CHAPTER 18: SPAIN AND THE NEW WORLD

First of all, there are two pioneer movements or events of the Renaissance which had changed the human history. One was the discovery of a new continent: America and the other was rediscovery of the Classical past.

At the time, Spain and Portugal were powerful leading nations of Europe and Europe was now the center of colonialism. Slavery and the hunger of earning more and more gold was the ultimate aim of all European nations. Asia and Africa were exploited due to their fertile lands, slave labor force.

As mentioned above, Spain was eager to become the greatest power in Europe and the richness of America was serving to that aimed goal. The more free and scientific ideas were spread and the blocking of the conventional trade roads pushed Europe to search alternative trade roads. Additionally, the brutal competition of the Europe also led a great discovery: the whole new egzotic and mysterious continent with highest level of civilization.

There was three high civilizations: the Maya; at the Center America and South America, the Aztecs; in the central Mexico and the Incas; along the west coast of South America. The Maya had a long and rich cultural heritage, also had a long settlement history. Stone temples with corbel vaults and stepped pyramids were found as their architectural pieces. Before the Spain conquered these lands, the Maya were monumental cores in the most developed cities, which are formed by temple pyramids, ball courts and palaces. These structures were surrounded by paved public spaces. There was the ‘stelai’ which are dynastic monuments (monuments of rulers and their families) also had a ritual sense. The palaces had no consensus, these structures consisted of long shapes without any windows and with huge platforms used as a storey building. The temple pyramid, which is steep and tall  along the sky, has a narrow way direction only in one axis which led the temple to the summit. (Geometric purpose) Tikal and Palenque had resembled to Egypt and Pergamon according to harmony of height, fat-roofed masses and varying usage of plaza and temple-pyramids. Tikal was one of the biggest cities of Maya in which there were not a line between the fabric and the nature. There were different classes and their housing was also differ. For example, the nobles and merchants had more substantial houses closer to the ceremonial center (religious function).

The Aztec civilization was situated near Lake Texcoco and surrounded by mountains which also provided a cooler climate, especially the capital was landed on a swampy island. There were canals which link the city and its parts.  Aztecs were literary people who were left the written records which enlightened their understanding of their culture. They enlarged their cities by turning the lake mud into arable land which allowed them to use that extra amount of land. The streets were actually canals and they made use of wooden bridges. Thatelolco had one of the biggest marketplace of the world, therefore merchandise and terrace housing was very developed.

Inca was a glorious civilization which had enough technology to cut stone and fix it exactly the proper way they wanted it to be. So, Inca architecture was known for its masonry, shaped stones without mortar. In the reading, Kostof resembled Incas to Romans due to their talent to create a centralized structure  which was quite interesting. Inca arranged houses in a square with a common yard called “cancha”. The normal house of  Inca had a number of rectangular rooms around a court, which was wrapped n an enclosed wall. This approach had shaped the roots of new way of accomplishing religious architecture in America. The Inca cities didn’t have a city wall but it was guarded by a fortress nearby. They also didn’t use grid or any other layout system. There are for example central plazas, but their shape differed. The topography was one of the most influential thing which shaped them, their architecture and their society.

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