Visit the Former Palace of Famous Conquistador Hernán Cortés

In Magical Towns by Suzanne Koch

Anywhere worthy of constructing a palace is worth a visit. At the center of Cuernavaca, also known as the “city of eternal spring” due to its ideal year-round weather, lies the oldest preserved colonial building in the Americas, the Palace of Cortés. The palatial home was built by famous conquistador Hernán Cortés after the Aztecs were defeated. It was completed in 1535 and built atop a former gathering place of indigenous rulers.

As with many defeats in history, the battle generally doesn’t end there. For that reason, Cortés made sure the fortress was able to stand up against any attacks. Cortés and his wife Doña Juana de Zuñiga lived there often and was the site of planning to search for gold in what is now California.

Over the years, the palace passed through generations of the family before eventually being abandoned. Since then, it’s served as an iron works, a tannery, barracks and jailhouse to many big names from the Mexican War of Independence like José María Morelos y Pavon.

Today, the palace is the Cuauhnáhuac Regional Museum and open to visitors. Guests can browse exhibits spread across 19 rooms that showcase the local history from prehistoric times through the Mexican Revolution. There’s even a stunning mural from Diego Rivera, Historia del Estado de Morelos, that can be seen on the upstairs balcony.

Visit Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided visits are available.

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