Ancient South America’s Mysterious Architecture

The ruins and mysteries hidden in the depths of the jungle and architectural feats showcased high up in the mountain tops of ancient South America show hints of a far different world to what we see today. There were thriving networks of different tribes, empires and kingdoms that have since melted away in the sands of time.

These incredible cultures have left behind a legacy and history which is slowly becoming lost to the mists of memory, as modern conveniences overtake the once proud land of Inca’s, Mayans, and Aztecs. The stone temples, ancient roadways, mysterious carvings  have left a puzzle for modern archaeologists, architects, and avid historians to unravel, much like the pyramids of Giza. These are the top ancient South American architectural wonders.


The singing steps of Chichen Itza temple are an architectural marvel to all who behold them. Apart from the temple complexes grandeur, numerous murals and iconography, and cultural significance, one of the most mystifying features of the site are its ‘bird’ steps. At the Kukulkan pyramid, if you face the steps, you can clap and have the sound of a quetzal bird return to you in chirping form. It is believed to have been used during ceremonies by priests.

The nearby Temple of the Warriors has a similar acoustical marvel attached to it, as when clapped at, a low rumble returns, similar to the sounds of a snake’s rattle. Another architectural feat of the Chichen Itza temple complex is the fact that it’s main pyramid has 365 steps, which is believed to be one for each day of the year. The final surprising feature is that on the autumn and spring equinoxes, a snake shadow seems to slither along the stairs of the pyramid as the sun moves across the afternoon sky.


Unlike modern man who can play games on his phone like Tetris, or dive into a bit of US Masters betting when he wants to, ancient Aztecs societies had far different forms of entertainment. They used to play a game similar to football called ōllamalitzli.

The game and players are well depicted in murals at Tepantitla which are secreted away behind the Teotihuacán’s pyramids. These ball courts were supremely important architectural features, since they had a dual religious meaning and often, were the first parts built in the huge city complexes. The ōllamalitzli game was highly religious and is believed to follow the journey between the underworld and the living.


The most well-known Incan architectural marvel is the citadel in the clouds, Macchu Picchu, and its mysterious history. It is one of the most visited sites in South America, and little is known about its inhabitants who mysteriously vanished. All that’s left behind are its fascinating stone walls which were designed to withstand the many earthquakes the region experiences, and one of the most well-preserved astronomical calendar clocks of the Inca, a Intihuatana.

We wonder what other secrets these architectural marvels above hold within their walls and mountain caves, or even below the ground of their stone walls and temples.

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