Aztec Architecture

The ancient Aztecs built beautiful, extraordinary religious structures, homes, and other buildings during their empire's reign. The Aztecs valued craftsmanship, and this can be seen in the buildings that they built.

Religion and praying to the gods was an everyday ritual for the Aztecs, and this meant that constructing temples was an important part of their society. Aztec cities would compete with each other to build the best temples in the empire. Instead of building a new temple each time the city wanted to make improvements, they simply built over the old temple. Aztec temples could have three or four layers, and one temple had six layers! Each layer was better than the previous layer. The new layer would be bigger and more extravagant than the last layer. The new layers also had more steps and a bigger sacrificial area. The sacrificial area was a flat space on top of the temple. The Aztecs believed in human sacrifices to please the gods, and they sacrificed over 20,000 people a year on top of these temples. The Aztecs also built many shrines to honor their gods. Some shrines were built for a specific god, while others were built to give offerings.

The emperor's palace was also an extravagant building. The palace had two floors and a courtyard. Inside the palace, there were four main rooms - the reception chamber, the personal apartments, the meeting chamber, and the tribute store, where all of the gifts that the emperor received were stored. The palace was elaborately decorated with gold panels, carvings, and painting.

The homes of the Aztec people were made of adobe. Adobe is a material made from dirt and water. They had thatched roofs. Instead of having separate rooms in the house, there was only one big room. This room was divided into four areas - the sleeping area, the kitchen, the shrine for the gods, and an eating area. Aztecs nobles had similar homes, but their homes were usually bigger. Their homes would also be made from better materials. Instead of the typical adobe homes, the nobles' homes would be made of lime or stone. These homes would be decorated elaborately, whereas the commoners were not allowed to decorate their homes in such a way. All of the houses also had steam baths because the doctors believed it was important for everyone to have access to one. A fire had to be constantly burning for the steam bath to work. The fire was placed on the wall, and water was poured on the wall to create the steam.

The Aztec Empire built incredible architecture. Many of the ruins can still be seen today. They left behind a rich history of religion, tradition, and culture for people to learn about today.