Ancient Aztec ruins found in Mexico City

Behind the facade of this unassuming building in downtown Mexico City archaelogists have made an unexpected discovery.

Ancient Aztec ruins from a palace destroyed by Spanish conquerors, unearthed during building renovations at the Nacional Monte de Piedad.

Archaeologist Raul Barrera describes the delicate operation:

"We have to take many precautionary measures so as to not have problems with sinking ground. We have to take advice from specialists, from engineers to know where we can or cannot dig, so as not to damage the historic building."

Barrera says the ruins once belonged to Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes.

Cortes, a Spanish conqueror who first arrived in Mexico in 1518, reportedly stayed in the destroyed palace shortly after arriving in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.

"The house where Hernan Cortes resided was built with basalt blocks and tezontle blocks. These materials are the product of the destruction of the Axayacatl palace. We know that the palace of Axayacatl was there at the excavated site because of various documents, such as the descriptions given by the Spanish conquerors."

After Tenochtitlan and the Axayacatl palace fell to Spanish conquerers, the residents were reportedly forced to destroy their temples and palaces.

Those remains are what make up the foundations -- of what we now know as modern-day Mexico City.

Video Transcript

- Behind the facade of this unassuming building in downtown Mexico City, archaeologists have made an unexpected discovery. Ancient Aztec ruins from a palace destroyed by Spanish conquerors unearthed during building renovations at the Nacional Monte de Piedad. Archaeologist Raul Barrera describes the delicate operation.

RAUL BARRERA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

INTERPRETER: We have to take many precautionary measures so as not to have problems with sinking ground. We have to take advice from specialists, from engineers who know where we can or cannot dig so as not to damage the historic building.

- Barrera says the ruins once belonged to Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes. Cortes, a Spanish conqueror who first arrived in Mexico in 1518, reportedly stayed in the destroyed palace shortly after arriving in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.

RAUL BARRERA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

INTERPRETER: The house where Hernan Cortes resided was built with basalt and tezontle blocks. These materials are the product of the destruction of the Axayacatl palace. We know that the palace of Axayacatl was there at the excavated sight because of various documents, like the descriptions given by Spanish conquerors.

- After Tenochtitlan and the Axayacatl palace fell to Spanish conquerors, the residents were reportedly forced to destroy their temples and palaces. The remains of those temples and palaces are what make up the foundations of what we now know as modern day Mexico City.