The Aztec civilization started out as groups of wandering tribes. They were constantly fighting and leaving their small cities. Finally, in the fourteenth century, they settled near Lake Texcoco, and founded the city of Tenochtitlan (where Mexico City is today). The Aztecs conquered many other civilizations, and took great pride in their buildings.
They took over the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and used it as a center for their civilization. It was laid out in a grid, with the important structures in a line. Because the Aztecs were very religious, temples were everywhere.
Sacrificial pyramids were important in Aztec architecture. The major cities each had at least one. They usually had four stages, with platforms in between each. The pyramids had stairs up all four sides, and at the top, there was a sacrificial temple. These look somewhat like Egyptian pyramids,but are especially amazing because the Aztecs did not have wheels, pulleys, or other things that the Egyptians used to build their pyramids.
Often, the people of a city would decide they wanted their pyramid bigger and better. Instead of building a new one, they would build on top of the old one. Pyramids were also built as temples for the gods. They would have statues, and other decorations. One of the most famous pyramids is the pyramid of the sun in Teotihuacan.
Common Aztec homes were made of adobe (sun dried brick made from adobe clay). The main area of the Aztec shelter was one room split up equally into four areas. There was an area for the whole family to sleep in, a family shrine where gods would be kept, a place where meals would be prepared, and then the eating area.
There would be thatched roofs, or even terraced roofs. It was here that the people stood to attack the Spaniards, a last stand against the conquering army. In the adobe walls would be the doors. It was common for the windows (if there were any) to have two parallel sides and then two sides of different length. This shape or rectangles were very basic in Aztec architecture.
Aztec Architecture Materials
Aztec nobles had homes with a similar layout, but they would sometimes be made of better materials, such as lime or stone. These Aztec homes would be bigger and more elaborate. Generally speaking, nobles were allowed to decorate their homes lavishly, and the commoners very little. Gardens were very important to the Aztecs - the nobles might have large beautiful gardens.
The Aztecs would view craftsmanship and extraordinary work as something very valuable. The Aztecs would build their pyramids similar to mountains. They did this because they believed the mountains protected the rain from coming in and hitting their buildings.
The great city Tenochtitlan is a great example of Aztec Architecture. It is split into four sides, each side having an architectural value. Tenochtitlan was riddled (full) with pyramids and architectural values. The city had a grid surrounding the four sides. Each side having a platform with stairs.