The Palace of Cortes in Cuernavaca, Mexico, is the oldest conserved colonial era civil structure on the continental Americas, being almost 500 years old. The building began as a fortified residence for Hernan Cortés and his second wife Juana Zuniga. It was built in 1526, over a Tlahuica/Aztec tribute collection center, which was destroyed by the Spanish during the Conquest. Cortés replaced it with a personal residence to assert authority over the newly conquered peoples. As Cortés’ residence, it reached its height in the 1530s, but the family eventually abandoned it. In the 18th century, colonial authorities had the structure renovated and used it as a barracks and jail. During the Mexican War of Independence, it held prisoners such as Jose María Morelos y Pavon. After the war, it became the seat of government for the state of Morelos until the late 20th century, when the state government moved out and the structure was renovated and converted into the current Museo Regional Cuauhnahuac, or regional museum, with exhibits on the history of Morelos.