Pyramids are structures made of triangular sloping sides that meet at their apex, with a square, rectangular, or triangular base. Egypt’s large pyramids are famous Pharaoh tombs, but pyramids exist in a large number of other countries, right up to our modern age. Sudan in Africa actually has the largest number of pyramids still standing, but that’s not where the largest pyramid is! Keep reading to discover the seven largest pyramids in the world.
1. Great Pyramid of Cholula (55 meters tall)
The Great Pyramid of Cholula in Puebla, Mexico is the largest pyramid in the world by volume.
Cholula Pyramid is only 55 meters (177 feet) tall, but its base is a gigantic 450 meters (1476 feet) long. Its total volume is 3.3 million m³ (166,538,400 ft³) which is almost one million more than the Great Pyramid of Giza. Its massive proportions earned it a place in the Guinness World Records as the largest monument ever built.
It was built for the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl from the 3rd century BCE to the 9th century AD and called Tlachihualtepetl, which means “the made-by-hand mountain”. Cholula is ancient Nahuatl for “place of refuge” and the pyramid is part of an archaeological area stretching 0.59 square miles.
It was a center for religious activity in prehispanic times, revered and built to greater extents in four main stages over the course of a thousand years. Six superimposed structures comprise the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which experts say accounts for the ethnic groups that ruled the area at the time.
If you want to see the largest pyramid in the world, you must travel to Cholula de Rivadavia, 63 miles southeast of Mexico City. Mounted police stand guard over it.
2. Transamerica Pyramid (260 meters tall)
Now, we switch gears to focus on a modern pyramid. The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest pyramid in the world.
It’s a four-sided pyramid skyscraper on Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California. It’s 260 meters (853 feet) tall with 48 stories and covered in crushed quartz so it appears lighter than the surrounding buildings.
This modern pyramid has 3,678 windows that pivot 360 degrees and its base houses over 300 miles of steel rebar. The Transamerica company (who later moved to Baltimore, Maryland) built it in 1972 and it cost $32 million. It’s currently a tourist attraction under renovation and the largest modern pyramid in the world.
3. Great Pyramid of Giza (138 meters tall)
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the tallest ancient pyramid in the world and the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Egypt’s Giza has three famous ancient pyramids, but the Great Pyramid was built for Khufu. It’s the biggest of the three and the tallest pyramid in the world at a breathtaking 138.5 meters tall. Originally, it reached 146.6 meters (480 feet) tall. It’s shorter now because the outer-facing limestone blocks have fallen. What we can see today is the internal structure. Its base spans 230.3 meters.
Pharaoh Khufu built this epic pyramid in 2,600 BCE using 2.3 million large blocks. It was his intended tomb.
Overall, it’s 2.4 million cubic meters in volume, which according to Guinness World Records is the second-largest pyramid in the world by volume. Since 1979 UNESCO world heritage has protected the pyramids of Giza.
4. Pyramid of Khafre (136 meters tall)
The middle pyramid of Giza is only two meters shorter than its big brother Khufu. Pharaoh Khafre built this large ancient Egyptian pyramid between 2558−2532 BC as his funerary tomb and monument.
It rises 136 meters (448 feet) and its base length is 215.5 meters (706 feet). Archaeologists have discovered it’s sitting on 10 meters of bedrock! Its lofty bedrock base makes Khafre’s tomb appear taller than the Great Pyramid, even though it’s a little shorter.
The pyramid contains two-ton limestone blocks. Experts still debate how ancient people actually built large pyramids from such heavy materials. Some believe it was decades of slave labor, but new archaeological evidence suggests that paid manual laborers built them.
5. La Danta (72 meters tall)
In El Petén’s Guatemalan northern jungle sits La Danta, a 72-meter (236 feet) tall, colossal ancient pyramid and one of the largest pyramids in the world. Its volume is 2.8 million cubic meters, around the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza.
It’s part of El Mirador and the lost City of Maya, which thrived from 6 B.C.E. to 3 A.D. It was eventually abandoned in the 9th century. Today, its peak juts from the tree line, but vegetation almost entirely covers its structure.
Archaeologists still have much to discover, but they think the pyramid once had cut stones and stucco (a limestone plaster) depicting scenes from Mayan mythology.
Want to see this incredible pyramid in person? You’ll have to fly in by helicopter from Flores, Guatemala or hire a Carmelita village guide and hike there. It takes days through dense jungle and there are plenty of venomous snakes to avoid. Perhaps Google Earth is a better idea!
6. The Bent Pyramid (104 meters tall)
The Bent Pyramid of Dahshur, Egypt is a mountainous 104 meters (341 feet) tall with a colossal 189.5-meter (621 feet) long base. Its volume is 1,237,040 cubic meters. Pharoah Sneferu built it in approximately 2,600 B.C. and some of its outer casing polished limestone blocks are still intact.
A quick glance will tell you how it got the name, but experts aren’t sure why its sides lose steepness as they climb. Some suspect it partially collapsed during its building phase and was shored up. Others believe the Egyptians created it that way on purpose when they moved from stepped to smooth-sided pyramids.
The Bent Pyramid’s official name is Southern Shining Pyramid, or Sneferu Shining, in the South. It’s 24 miles (40 kilometers) south of Cairo, Egypt. It has been a popular tourist attraction since the 1960s. Visitors can enter the pyramid via a 79-meter tunnel and explore two internal chambers.
7. The Luxor (108 meters tall)
The second modern pyramid on our list is Las Vegas’ Luxor Casino Hotel. It’s a whopping 108 meters tall, has 30 floors, and 4,407 rooms. It is named after an Egyptian city that houses an ancient temple complex. Luxor means “The Palace” in Arabic. In terms of size, it’s comparable to the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur.
The Luxor cost $290 million in 1991 and for 11 days it was the tallest structure on the strip. It was shortly beaten by Treasure Island.
One of the Luxor’s defining features is the Luxor Sky Beam, the strongest beam of light in the world. It sits at the hotel’s apex and uses curved mirrors and 39 xenon lamps to create a 42.3 billion candelabra. On a clear night, aircraft spot the beam from over 275 miles away.
7 Largest Pyramids in the World: Height vs. Volume
Determining the largest pyramid in the world really depends on how we choose to measure these massive structures.
By volume, the largest pyramid is the Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico. It’s a mind-bending 3.3 million cubic meters. That’s nearly a million cubic meters larger than the second largest by volume.
However, if we’re measured by height (and including modern pyramids), the tallest pyramid in the world is the Transamerica Building. This lofty pyramid is a neck-bending 280 meters tall!
The tallest ancient pyramid is the Pyramid of Khufu, which is better known as the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. It started out 146 meters tall, but is currently 138 meters tall due to fallen blocks.
Summary Of The 7 Largest Pyramids In The World
|#||Pyramid||Size In Height||Location|
|1||Great Pyramid of Cholula||177 ft||Puebla, Mexico|
|2||Transamerica “Pyramid”||853 ft||San Fransisco, CA|
|3||Great Pyramid of Giza||454.39 ft||Giza, Egypt|
|4||Pyramid of Khafre||448 ft||Outskirts of Cairo, Egypt|
|5||La Danta||236 ft||El Petén, Guatemala|
|6||The Bent Pyramid||341 ft||Dahshur, Egypt|
|7||The Luxor||354.3 ft||Las Vegas, NV|
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