In Mexico's capital, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a house of the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés on the foundations of a palace belonging to the Aztec ruler Axayácatl. The house where Cortés reportedly lived for several years, and which temporarily served as the first administrative seat of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, was built in part from the ruins of the palace, according to Mexico's National Institute for Anthropology and History.

Researchers have found remnants of the Axayácatl palace under the main building of the Nacional Monte de Piedad pawnshop in the historic center of Mexico City in the past two decades. During excavations there in 2017 and 2018, a room made of basalt and lava stone was also found. Axayácatl ruled in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan from 1469 to 1481 and was the last ruler of his empire, during whose reign no conquests by Europeans fell.

Analyzes have now shown that it was the home of the conquistador Cortés after the conquest of Tenochtitlan. An open part of the palace, probably an inner courtyard, had been discovered under this room. The researchers found stone reliefs of pre-Hispanic motifs in the facade of the room. The discoveries were made in the course of renovation work on the pawnshop building. The construction of the building from 1755 is to be stabilized.

Aztec civilization wiped out

Tenochtitlan was one of the largest cities in the world with more than 200,000 inhabitants when the Spaniards under Cortés arrived there in 1519 and disempowered the then ruler Moctezuma II. Within two years they razed the city and wiped out Aztec civilization. On and with the rubble of Tenochtitlan, they built the new capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, Mexico City. Moctezuma II died in the palace of his father Axayácatl in 1520.