The remains of Hernán Cortés lie – almost anonymously – in a CDMX church, but the story of how they got there is as dramatic as the conquest

Hours before he died, Hernán Cortés asked his family to build a Convent south of New Spain to be buried there; It didn’t happen that way. However, sooner or later the remains of the conqueror arrived in our country, and now they lie – almost anonymously – in the Jesus de Nazareno Church, located in the heart of Mexico City ( CDMX ).

The story of how the remains of Hernán Cortés arrived at that temple is as dramatic as the conquest itself.

The distance between the church and the capital base is not very large.

The temple is next to the Jesus Hospital and was built with stones from the ancient Aztec temples, according to Jorge Pedro Uribe, chronicler of Mexico City.

Next to the main altar, at an almost imperceptible point, stands an austere red plaque with gold-colored letters to indicate that the remains of the Spanish conqueror rest there.


When Cortes landed in the New World, he decided to destroy his own ships (to have no choice but to stay), and with the help of some groups of indigenous allies, he began the conquest.

He succeeded: in 1521 he defeated the Aztec empire and led the new colony, which would rule for several years.

But his rebellion before the power caused him bad relations with the nobility, which he maintained until his last days in Spain, where he lost his life at 62, with several debts and sick.


Building a convent in the south of Mexico City, to be buried there, was the conqueror’s last wish; however, his family could not fulfill it.

In 1566, the remains were sent to a church north of New Spain, to be buried with his mother, chronicler and journalist Héctor de Mauleón told AFP .

When the last male heir of Cortes died, he was ordered to be buried with the Spanish conqueror in a Franciscan monastery of the CDMX, where later Hernán’s remains were locked in the main altar.

A church adjacent to the Hospital de Jesus (the first in America and founded by Cortes himself), was the next destination of the remains.

In 1810, Mexico began its battle for the independence of Spain, and after 11 years of struggle, it got it.

In the midst of the freedom obtained, Mexico City wanted to persecute all Spaniards, so Hernán’s remains were in danger.

For more than a century – according to Mauleón – the destiny of Cortes’ remains was a mystery since the writer and historian Lucas Alamán decided to hide them after noticing the mood of the newly independent.

According to the AFP agency, the historian Francisco de la Maza was invited to a meeting in 1946 by a Spanish civil war refugee and a Cuban student, who revealed that Aleman left a letter with a map that led to the remains of Hernán. 

They had remained inside the same church, hidden behind a temple wall, in what is now known as Iglesia Jesus de Nazareno, in the heart of Mexico City. 

This last location was not accidental either, because it is believed that it was in this place wherein 1519 the first encounter between the Tlatoani Mexica Moctezuma II and Hernán Cortés took place. 

At least this is confirmed by a mural that is outside this temple, however for the chronicler Jorge Pedro Uribe this data is wrong because “it is too close to the ceremonial center of Tenochtitlan.”

Then a secret excavation was carried out and a group of experts confirmed that they were the remains of the Spanish conqueror. 

He was returned to the same place by government orders, with an austere plaque, which still remains and says: “Hernán Cortés, 1485-1547”.

Source: reporte indigo

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