Amazing Pyramids in the World

ancient civilizations all around the world built step pyramids. After the ancient Egyptians constructed the step pyramid of Djoser however they soon changed their design into the straight-sided true pyramid. The design of the true pyramid was used around 2600 BC and continued to be the favored form for royal burial until 1550 BC when the Egyptian stopped building pyramids entirely. Later civilizations took inspiration from the Egyptians for their own tombs

Candi Sukuh

Candi Sukuh is a 15th century Hindu temple that is located on the western slope of Mount Lawu in Central Java, Indonesia. The site has a step pyramid as its main monument, surrounded by life-sized figures. The temple of Candi Sukuh differs completely from other Javanese Hindu and Buddhist temples and is curiously Maya-like. Candi Sukuh contains a pervasive theme of spiritual liberation symbolized by reliefs and statues. The temple isn’t as wildly erotic as is sometimes suggested but the elements of a fertility cult are quit clear.

Candi Borobudur

On the island of Java, Indonesia, stands a mountain of a thousand statues which is shrouded in mystery and surrounded by volcanoes. Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist stupa and temple complex, was abandoned for centuries, but no one knows why. In fact, it was forgotten for so long that it was hidden beneath volcanic ash and overgrown by thick jungle for hundreds of years. But now beautiful Borobudur is hugely popular Buddhist monument in central Java. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The Pyramid of Cestius in Rome was built around 18 BC – 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo. It is of brick-faced concrete covered with white carrara marble and measuring exactly 100 Roman feet (22 m) square at the base and 125 Roman feet (27 m) high. It is assumed that the pyramid was modeled on the true pyramids in Nubia, which Rome attacked in 23 BC, as opposed to the much less steeply-pointed Egyptian pyramids

Tomb of the General

 The Tomb of the General is the burial tomb of King Jangsu, the 20th monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. King Jangsu became king at the age of 19 in 413 AD and reigned over Goguryeo until his death in 491 AD. During his reign, Goguryeo was at its golden age, stretching from Mongolia to Chungju. Known as the Pyramid of the East, his tomb measures 31 meters (102 ft) on each side and stands 13 meters (43 ft) high. The step pyramid is located in Ji’an in China, a former capital of Goguryeo.

Monte Alban
 Monte Alban is a large and very old ceremonial center located on a hilltop in the center of the Valley of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, about 9 kilometers (6 miles) west of the modern city of Oaxaca. The civic-ceremonial center of the Monte Albán rises some 400 meters (1,300 ft) from the valley floor. Monte Alban consists of a broad, flat hilltop terrace, the Gran Plaza, that runs north to south. Two large pyramid mounds terminate the great plaza at the ends, and the sides of the space are lined with stepped platforms and terraces, built of large stone blocks.

El Tajin
 El Tajín was an important gulf coast city in present-day Mexico, founded by the Classic Veracruz culture. Most of the buildings at the site were constructed between 600 – 900 AD. El Tajin’s most famous building is the Pyramid of the Niches. The pyramid’s design is unique in the Americas and rises 20 meters (66 ft) on seven layers, with a wide staircase at its eastern side.


 Siting high on the Vaca Plateau, 500 meters (1650 ft) above sea level, Caracol is the largest Maya site in Belize. It was once one of the largest ancient Maya cities, covering some 168 square kilometers (65 mi²). At it’s peak around 650 AD it had an estimated population of about 150,000, more than twice as many people as Belize City has today. The largest pyramid in Caracol is Canaa (Sky Place), at 43 meters (143 ft) it is still the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize.

Great Ziggurat of Ur
  The Ziggurat of Ur, a massive step pyramid about 64 by 46 meters (210×150 ft) in size in modern-day Iraq, is the most well-preserved monument from the remote age of the Sumerians. The ziggurat was part of a temple complex that served as an administrative center for the ancient city of Ur. Construction of the ziggurat was completed in the 21st century BC by King Shulgi, who in order to win the allegiance of the many independent cities, proclaimed himself a god. The step pyramid was reconstructed in the 6th BC by King Nabonidus and once more in the 20th century by Saddam Hussein with bricks stamped with his name.

  Calakmul is a Mayan site hidden inside the jungles of the Mexican state of Campeche. It is one of the largest Mayan cities ever uncovered with over 6,500 ancient structures identified. Calakmul’s 55 meter high pyramid is by far the largest structure at the site. Like many other temples in Mesoamerica the Mayans increased the size of the pyramid at Calakmul by building upon an older existing temple to reach its current size.

Choga Zanbil
 The Chogha Zanbil in Iran was built by the Elamites around 1250 BC by the king Untash-Napirisha to honor the god Inshushinak. The ziggurat may appear as a series of platforms built on top of each other, but the temple is actually composed of five towers of different heights. While most of the ziggurats where destroyed by natural calamities and war, the Chogha Zanbil ziggurat is relatively well preserved.


 Palenque is an archaeological site that was located on the western edge of the Maya empire in the present-day state of Chiapas, Mexico. Most structures in Palenque date from about 600 AD to 800 AD  including the Temple of Inscriptions, the only Mesoamerican pyramid built as a funerary monument.

  Uxmal, meaning “built three times” in the Mayan language, is one of the best preserved Pre-Columbian sites in Mexico. The most recognizable and tallest structure at 115 feet is the Pyramid of the Magician. The layers of this step pyramid are oval unlike the rectangular or square layers of other Mayan pyramids. The pyramid appears to have been built in five phases, starting from the sixth century continuing periodically through the 10th century.

Step Pyramid of Josser

The Step Pyramid of Djoser at the Saqqara necropolis was the very first pyramid built by the ancient Egyptians. It was constructed during the 27th century BC for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his Vizier Imhotep. The structure began as a traditional, flat-roofed mastaba but by the end of Djoser’s reign it had risen to a six stepped layer Pyramid and stood 204 feet (62 meters) high. As in earlier mastaba tombs, the burial chambers of the Step Pyramid are underground, hidden in a maze of tunnels.

  Situated in the lowland rainforest of northern Guatemala, Tikal is perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Mayan sites. Restored buildings are scattered around the area while many more ruined buildings are still hidden by the jungle. Between ca. 200 to 900 AD, Tikal was the largest Mayan city with an estimated population between 100,000 and 200,000 inhabitants. Tikal contains six very large step pyramids. The largest, Temple-pyramid IV, is some 72 meters (230 feet) high and was finished around 720 AD. Climbing to the top of one of these pyramids offers a great experience with beautiful panoramic views from above the tree tops.

Cichen Itza

El Castillo is the nickname of one of the most spectacular Mayan temples that dominates the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, in the Yucatán state of present-day Mexico. The design of the step pyramid has special astronomical significance.  Each face of the pyramid has a stairway with 91 steps, which together with the shared step at the top, add up to 365, the number of days in a year. Climbing El Castillo is no longer allowed after a woman fell to her death in 2006.

  In the 2nd century BC a new civilization arose in the valley of Mexico. This civilization built the flourishing metropolis of Teotihuacán and it’s huge step pyramids. The Pyramid of the Sun was built around 100 AD and is 246 feet (75 meters) high making it the largest building in Teotihuacán and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. The construction of the smaller Pyramid of the Moon started a century later and was finished in 450 A.D. Seven centuries after the demise of the Teotihuacán empire the pyramids were honored and utilized by the Aztecs and became a place of pilgrimage.

La Danta, El Mirador (0,9 million m³)

El Mirador was a major Mayan city that flourished from about the 6th century BC, reaching a peak population of perhaps more than 8,000 people between the 3rd BC and the 1st century AD. After a hiatus of a few centuries further constructions were undertaken until the city was abandonment at the end of the 9th century. The ruins were rediscovered in 1926 but received little attention due to its remote location deep in the jungle of northern Guatemala. Today the site remains largely covered by tropical jungle and the two largest structures at El Mirador, the “El Tigre” complex and the “La Danta” complex, give the impression of two large hills.

The La Danta complex consists of a number of platforms. The lowest platform measures 310 by 590 meters (1017 by 1936 ft), is 7 meters (23 ft) high and supports a series of buildings. The next platform is about 190 by 240 meters (623 by 787 ft) and rises another 7 meters. Above that is another platform around 21 meters high (69 feet), which is topped off by three pyramids, the tallest of which is 21 meters high. At 70 meters (230 feet) the Danta Complex is somewhat higher than El Tigre (about 55 meters or 180 feet high) although La Danta incorporates a low natural hill.

According to some source the La Danta complex has a total volume of 2,800,000 cubic meters which would make it one of the largest structures in the word. The question is however, how accurate this calculation is and if the entire complex can be considered one single pyramid. One could argue that a part of the first platform should be excluded as it supports several buildings.

  Located in northern Belize, Lamanai was once a considerably sized Maya city. The ancient ruins are not completely uncovered yet. Archaeological work has concentrated on the investigation and restoration of the larger structures such as the High Temple, a 33 meter tall temple. Since it was still occupied by the Maya when the Spanish arrived, Lamanai, which in Maya means “submerged crocodile”, is one of the few Mayan sites to retain its traditional name.

Nohoch Mul Pyramid, Coba

 Coba in Mexico was a large ancient Maya city that was home to about 50,000 inhabitants at its peak. Most of it’s monuments were built between 500 and 900 AD. New temples were built and old ones kept in repair until at least the 14th century however, perhaps as late as the arrival of the Spanish. Coba contains several large temple pyramids, the tallest, the Nohoch Mul pyramid is about 42 meters (138 ft) high. Today only a small portion of the site has been cleared from the jungle and restored by archaeologists.

Gebel Barkal

 The ancient Egyptians were not the only pyramid builders in Africa. To the south, the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, located in modern-day Sudan, culturally heavily influenced by its neighbor Egypt, also built pyramids to serve as tombs for their kings and queens. In fact, approximately 220 true pyramids were eventually constructed at three sites in Nubia, almost double the number of Egyptian pyramids. In the early 3rd century BC, a king, perhaps Arnekhameni, selected Gebel Barkal for his pyramid tomb and those of his several queens. While his immediate successors preferred to build their tombs at Meroë, more royalty built their pyramids at Gebel Barkal during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC

Pyramid of Meidum

 Five miles south of Saqqara in Egypt stands the mysterious tower-like pyramid of Meidum, which today scarcely resembles a typical pyramid at all. The pyramid was probably built during the reign of the 4th Dynasty pharaoh Sneferu, although it is believed by some that the pyramid may have been started by Sneferu’s predecessor, Huni. At some point during its construction the steps of the pyramid were filled with limestone encasing marking the first attempt by the ancient Egyptians at the construction of a true pyramid.

  The most extensive pyramid site of Nubia lies north of Khartoum, along the Nile River in ancient Meroë. The oldest pyramid at the sites dates to the end of the 6th or 5th century BC. Meroë remained the royal cemetery for around 600 years and almost 40 generations of Nubian royalty are buried here.

Bent Pyramid (1,237 million m³)
The Bent Pyramid located at Dahshur was the second pyramid built by pharaoh Sneferu. Mysteriously, the Egyptian pyramid rises from the desert at an angle of 55 degrees and then suddenly changes to a more gradual angle of 43 degrees. One theory holds that due to the steepness of the original angle the weight to be added above the inner chambers and passageways became too large, forcing the builders to adopt a shallower angle. The base of the pyramid is 188.6 meters (619 ft) and the height 101.1 meters (332 ft).

Red Pyramid (1,69 million m³)
  Built by Pharaoh Sneferu, the Red Pyramid is the world’s first successful attempt at constructing a true pyramid. The pyramid measures 220 by 220 meters (722 ft) and is 104 meters (341 ft) high. It was the largest pyramid in Egypt until the construction of the Giza pyramids. What really makes the Red Pyramid special today is the lack of crowds that plagues the Giza Plateau and the comparatively unregulated interior access

Great Pyramid of Cholula (1,8 million m³)

The Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico appears to be a natural hill topped by a Catholic church. This is the “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios” which was built by the Spanish in 1594 on the site of a pre-Hispanic temple. According to the Guinness Book of Records, this temple is in fact the largest pyramid ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at over 4.45 million m³. This is based on a size off 450 by 450 meter (1476×1476 ft) and a height of 66 m (217 ft).

 Closer examination of the site reveals a different volume however. The complex consists of several structures built on top of each other, starting from the 3rd century BC until the 9th century AD. The picture below shows a pyramid standing on a huge platform. The base of the pyramid itself is ‘only’ 295 by 270 meters (968 by 886 ft) which gives a much smaller volume, although the Cholulu Pyramid is still the third largest pyramid ever built.

Pyramid of Khafre (2,21 million m³)

 The Pyramid of Khafre is the second largest pyramid at Giza, after the Great Pyramid built by Khafre’s father Khufu. It appears to be slightly larger however as it is build at a higher elevation. The pyramid has a base length of 215.5 meter (706 ft) and originally rose to a height of 143.5 meter (471 ft) but is now 12 meters shorter. The most distinctive feature of Khafre’s Pyramid is the topmost layer of smooth stones that are the only remaining casing stones on a Giza Pyramid.

Great Pyramid of Khufu (2,58 million m³)

 The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest and sole remnant of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Over 2 million blocks of stone were used to construct the pyramid, during a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. The pyramid is 230 meters (755 ft) in length and an awe-inspiring 139 meters (455 feet) high (originally 146.5 meters or 480.6 ft). So in the end, after reviewing all the biggest pyramids the Great Pyramid of Khufu remains the largest pyramid ever built.

Pyramids of Giza

The Giza necropolis, situated in the immediate vicinity of the southwestern suburbs of Cairo is probably the most famous ancient site in the world. The pyramids in Giza were built over the span of three generations – by Khufu, his second reigning son Khafre, and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest and sole remnant of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Over 2 million blocks of stone were used to construct the pyramid, during a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. The pyramid is an awe-inspiring 139 meters (455 feet) high making it the largest pyramid in Egypt, although nearby Khafre’s Pyramid appears to be larger as it is build at a higher elevation.