Palaces & Temples Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids
Palaces & Temples


The Maya were a class society. The nobles and the priests were the highest class.

Each city had a palace that housed the city ruler. Palaces were compounds. The palace itself was a multi-storied building, surrounded by other buildings.  The palace buildings were built around an open area or central courtyard. The ruler's relatives had homes of their own in the palace grounds, or they lived in the palace itself. Some of the nobles homes within the palace grounds had private gardens. That gave the nobles a place to get outside that was private. In their own garden, they did not need a servant to hold a cloth in front of their face, as they did when they went out in public. The palace itself could be quite large. When you add the size and number of other buildings and homes on the palace grounds, it was quite impressive, which of course was one of its purposes. 

Each city had a temple. The temple was a place of worship and a home for the city's priests. The temples also had a central courtyard, where the priests could find some privacy. Pyramids were tombs; no one lived in the pyramids. Temples, on the other hand, were homes. But temples often had pyramid shapes. Like the pyramids, some temples had a flat surface on top where ceremonies could be held. The Maya were deeply religious. They prayed at shrines and those who had time to spare from their work prayed at the temple every day. A festival was held once every 20 days at the temple to honor the Maya gods.

Temples were busy places. Priests held great power.

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