16th Century Convents & Chapels
When Hernan Cortes led the Spanish Conquest of Mexico in 1519, he was accompanied by Franciscan, Dominican and Augustine friars to convert the population to Catholicism, built convents as schools for children, and erect chapels in Morelos state where Cortes had built his Palace in Cuernavaca. These convents and chapels remain, many in use and open most days. As Morelos is Mexico’s second-smallest state, driving is seldom arduous. In Cuernavaca, start at the Cathedral de la Asuncion, downtown, 1526; San Jose in the Tlaltenango neighborhood, 1521, first chapel on the American continent, and churches of San Miguel Arcangel in Acapantzingo neighborhood and San Jeronimo in San Jeronimo neighborhood, believed to date from the 1500s; Nearby in Jiutepec is Santiago el Mayor, begun in 1525. Tepoztlán has La Natividad, 1560, used as headquarters or jail by French soldiers accompanying Maximilian of Hapsburg who ruled Mexico 1864-1867, and in 1935, declared historic monument and museum by Presidential Decree. In Yautepec, La Asuncion, 1567, and in Oaxtepec, Santo Domingo, 1526., where first botanical garden in America was cultivated by Aztecs. Farther afield, Ocuituco’s Santiago Apostol, 1533, was first Augustinian convent in America, and where Fray Juan de Zumárraga learned he was designated the First Archbishop of New Spain.