Mayan Architectural Style

Not everyone lived or worked inside a pyramid, the general step shapes seen in them were quite popular across entire cities. A large complex could consist of broad platforms stone with step sides that extended the whole length of the hill. While rather standard rectangular buildings lined these platforms, more pyramid-shaped structures existed for prominent purposes.

Like the Olmec, the Maya put their religious leaders and locations on a higher level than buildings used for commerce or everyday use. They also had ball courts in all their cities. Other common structures included palaces, temples, shrines, residential buildings, and palaces with multiple rooms, cooking areas, and bathhouses or lavatories.

The layout of the cities themselves depended largely on how the land was formed. They did not have bulldozers, of course, so larger, flat areas were chosen from the start. If the land sloped up, they built steps. They connected higher plateaus with raised walkways and paths covered with stucco and stone. The direction buildings faced mattered too. Just like a modern architect would position a house or important building so it faced a great view, so too did the Mayan people. This seemed especially useful for religious buildings, which may have faced the rising sun in the east.