Temple Architectural Heritages: Mexico City

The Mexico City temple is unique architecturally in that it draws on the Mayan Revival Style. From Wikipedia “Though the name of the style refers specifically to the Maya civilization of southern Mexico and Central America, in practice, this revivalist style frequently blends Maya architectural and artistic motifs ‘playful pilferings of the architectural and decorative elements’ with those of other Mesoamerican cultures, particularly the Central Mexican Aztec architecture styling from the pre-contact period as exhibited by the Mexica and other Nahua groups. Although there were mutual influences between these original and otherwise distinct and richly varied pre-Columbian artistic traditions, the syncretism of these modern reproductions is often an ahistorical one.”

Evidently Frank Lloyd Wright, among others, drew on this style, but frankly when presented with examples of Mayan Revival Style I can’t really draw much of a common thread between them (probably due to my own lack of artistic sense), so to be more direct I just asked GPT-4 to list me some examples of Mesoamerican architecture that look like the building in the picture. It just give me the greatest hits of Mesoamerican architecture in general, but still the comparisons are elucidating.

The LDS temple in the image is the Mexico City Mexico Temple, and it has been mentioned that its design is influenced by ancient Mesoamerican architecture. Here are a few Mesoamerican structures that share similarities with the architectural style of the Mexico City Mexico Temple:

Teotihuacan: The ancient city of Teotihuacan, located northeast of Mexico City, is known for its large pyramidal structures, such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The step-pyramid design is a common element found in Mesoamerican architecture, which can be seen in the layered, step-like design of some parts of the temple.

Templo Mayor: In the heart of Mexico City lies the Templo Mayor, a major temple of the Aztecs. It features a twin-pyramid structure which is echoed in the symmetrical design elements of the LDS temple.

Chichen Itza: The Kukulkan Pyramid, also known as El Castillo, at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula, is another iconic example. Its geometric precision and stepped design are characteristic of Mesoamerican architecture and can be seen in the structured, clean lines of the LDS temple.

Palenque: The Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, which is a pyramid that houses the tomb of the Maya ruler Pakal, has a prominent stepped pyramid design. The architectural design of the LDS temple, particularly its symmetrical and elevated aspects, may reflect this style.

Uxmal: The Governor’s Palace at Uxmal is an excellent example of the Puuc style, characterized by long, low buildings with intricate facades and a horizontal emphasis. This style can be subtly seen in the horizontal lines and patterns of the temple’s exterior.

While LDS temples do not directly replicate these ancient structures, they sometimes incorporate stylistic elements reminiscent of the local historical architecture to create a sense of cultural continuity and respect for the local heritage.