The Mayan Legacy in Architecture

The Mayan Legacy in Architecture   The legacy of the Mayans is finally being discovered in its entire splendor. Through excavations, the deciphering of their ancient tongue and continuous research, archeologists know increasingly more about a people that not only developed a calendar as accurate as the one we use today, but were also highly skilled astronomers, architects and mathematicians. Without using metal instruments, they built large cities and monumental temple. Each urban area was carefully planed with temples and palaces in the center and nearby ball court of the famous Pre Hispanic team sport. The thatched roofs and plaster or adobe walled homes of inhabitants were short distance form the center.   The most important Mayan contribution to the world of architecture is the Korbel arch, also called Mayan Arch, which was formed by projecting stone blocks out from each side of a wall until they met forming a peak. This structure was substitute fore a true arch. In order to understand a bit more about the ancient Mayans and their civilization, a visit to the archeological sites that dot the landscape is almost obligatory. For example in the Yucatan Penenisula, travelers can visit Chichen Itza, where they will se the Kukulcan Pyramid and the mysterious Sacred Well. Chiapas is home to the ancient city of Palenque, which must have been a funeral center for royalty; Bonampak known for its murals on which the life of the court, battles and religious ceremonies were portrayed two thousand years ago; and Yaxchilan, a beautiful city beside the Usimacinta river deep in the Lacandon jungle. In the State of Quintana Roo the fortress of Tulum rises above a cliff, an important point of exchange on the lucrative commercial routes and Coba rises from the center o a network of ancient roads called Sacbes.   When the Spaniards conquered the Mayan world, they began to establish cities throughout the region. In addition to the European architectural style and urban planning, they introduced Christianity, Spanish customs, and new types of crops and animals to the region. Since the Formative period, they began to build some edifications that had architectural influences from other cultures, specially the Olmec. Later, Mayan architecture was formed by mythical and religious ideas. That is why temples and palaces, cities and ball courts were built in the center of the cities, while the houses of the people were built in the surrounding area. Today, and above all in our city, we can see many examples of the influence of the Mayan architectural legacy in buildings, homes, hotels and restaurants, which does honor to the marvelous civilization.

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