Phillip Ramirez<br />December 13, 2010<br />Period 5 HWL<br />The Aztec Empire: A Pristine Destination <br />Imagine a lake, surrounded by lush, green jungles. Inside that lake is a city, one of the largest in the world. In the city, there would be markets, temples, and thousands of people bustling around. Think about the tastes, the aromas, and the feelings. Well, there is good news: that place can be found in the Aztec Empire. With complex engineering, amazing architecture, and intricate rituals, the Aztec Empire is the place to be.<br />The center of the Aztec Empire is Tenochtitlan. Built on a lake, this city is an engineering marvel unlike any in the world. Tenochtitlan was built on what are called chinampas. These floating islands, made of wood and soil, can be anchored to the bottom of the lake so they remain in place indefinitely. A visit to these engineering spectacles would be quite rewarding, as some can still be found supporting farms around the city. Tenochtitlan is connected to the mainland by three bridges, which also act as dikes to separate salt and fresh water. These amazing engineering feats are a wonderful place to visit. They are over a mile long and require a lot of time to cover, but a nice stroll to the mainland and back is well worth it. However, keep in mind there are many other things to see in the Aztec Empire.<br />No visit to the Aztec Empire would be complete without a visit to the emperor’s palace in Tenochtitlan. This two story building contains almost 100 rooms, each with its own working bathroom. Intricate paintings and carvings cover the wall and the palace is littered with solid gold objects. Marble columns support each level of this beautiful building. Close to the emperor’s palace is the Tenochtitlan Sun Pyramid, or Templo Mayor. Almost every Aztec city has a great stone pyramid, like the Templo Mayor, at its center. These amazing architectural spectacles can be over fifty meters high and made entirely out of stone. Several steep sets of steps are found on all four sides, with intricate patterns of gods, wars, legends, and kings carved into the balustrades. At the top of each Aztec pyramid, there is a temple which overlooks the city and is well worth the climb up. At the center of these temples, there is a sacrificial stone altar, upon which some of the complex Aztec rituals take place. <br />One such ritual is the practice of human sacrifice. The Aztecs believe that the hearts of the people they have sacrificed fuel the Sun, allowing it to rise the next day. The victims are brought to the temple by the high priests, who then extract the heart from the victim’s body. Although it takes a strong stomach to watch, the ritual of human sacrifice is complex and can be very interesting. A less gruesome ritual in Aztec culture is the ball game. An extremely important part of Aztec culture, this game can be played to settle differences between tribes, rulers, or even entire cities. The object of the game is to hit a small, rubber ball between two hoops, on either side of the court. The ball is not allowed to touch the ground and players cannot use their hands or feet, which can make for some interesting acrobatics. As hard as this may seem, some teams are able to keep the ball in the air for hours on end. The game ends when a team hits the ball through one of the two hoops. <br />Unfortunately, there are many people who would rather sit at home than see these remarkable rituals. Some people will say that the Aztec Empire is plagued by war, thus unsafe to travel to. The Aztec Empire is a warrior based society, but the Aztec army built the empire and has protected its borders without failure for over a hundred years. It sounds like a very safe place to travel. Many other cultures will criticize the Aztecs, calling them savages because of the practice of human sacrifice. Yes, the Aztec practice human sacrifice, but the Aztecs value human life and believed that it can only be given to the gods for no other purpose than to sustain their being. In addition to this, many people may be afraid that if they come, they will be sacrificed. This is incorrect, as the Aztecs only sacrificed war captives, slaves, and people thought to have the qualities of one of their gods. The Aztec Empire has so much to offer, it would be a sin not to come. Come see the causeways and floating islands of Tenochtitlan. Stand in the center of one of the hundreds of pyramids scattered throughout the empire. Visit the emperor’s palace and stand in awe at the paintings, carvings, and gold throughout the halls. Bear witness to some of the most complex rituals in the world. If there is one place to see in a lifetime, it would be the Aztec Empire. <br /> <br />Works Citied<br /><ul><li>"Tenochtitlan." History of the Aztec Indians. Aztec History, 2008. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <http://www.aztec-history.net/tenochtitlan>.