Pyramids are arguably some of the most impressive structures left behind by our ancient ancestors. Not only is it hard to conceive how they could have been made, but they hold secrets about the culture of the people who built them. Take a look at some of the most impressive ancient pyramids from around the world and learn what they meant to those who constructed them.
Pyramid Of Djoser: Saqqara, Egypt
Otherwise known as the Step Pyramid, the Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest stone structure in Egypt. With four sides and six levels, the pyramid was constructed in the 27th century during the Third Dynasty in honor of the burial of Pharaoh Djoser.
The pyramid is the central structure of a massive mortuary complex filled with other structures and decorations.
Pyramid Of Djoser: Saqqara, Egypt (Cont.)
Today, the pyramid is considered the oldest large-scale cut stone structure made by man. It was originally 205 feet tall and made of polished white limestone.
Recently, the pyramid was re-opened to the public after being under construction for more than 14 years!
Great Pyramid Of Khufu: Giza, Egypt
The Pyramid of Khufu, or the Great Pyramid of Giza, is the largest and oldest part of the Giza pyramid complex in Egypt.
The only one to remain intact for the most part, it is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Inside, there are three separate chambers.
Great Pyramid Of Khufu: Giza, Egypt (Cont.)
The Great Pyramid was completed around 2560 BC and took more than 26 years to build. For more than 3,800 years, it remained the tallest man-made structure in the world and originally stood almost 500 feet tall.
The structure is made up of 2.3 million large stones that together weigh more than 6 million tons.
Pyramid Of Khafre: Giza, Egypt
The Pyramid of Khafre of the second-largest of the three pyramids of Giza. It was built for the pharaoh Khafre, and is slightly smaller than the Great Pyramid, which was built for his father, Khufu.
However, it appears to be larger because Khafre chose a location at a higher elevation.
Pyramid Of Khafre: Giza, Egypt (Cont.)
When the pyramid was first explored by Giovanni Belzoni in 1818, he found that the chamber was empty except for an open sarcophagus.
It is believed that the pyramid was most likely robbed during the First Intermediate Period of the Nineteenth Dynasty, with Arabic graffiti found on the wall of the burial chamber.
Chavin Temple Complex: Chavin De Huantar, Peru
The Chavin Temple Complex was the religious center of the Chavin people as well as the political capital. The temple is a massive flat-topped pyramid that served as the center of ceremonies and other important events.
Other structures on the site include the Major Plaza, Circular Plaza, the Old Temple, and the New Temple.
Chavin Temple Complex: Chavin De Huantar, Peru (Cont.)
It is estimated that the temple was constructed over a period of time before 1200 BC, with some of the biggest additions occurring around 750 BC.
Up until 500 BC, the area continued to be used as a religious center, although it was no longer used for the same reasons by 400 BC.
The Pyramid Of The Sun: Teotihuacan, Mexico
Built by the Teotihuacanos, the Pyramid of the Sun is one of the largest structures in Mesoamerica and the largest building in Teotihuacan.
At the center of the city, the Pyramid of the Sun is on the Avenue of the Dead and between the Pyramid of the Moon and Ciudadela.
The Pyramid Of The Sun Teotihuacan, Mexico (Cont.)
It is believed that the pyramid was constructed around 200 BC and was given the name the Pyramid of the Sun by the Aztecs, who visited the city hundreds of years after it had been abandoned.
Although it is the third-largest pyramid in the world, it is still only half the height of the Pyramid of Giza.
The Nubian Pyramids, Meroe, Sudan
Constructed by the ancient Kushite kingdoms’ leaders, the Nubian pyramids are located in Nubia, in what is present-day Sudan.
Built of sandstone and granite, the pyramids are believed to have been inspired by the Egyptians, although they were built thousands of years after the Egyptians had stopped practicing that form of burial.
The Nubian Pyramids, Meroe, Sudan (Cont.)
These pyramids were built by the Nubian kings for the first time in 751 BC, with their pyramids reflecting those built in Egypt during the New Kingdom.
Incredibly, there are nearly twice as many Nubian pyramids left standing than in Egypt, even though more than 40 were partially demolished by treasure hunter Giuseppe Ferlini in the 1830s.
Great Pyramid Of Cholula: Puebla, Mexico
The largest site of a temple in Mesoamerica, the Great Pyramid of Cholula (or Tlachihualtepetl “made-by-hand mountain), is considered to be the largest pyramid by volume in history.
It is believed that the pyramid was inspired by the architectural style of Teotihuacan, although there is evidence of influence from areas on the Gulf Coast as well.
Great Pyramid Of Cholula: Puebla, Mexico (Cont.)
Although the adobe pyramid is only 180 feet above the ground and 449 feet shorter than the Great Pyramid of Giza, it is much wider.
The pyramid measures an impressive 1,480 x 1,480 feet, with the Giza pyramid only being 750 x750 feet. It’s believed the pyramid was dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl.
Ziggurat Of Ur: Ur, Iraq
Built in what was once the city of Ur in present-day Iraq, the Great Ziggurat of Ur was known as Etemenniguru. In Sumerian, this translates to mean “temple whose foundation creates aura.”
Although it was initially built in the 21st century BC, it was in ruins by the 6th century BC until King Nabonidus restored it.
Ziggurat Of Ur: Ur, Iraq (Cont.)
The ziggurat was excavated in the 1920s and ’30s by Sir Leonard Woolley. It wasn’t until later that partial reconstruction was done to the structure under Saddam Hussein until it was halted.
It is considered the best-preserved ziggurat of Iraq and Iran and is one of the only Sumerian ziggurats to survive.
Mayan Pyramids Of Tikal: Peten, Guatemala
Tikal is one of the largest archeological sites of the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization and is believed to have been called Yax Mutal.
The city reached its height during the Classic Period between 200 to 900 AD. It was abandoned by the 10th century, leaving behind only the ruins of an ancient city.
Mayan Pyramids Of Tikal: Peten, Guatemala (Cont.)
Along with the surrounding buildings, Tikal was also home to five temple-pyramids. The tallest, Pyramid IV, is 213 feet tall, and after they were abandoned, they were forgotten in the South American rainforest for almost 800 years.
It wasn’t until the 1850s that European explorers rediscovered the site. The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pyramid Of Cestius: Rome, Italy
The Pyramid of Cestius is located in Rome, Italy, near the Protestant Cemetery. It was constructed in 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, who was most likely inspired by this ancient Egyptian style of burial.
Today, it is considered to be one of the best-preserved ancient Roman structures.
Pyramid Of Cestius: Rome, Italy (Cont.)
Made of brick and covered in marble slabs, the pyramid took 330 days to complete and is 121 feet tall.
The chamber to the pyramid was finally opened in 1660 and was discovered to be full of frescoes, although all of the other contents seem to be gone. The inside of the pyramid remained unavailable to the public until 2015.