The Floating Gardens of the Aztecs

When Cortez discovered the Aztec Empire in the year 1519, he found 200,000 people living on an island in the middle of a lake.  Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, was the biggest and best-fed city in the world, and this fortress city was completely surrounded by water.

To feed their enormous population, the Aztecs ingeniously built chinampas, or floating gardens, to convert the marshy wetlands of Lake Texcoco into arable farmland.  These floating gardens were a masterpiece of engineering.

Each garden was 300 feet long by 30 feet wide.  To make a garden, workers weaved sticks together to form a giant raft, and then then piled mud from the bottom of the lake on top of the raft to create a layer of soil three feet thick.

The rectangular gardens were anchored to the lake by willow trees planted at the corners.  Each garden was lined on all sides by canals to allow canoes to pass with workers and materials.  This network of gardens extended for 22,000 acres across the surface of the lake.

The floating gardens were companion planted with corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and flowers, and these incredible gardens yielded seven crops per year.

(Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

The Aztec religion was a cult of sacrifice, and the gods were fearsome.  The victims of sacrifice, standing on top of the great pyramid, could see the floating green gardens in the far distance, with the sun sparkling on the lake, and then their hearts were cut out and roasted in a fire.

Tens of thousands of heads rolled down the stone steps of those pyramids, and the rivers that turned the temples red in the noonday sun were a plea to the gods to keep the gardens growing.  But in the end, when the sky went dark over Tenochtitlan, and the earth shook beneath the feet of Montezuma, it was not the sun god who brought judgment; it was the Conquistadors.

The Spaniards’ military advantages over the Aztecs—the swords, guns, and horses–were nullified in the sanctuary of the floating gardens, and Cortez was covetous of gold, not Indian corn, so he ordered the destruction of the chinampas.

The floating gardens of the Aztecs, the key to their great civilization, were torn to pieces by the hands that built them, and thrown to the bottom of the lake, never to rise again.

The Ruins of a Civilization (image courtesy jupiterimages/

The Ruins of a Civilization (image courtesy jupiterimages/

6 responses

  1. Amazing that I’ve heard time and time again about the sacrificial aspects of Mayan culture, and nothing at all about the floating gardens. It could have been springtime, 10th grade and inattention that got in the way, but now I know. Very interesting, and sad.

  2. Can we also be told the truth! I do not care if it offends us all WE need to know the truth! That the mayflower arrived into a 100 year old Spanish settlement and the puritans simply took over changing the name to plymouth or whatever! The tea! What tea it was tobacco party! Please do not be shy and be ashamed instead! USA was born taking other people’s belongings! And financed with cancer tobacco! New Hispanics new spanish mexican or however you call the people at that time financed your anglosaxon asses it was by smugling the amunition and weapons and clothing and shoes because imagine your people did not winter clothing nor shoes! And we expect them to win an independence? And in cold weather! Usa history is pure bullshit! The concentration of english anything had to travel in winter into the gulf of mexico! And everyship had to be repaired! Where do you think that would only be possible if not be seasoned mexicans! 1700’s the hasburgs died off and these new shitty french kings The Borbon dumb shit obligated one to speak ill of yourself and if your ass wanted to be in the picture per se then wonderful shit about the french you had to lie about! The black legend or bad propaganda against the spanish is what begun to destroy the spanish empire. The english french never were empires get that through your dumb heads people you were imperialistic and thats a huge huge difference. Wannabes does not make you noble nor a pretentious english accent the only thing you people invented for yourselves because everything else is stolen! Since when has treason be virtuous! Loiteting an english virtue! Filibusters are pirates! Another usa virtue! Please also discuss about the 200 buck inventive given by usa government to the usa citizen! Killing indian was hard work and plus the burden of choping off the head as evidence in order to claim your 200 lead to the ingenious discovery of the redskins! Or simply ripping off the scalps of the natives! RED SKINS! 200 bucks per red skin! New born or mature and old all 200 bucks! And many times you the anglosaxon can never keep your word! You indian giver you! All that is ONLY justified being calvinistic protestantistic! Pure evil! Reservations are prisoner of war jails! Lets not forget this before your lausy ass goes off to save the endangered elefant unicorn with wings from TIBET! Or whatever stupid shit you come out of

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