Aztec Architecture

Randi Ladd
General Information
Symbolism was the main focus of their architecture
Aztec architecture reflects the values and civilization
of an empire
Prior to Axayacatl, Aztec architecture was not large
 Best
described as monumental.
 Its purpose was to manifest power, while at the same
time adhering to strong religious beliefs.
 Evident in the design of the temples, shrines, palaces,
and everyday homes.
Capital City
city plan was based on
a symmetrical layout
that was divided into
four city sections
called Campans
Architectural Materials
Locally found & imported
wood, straw, stone, sand, lime, and clay.
Adobe bricks
 water,
sand, clay, and a material such as straw
Construction of Homes
Size varied based upon
Same basic pattern
followed for all
Houses of families were
sometimes built together
Sometimes stone walls in
the ground would be
added to the lot, to keep
the soil from washing
15-25 square meters (5082ft).
A common roof in an
Aztec house would be a
peaked straw roof.
Very close fitting stones
and thick walls
Aztec Homes
Based on the climate
Only 1 door in the home
 Square
in shape and located
on one wall
Commoners lived in 1 room
homes w/ thatched roofs
 Split
into 4 equal areas
 Area for sleep, meal
preparation, eating, and a
Noble Aztec Homes
Typically 2 stories tall
Located in the central
Had many flowers
Both noble and
commoner homes were
built with adobe
The climate aided this
 Noble homes sometimes
made of better material
(lime or stone)
Aztec Aqueducts
“The Great Aqueduct”
 Chapultepec
Twin pipe construction
Made of compact earth and wood
Supply the city of Tenochtitlan with fresh water
Only a small section, about twenty-two arches long,
still survives today
Aztec Temples
Tlaloc and
Pyramids of the Sun and Moon
Sun pyramid is the 3rd largest in the
At the peak (it is believed) they were
plastered and painted bright red
Ideas about their architecture were
taken from these temples
The Step Pyramid
Built by people other than the Aztecs
Large w/ multiple layers of stone
Built mainly for religious purposes
 Symmetrical
 Side
steps with a temple located on top
 Specifically designed serpent heads at the bottom of
the pyramid
 Symbolized mountains
The Step Pyramid (cont…)
Blocks that were used in the pyramid were carved
into geometric shapes
Used color in their pyramids
 Black
= north
 Blue = south
 Red = east
 White = west
 These were also in relation to the particular God that ruled
that direction
Other types of pyramids
Round Pyramid
Constructed in a
circular fashion
 This
was to facilitate
circulation of the wind
 Direct the wind toward
the heavens…
Twin Stairs Pyramid
Example = Templo
Temples were high in
height because the
Gods lived in the
Templo Mayor
Discovered in the heart
of Mexico City
Construction began
after 1325 AD
 Enlarged
over the next
two centuries
Center of religious life
Destroyed by the
Why was Templo Mayor built?
In honor of the God of War and the
God of Water
Gods were appeased by human
sacrifices which were performed on the
Referred to by the Aztecs as Coatepec
Physical Architecture of Templo Mayor
Large stone pyramid
2 Wide staircases up the front
Twin temples located on top
Carved round stone on the on lower platform
Snake heads carved into the foot of the staircase
What is left behind of Templo Mayor?
Tzompantli-Shrine or
Wall of Skulls
Two identical life-size
clay statues of Aztec
warriors dressed in
eagle costumes
stone eagle
Largest monument
base of 450 by 450 m
(1476x1476 ft)
height of 66 m (217
total volume estimated
at over 4.45 million m³
How were things built?
Metal was unknown to the Aztecs
Cords and wedges would be used to cut stone
Sand and water = adhesives
Skilled craftsman
 Chisels
 Hard
 Obsidian blades

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