Pyramids Around the World

How Many Pyramids are their in the World?

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Most people thinking of ancient pyramids jump straight to ancient Egypt. While that’s not wrong, it’s not necessarily right either. In fact, there are ancient pyramids all around the world, from a number of different cultures and civilisations and representing many different architectural styles and approaches.

From the famous attractions of Egypt to Mesoamerican pyramids, Chinese tombs, South American adobe structures, Mesopotamian ziggurats, North American mounds and even Roman ceremonial follies, these ancient structures pop up across the globe right through the centuries in cultures who often have no connection to one-another.

There's a host of fascinating Pyramids around the globe to visit and among the very best are Giza, Teotihuacan and Angkor Wat. Other popular sites tend to include Saqqara, Chichen Itza and the pretty bonkers Pyramid of Cestius.

We’ve put together an expert guide to the ancient pyramids of the world, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of world pyramids which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

1. Giza

Probably the most famous ancient pyramids in the world, Giza is home to Ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid, the famous Sphinx and two other amazing pyramids. The largest pyramid in Giza, and in the world, belongs to the second king of the Fourth Dynasty, Khufu or “Cheop”. Khufu’s pyramid is Giza’s oldest and, at its great size of 145 metres, became known as “The Great Pyramid”. In fact, Khufu’s pyramid was once the tallest structure in the world as well as being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Giza is also where one finds the Great Sphinx. Estimated to date back to 2528–2520 BC, some Egyptologists believe that this majestic half man, half lion is modelled on Khafra.

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2. Teotihuacan

The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan measures 225m by 222m at its base and 75m high is one of the largest and most impressive ancient pyramids in the world. Teotihuacan was a holy Mesoamerican city built in around 400 BC in what is now Mexico and forms one of the country’s oldest archaeological sites. Characterised by looming stepped pyramids, one of the most impressive aspects of Teotihuacan is the sheer size of these monuments. Incredibly well-preserved, despite a fire which tore through Teotihuacan in the 7th century, Teotihuacan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to Teotihuacan can maneouver their way through the city via its original streets, such as Avenue of the Dead, which divided the city into quarters, although take note that the site is absolutely enormous.

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3. Angkor Wat

The ancient Khmer empire built some astounding structures and nestled among the wider Angkor site are a number of step pyramids - notably the late 9th / early 10th century Phnom Bakheng temple and the Baksei Chamkrong temple. Incredibly grand and ornately decorated, Angkor Wat’s sand-coloured buildings rise up to form five towers, representing the home of the Hindu deities. Friezes and sculptures are found throughout, depicting both day-to-day life from the time it was built and religious events. Whilst the complex in Angkor is believed to have been founded circa 980 AD by Yasovarman I, king of the Khmer Dynasty, Angkor Wat itself is thought to date back to the twelfth century. Today Angkor is one of Cambodia’s most popular tourist sites, there's an incredible amount to see and it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992.

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4. Saqqara

Saqqara was the burial ground of the Egyptian city of Memphis and home to numerous pyramids and tombs. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Saqqara contains eleven major pyramids sprawled over six miles, including the first ever pyramid, known as the Step Pyramid and funerary complex of pharaoh Djoser. Saqqara is massive and, for those short on time the best places to see are in the north, including the Serapeum, Djoser’s funerary complex and, in between these two, the Mastaba of Akhti-Hotep and Ptah-Hotep, the son and grandson of official Ptah-Hotep.

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5. Chichen Itza

Stunningly well-preserved and imposingly beautiful, Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most impressive historical sites and includes the world famous, looming Mesoamerican step-pyramid known as El Castillo. A UNESCO World Heritage site based in the forests of the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is actually made up of two cities built by two peoples, the Mayas and the Toltecs. The site is made up of several surviving buildings including a circular observatory known as El Caracol, the Warriors’ Temple and El Castillo.

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6. Pyramid of Cestius

The Pyramid of Cestius is a truly unique Roman pyramid built as a tomb for the affluent magistrate Caius Cestius between 18 and 12 BC. Constructed of white marble and brick, this ostentatious 35-metre high tomb was likely built in this style due to the popularity of all things Egyptian which swept Rome after Egypt was incorporated into the Empire. Inside the tomb contained a number of frescoes depicting scenes from Roman mythology while an inscription still visible on the exterior gives details about its construction and dedication. This pyramid-tomb was later set into the Aurelian Walls, helping to ensure its preservation through the ages.

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7. Monte Alban

A remarkable UNESCO listed pre-Columbian site in Mexico, Monte Alban contains a number of large and impressive pyramids, probably built by the Zapotecs. Monte Alban was inhabited for approximately 1,500 years by a succession of civilisations, including the Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs and, at its peak, had a population of around 25,000 people. The site is characterised by over 2,200 terraces as well as numerous pyramid structures, large staircases, ornate palaces, elaborate tombs and even a ball court - the ball games played were as serious as it gets and often ended in the death of the losers. Today, Monte Alban is a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a small on-site museum showing some of the finds from the excavations.

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8. Tchogha Zanbil

One of a handful of surviving Mesopotamian ziggurats and a crucial entry on any list of pyramids of the world, Tchogha Zanbil forms part of the remains of the ancient city of Dur Untash, the holy capital of the Elamite Kingdom. The undeniable focal point of the ruins of Tchogha Zanbil is one of the greatest - if not in fact the greatest - ziggurats to have been built in Mesopotamia. Originally a temple dedicated to the deity Inshushinak, it developed to become the ornate pyramid-like structure - ziggurat - that stands today, although at 25 metres high it is now just a shadow of its former self having once risen to 60 metres.

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9. Brihadisvara Temple

One of several remarkable Hindu temples built by the leaders of the Chola Empire, the Brihadisvara temple has a quite spectacular central pyramid structure. Built from 1003 to 1010 during the reign of Rajaraja I, the temple was constructed in honour of the Hindu deity Shiva. It is an incredibly ornate and grand mostly granite structure, with seemingly endless sculptures and carvings chronicling this deity’s life as well as that of other holy figures.

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10. Dahshur

Dahshur was once home to eleven Ancient Egyptian pyramids, of which few have survived. However, for those wishing to view the Egypt’s pyramids in peace and quiet, Dahshur is the place to go. Unlike the more popular Giza and Saqqara, Dahshur has not become a tourist hotspot, despite its ancient attractions, including the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid. Built by the pharaoh Sneferu, founder of the Fourth Dynasty and father of Khufu, the Red Pyramid is one of Dahshur's most famous residents and the second oldest pyramid ever built. In fact, it is thought that this was where Sneferu himself was buried.

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Full list of Pyramids Around the World

Beyond the most famous ancient pyramids of the world, there’s many similar places to visit, including Monte Alban, Tchogha Zanbil and Brihadisvara Temple to name but a few. While some examples of the pyramids of the world are accepted by all to be pyramids in the classic sense, others are the subject of debate. It has even been claimed that the biggest pyramids of all are found in Bosnia, though much discussion still rages about that particular issue

We’re constantly expanding this list of Pyramids Around the World and you can view the current selection below.

Abusir Pyramids

Admittedly less impressive than the nearby ancient pyramids of Giza, the Abusir Pyramids belonged to the Fifth Dynasty pharaohs and, to their advantage, are far quieter to visit.

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Abydos

Abydos is an important Ancient Egyptian site which contains a wealth of tombs, temples and other archaeological remains including the famous Temple of Seti I.

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Acatitlan

The pyramid of Acatitlan is an impressive Mesoamerican archaeological site in the modern town of Santa Cecilia on the outskirts of Mexico City.

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Cahuachi

Dominated by several adobe pyramids made of sand and clay, Cahuachi is an ancient site of the Nazca civilization in Peru and perhaps mark some of the lesser-known pyramids of the world.

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Calakmul

Calakmul is a remote and incredible Maya site in Campeche, Mexico, containing the remains of a vast and once-powerful ancient city.

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Calixtlahuaca

An Aztec archaeological site near Toluca in Mexico, Calixtlahuaca is known for its vast pyramid-like temples.

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Chacchoben

Chacchoben in Mexico is a Maya archaeological and includes some impressive ancient pyramid temples.

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Cobá

Boasting some of the best ancient pyramids from the Maya period and a fascinating entry on any list of world pyramids, Cobá is an important and vast Maya site in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region.

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Copan

The UNESCO-listed site of Copan in Honduras was an important Maya city, and contains a number of truly impressive step pyramids.

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Dos Pilas

A lesser known entry on the list of world pyramids, Dos Pilas was a major Maya city. The largest surviving structure is an impressive pyramid which rises 20m, while a number of other ancient pyramids survive at the site.

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Ek Balam

The vast main pyramid at Ek Balam is over 30m high, making it a remarkable example of Maya engineering and one of the most impressive pyramids in the world.

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El Brujo

El Brujo is an early Chimu archaeological site in Peru. The most fascinating remains at the site are its three “huacas” or sacred pyramid temples.

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El Tajin

An awe inspiring collection of ancient pyramids can be seen at El Tajin in Mexico, particularly the Pyramid of the Niches, an incredibly impressive six-stepped pyramid which would once have been crowned with a temple.

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Emerald Mound

Though not an ancient pyramid in the classic sense, some argue that American pre-colonial burial mounds such as the Emerald Mound and Monks Mound should be classified as step pyramids and included in lists of pyramids of the world.

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Hawara Pyramid

Built by Amenemhat III around 1840BC, the Hawara Pyramid in Egypt has largely been eroded by time and is but a shadow of its former glory.

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Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang - Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army forms part of the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. At the heart of the mausoleum stands a 51m high burial mound pyramid believed to contain the emperor’s tomb itself.

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Piramide de Cuicuilco

Thought to have been of religious and cosmic significance, the 23m, five-level Piramide de Cuicuilco is believed to be one of Mexico’s oldest surviving archaeological sites.

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Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was once the capital of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) and contains the impressive - if slightly hidden away - ancient step pyramid Sathmahal Prasada.

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Quirigua Archaeological Park

A former Maya settlement and now a small, yet important UNESCO listed site in Guatemala, Quirigua contains some smaller step pyramids.

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Roman Pyramid of Vienne

Really more of an obelisk than a pyramid, the Roman Pyramid of Vienne makes it into the list of pyramids of the world due to its name, which seems to have stuck through the ages.

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Sun Temple of Konark

With numerous intricately decorated stone buildings and the magnificence of its pyramid-like entrance hall, the Sun Temple of Konark is a popular tourist attraction and has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor was a holy temple built in the step-pyramid style in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, whose ruins can now be seen in modern day Mexico City.

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Tenayuca

The site of Tenayuca is nestled right in the heart of the modern municipality of Tlalnepantla de Baz in Greater Mexico City and consists of a vast Mesoamerican pyramid structure.

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Tenochtitlan

Tenochtitlan was the Aztec capital and was famed for its enormous pyramids. Sadly, it was mostly destroyed by the Spanish in the 16th century and little evidence remains.

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The Moche Temples

The Moche Temples are two ancient adobe pyramid temples in Peru, known as the temples of the Sun and the Moon. One of many religious structures to feature on the list of world pyramids.

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Tikal

Tikal in Guatemala was a major Maya site and contains five magnificent pyramids, the largest being an amazing 213ft tall.

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Tiwanaku

Tiwanaku, Bolivia, was the capital of a pre-Inca civilisation. One of its most famous structures is the Akapana, which would once have been a pyramid, but has since been significantly eroded.

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Uxmal

Uxmal was a Maya city in Mexico which contains a series of stunning ceremonial pyramids - the most celebrated of which is the Pyramid of the Soothsayer. This ancient pyramid is considered unique among pyramids of the world because of its unusual elliptical base.

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Yaxchilan

Hidden away far from the husstle and busstle of the main tourist track is the archeaological site of Yaxchilan, containing the ruins of this once-powerful Maya city.

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Yaxha

Yaxha is an impressive ancient Maya site in Guatemala’s Peten region which contains several incredible step pyramids.

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Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids

Zawyet el Aryan contains the remains of two Egyptian pyramids, the Layer Pyramid and the Unfinished Pyramid. It is thought they were both built around 2700-2600BC.

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Our database of pyramids around the world is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. While those looking to visit pyramids may want to start with Egypt’s famous ancient pyramids, there’s also a wealth of other countries to consider. So, if you know of other ancient pyramids of the world, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.