Aztec, Mayan, and Incan Architecture
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the new world, they found that they had a wall of jungle in from of them. After they pushed through the growth, fended off mosquito herds, and chopped down the trees, the found a culture unlike any other. They had found the Aztec civilization.
This dark, pulsating, war-like tribe had settled down on what is now Mexico City because of an ancient prophecy. When an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake was spotted, that was the location the Aztec tribe was to settle down and cease their restless raiding.
The Aztecs founded the great city of Teotihuacan where they built massive sacrificial pyramids and laid out their streets in a grid dotted with temples everywhere.
The Aztec pyramids were usually of 4 stages with small platforms in-between. They usually had steps up all four sides and at the top, there was a temple with a sacrificial stone. The priests would take of the animal, or even a human sometimes, and cut out their heart. While the heart was still beating, they would present it to statues representing their gods. Even the most blood thirsty Spaniard felt sick at the sight of such a blood-stained city.
The Mayan civilization made its home from the Yucatan peninsula all the way down to Guatemala. They were more civilized and peaceful that the Aztecs. I guess you could say that the Mayan people were the scientists of the continent. They were very precise on their measurements and astronomical observations. One of their many temples, the Castillo at Chichén Itzá, had four staircases of 91 steps each, one step for every day of the year. This demonstrates that the Incan civilization knew how to incorporate the turning of the earth into buildings.
Most of the Mayan pyramids and temples were built for specific gods so that they could look out and see their jungle. The Mayans built many temples because there was a lot of stone around to build them with. One particularly neat view is from the top of the North Acropolis at Tikal. The view is of many tall slender pyramids sticking up above the trees.
I dont know much about Incan architecture, but what I do know is fascinating. The capital of the Incan race was at Cuzco which is now in Peru. Many Incan villages are set up very high in the Andes. The altitude here is so great that some of the guards on the trains offer the passengers oxygen. There is evidence of a great communication network, many roads, bridges, aqueducts, and irrigation.
I think that the most impressive Incan sight is of the hill fortress Machu Pichu, which it has been said was the sanctuary of the Incan king, Mancho II from the invading Spaniards. From the air, you can see the great plazas and buildings set into the mountain, it is truly an awesome sight.
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