Aztec architecture

Aztec architecture reflects the values ​​and civilization of an empire, and studying Aztec architecture is essential to understanding the history of the Aztecs, including their migration from one side of Mexico to the other and their new representation of religious rituals. The best way to describe Aztec architecture is as monumental. Its purpose was to manifest power, and at the same time adhere to strong religious beliefs. This is evident in the design of its temples, shrines, palaces, and houses for the townspeople.


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  • 1 Origin
  • 2 Order and symmetry
  • 3 Religious architecture
  • 4 Pyramids
  • 5 Great Constructions
  • 6 Sources
  • 7 External links


The term Aztec, together with those of Mexica and Tenochca, is used today to designate the people who arrived in the Valley of Mexico from Aztlán, a mythical place located in northern Mesoamerica . The art Aztec is essentially an art to the service of the state, a language used by the company to convey their vision of the world, strengthening its own identity against that of foreign cultures. With a marked political-religious component, Aztec art is expressed through music and literature, but also through architecture and sculpture, making use of supports as varied as musical instruments, stone , ceramics, paper or pens. The first thing that attracts attention is the Aztec assimilation of the previous artistic traditions and the personal imprint that they gave to their manifestations. Aztec art is violent and rough but it hints at an intellectual complexity and sensitivity that speak of its enormous symbolic richness.

Order and symmetry

The Aztecs were well organized and had a strong infrastructure and systems that mobilized people and material resources with the aim of constructing large buildings that would satisfy the needs of their inhabitants. Tenochtitlán, the capital city, symbolized Aztec power. Aztec architecture, which was similar to that of other Mesoamerican cultures, possessed an innate sense of order and symmetry. The geometric designs and long lines were representations of religious dogmas and the power of the state. Furthermore, the Aztecs used bas-reliefs, walls, squares, and platforms as means by which to represent their gods and ideals. During the different epochs of the empire, the Aztecs added new techniques and materials to their structures. Examples of the monumentality and grandeur of the Aztecs are evident in the Templo Mayor, whose plaza could accommodate 8,000 people, and in the Tlatelolco market, which could house 20,000 people on market days. The Aztec architectural adaptation and ingenuity can be seen in Malinalco,

Religious architecture

The architecture religious develops along the lines of the Mesoamerican tradition, although there are important contributions. The most original type of construction is that of the twin temples, with double access stairways. Although the best known is that of Tenayuca , the main temples of Tlatelolco and Tenochtitlán also respond to this model . It is a dual representation of the divinities that existed in Mesoamerica since ancient times. The placement of pairs of gods, such as the Huitzilopochtli – Tláloc of the greater temple of Tenochtitlán, on a single pyramidal platform, makes its structure elongated and presents a double access stairway. In this case, the excavations carried out by the doctorEduardo Matos Moctezuma revealed a series of up to seven successive periods or reconstructions between 1375 and 1520 .


Among the most common architectural types we cannot fail to mention the square or rectangular pyramid temples with a single access stairway in the front, delimited by two smooth alfardas. Many of the Tenochtitlan pyramids followed this model. Another relatively frequent model is the circular pyramid that has traditionally been attributed to sanctuaries of the god Ehécatl, deity of the wind, that in its aspect of whirlwind or hurricane could make this form logical. The best known are the one in Calixtlahuaca and the one in the Pino Suárez metro station. Another very characteristic construction of the Aztecs is a type of platform decorated with skulls, which formed the base of the tzompantli, a structure where the skulls of the sacrificed were accumulated. Only a small altar is preserved that is in the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico and the one recently discovered in the excavations of the greater temple.

Big constructions

Two of the most extraordinary architectural creations of the Aztecs were Tepoztlán and Malinalco, both carved out of the rock and finished with masonry constructions. The temple of Tepoztlán is rectangular in plan and has two rooms: the first is accessed through a door divided by two pilasters, while in the back there is a continuous bench decorated with reliefs that could very well be funeral insignia. The whole of the temple rests on a pyramidal platform with staircases limited by alfardas. For its part, Malinalco is an irregular set of Templar constructions excavated in the bedrock, made up of six units, of which four at least have a circular shape. Structure I is the most elaborate of the site and represents a sculptural ensemble of impressive beauty.


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