The Aztec Empire consisted of a thriving culture and civilisation during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. It was heavily influenced by the classical Mesoamerican civilisations and, through military conquest and a system of tribute, brought into its fold neighbouring city-states of Central Mexico.
It was the most powerful empire in the region by the time the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the region. The empire was defeated by Hernan Cortes and his men and was eventually destroyed. A lot of Aztec ruins from the era are still present which show the bygone glory of the empire.
The Aztec Ruins National Monument is a large archaeological site situated in New Mexico, United States. The site features a number of structures constructed by Ancestral Puebloans between the 11th and 13th centuries. Read more about the Aztec Ruins National Monument >>
Aztec Ruins History
The Aztec’s were mainly the Mexica people who migrated from north to Central Mexican region and established their capital Tenochtitlan in 1325.
With the passage of time, the power of the capital grew and finally the Aztec Empire was established in 1428 following a civil war in the region.
Aztec’s proclaimed the previously existing temples and pyramids as their own and also constructed new pyramids as part of their civilisation.
It was the most powerful regional empire in 1521 when the Spanish conquistadors arrived and this the turning point in its history when it’s sudden downfall began.
Aztec National Monument
The Aztec Ruins National Monument was established in order to preserve different Aztec ruins in the region of north-western New Mexico.
Most of the buildings in these ruins date from 11th to 13th centuries. The actual centre of the Aztec Empire, however, was the city-state of Tenochtitlan which was located at the site of the present day New Mexico.
The ruins preserved by Aztec Ruins National Monument were the constructions done by the Ancestral Puebloans. Aztec Ruins National Monument was established on January 24, 1923 and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites on October 15, 1966.
Aztec Temples and Pyramids
Various Aztec ruins of small and large temples exist in different sites, in particular the site of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan.
For instance, ruins of one of the largest temples in the Aztec Empire, The Templo Mayor, were discovered as a result of the excavation works during the 19th and the 20th centuries.
As a result of these excavations, many of the Aztec artifacts were discovered in sound condition.
Another famous Aztec temple was the Great Pyramid of Cholula which was actually built during the classical Mesoamerican civilisations and was eventually taken over by the Aztec’s.
Aztec ruins of this temple were excavated in two different phases during the 20th century and the exploration resulted in several valuable discoveries. The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon are also important temples and pyramids among the Aztec ruins.
The Ruins of Tenochtitlan
The most famous of all Aztec ruins are the ruins of the Aztec capital itself, the city-state of Tenochtitlan.
This was the capital of the empire which was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco.
After the Spanish conquest, the city was completely destroyed and today its ruins are buried under Mexico City. The famed Templo Mayor was also excavated from the ruins of Tenochtitlan near Mexico City’s Zocalo Square.
From the Aztec ruins of Tenochtitlan, many Aztec artifacts of historical and cultural significance have been discovered over the subsequent years. Most of these artifacts have been preserved in the Templo Mayor Museum next to the ruins.
Famous Ruins of Tenochtitlan
Teotihuacan has a special place among the Aztec ruins. It was built sometime during the classical Mesoamerican civilisations but the Aztec found the abandoned city during the 13th century and inhabited it.
Over the subsequent centuries, they built a variety of their own buildings at the location. Today, these Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan are located in the northeast of the Mexico City.
The ruins of Teotihuacan also contain such popular sites as the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Avenue of the Dead. While these grand constructions existed before the Aztec’s, they named it after discovering them.
The Aztec ruins of the city-state of Teotihuacan are considered among the most important archaeological sites not just in Mexico but throughout the world.
Famous Ruins of Calixtlahuaca
Among the Aztec ruins that provide the most valuable information about the everyday lives of the Aztec’s, the ruins of Calixtlahuaca are the most important. These Aztec ruins are located in the Toluca Valley west of Mexico City.
These ruins contain many of the well-preserved residential areas of the Aztec’s and thus provide important clues about their everyday life.
Other than that, these ruins also have various smaller temples and pyramids of the Aztec’s. In order to study the culture and living conditions of the Aztec’s, Aztec ruins of Calixtlahuaca are of central importance.
Famous Ruins of El Tepozteco
Another important site among the Aztec ruins is the Aztec temple of El Tepozteco, located in the Tepozteco National Park south of Mexico City.
This is among the less important Aztec ruins with the temple that was dedicated to Aztec god Tepoztecatl, who was a god of alcoholic pulque beverage. This temple has a 3.3 meter temple base along with a 6.4-meter-high platform.
Just like other Aztec temples, this one was also modified several times through its history. According to the archaeological evidence, the temple was built some time after the year 1452 AD after the Triple Alliance conquered Tepoztlan.
Aztec Ruins Summary
Aztec ruins are scattered over a vast area in the Central Mexican region, although the most important ruins exist in the city-state of Tenochtitlan which was also the capital of the Aztec Empire.
It is here that the Aztec’s built their most important buildings, including grand temples and pyramids. The city was completely destroyed upon been conquered by the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes.
The modern day city of New Mexico is built upon the ruins of Tenochtitlan. There are various other important ruins of the Aztec’s, some of which were actually constructed by the previous civilisations and discovered and inhabited by the Aztec’s.
This includes the famous Temples of the Sun and the Moon in the city of Teotihuacan. Other than these larger and more important ruins, various smaller Aztec ruins have also been discovered.