently erected, fell in 1521. 

However, the most surprising finding is that beneath the conqueror's house, more than three meters deep, the remains of another floor of slabs of basalt, but from pre-Hispanic times, were identified.
Archaeologists Raúl Barrera and José María García carried out an intensive excavation, locating the remains of a room made of basalt ashlars and tezontle, measuring five by four meters. The investigation concluded that the structures belong to the Axayácatl Palace.

The palace was home to Axayácatl, the father of Moctezuma. History records point out that when the Spanish arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519, Moctezuma ordered that his father's Palace should serve as accommodation for Cortés and his troops.

"INAH archaeologists found vestiges of the Axayácatl Palace and a house built by Cortés' order in the CDMX."

Later, inside the Axayácatl palace, Moctezuma died, after being imprisoned by Cortés. Experts remarks that, following its destruction by the Spanish conqueror, who turned the building into his headquarters, the building played a major role in the conquest of Mexico.

"Embedded in the façade of the southeast interior corner of the colonial room, two pre-Hispanic ashlars works in high relief were detected, representing a feathered serpent (Quetzalcóatl) and a feather headdress, which must have belonged to a panel in the Axayácatl Palace. Also, forming part of a shaft, another Mexican sculpture was registered with the glyph that symbolizes the tianquiztli or market ”, the INAH description of the findings says.

Currently, the Monte Piedad building is the base of a private assistance institution dedicated to social financing through pledge loans. During the last two decades, archaeologists have been exploring the foundations of the building, digging about 12 boreholes around the main courtyard of the Monte de Piedad National. 

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