Biography and History of Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado- Death and Burial in Antigua Guatemala

The burial site of Pedro de Alvarado in Antigua Guatemala is one that sometimes attracts interest from tourists as the final resting place of a renowned conquistador. Pedro de Alvarado died in 1541, years after he first founded the town in which he would later die and about thirty years after he first started his career as a ruthless and cruel explorer.

The Spanish conquistadors were legendary adventurers. Serving both the Spanish and Portuguese empires, they were valuable because they opened new trade routes and recovered territories that had been taken by Muslim states. Unwittingly, conquistadors such as Pedro de Alvarado also helped to spread diseases from one part of the world to the next.

Some of the more famous conquistadors made their mark on history by driving out people from before them and claiming land for the governments that they worked for. Their job was filled with risk but these men took on the challenges readily because they wanted to increase their own status and that of their descendants. These famous explorers include:

  • Herman Cortes
  • Pedro de Alvarado
  • Juan Ponce de Leon
  • Hernando de Soto
  • Francisco Pizarro

Like other warriors of his time, Pedro de Alvarado utilized the gear that the adventurers relied on to keep them alive in unknown territory. Combat dogs, firearms and guns were applied when necessary, to defeat native soldiers. Although not necessary, he allowed the men who worked with him to boil and eat the Indian natives that they killed.

Perhaps his skill in using these horrible methods has been hard to forget. When Pedro de Alvarado died in Antigua, his grave was not marked with a tombstone that indicated that anyone of great importance was buried there. While his grave site has fallen into ruin, his remains have not been moved to another location. He is rare in that he participated in almost all of the major expeditions, including the ones to the Aztec, Inca and Mayan kingdoms.

The city of Antigua in Guatemala was founded by Pedro de Alvarado. It now serves as his resting place. His tomb can be seen there in the Main Cathedral of Antigua, housing his remains after he was crushed by a horse accidentally. The cathedral fell into ruin after it collapsed during an earthquake in 1773. Only a part of it was renovated.

Pedro de Alvarado died while on route to help Cristobal de Onate. Onate was seeking to crush a revolt by the Mixton people who had built their homes in the land for generations. Pedro de Alvarado’s wife successfully took over his political position and was killed a few weeks later in a flood.

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