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14 of the World's Most Impressive Step Pyramids

 Throughout history, step pyramids have been constructed by various cultures around the world. The very first pyramids of Ancient Egypt were step pyramids, and the Mesopotamians, Persians and Mayans all constructed them, albeit for different reasons. Here are 14 of the world's most spectacular pyramids: 
14. Candi Sukuh
This 15th Century Hindu temple is located on the Indonesian island of Java, and it is distinct from its Hindu and Buddhist counterparts. In fact, it has more in common with the Mayan step pyramids located half way across the world. Its main theme is spiritual liberation. If you visit, be prepared though – the artwork that adorns it is quite raunchy in places!
13. Tomb of the General
One of the Three Kingdoms of Korea was called Goguryeo, and at its height, it was ruled by King Jangsu. He took the throne in 413 AD, and reigned over the kingdom until his death in 491 AD. During that time, it stretched from Mongolia to Chungju. Also known as the Pyramid of the East, the Tomb of the General marks King Jangsu’s final resting place.
12. Monte Alban
Located on a hilltop in Mexico’s Valley of Oaxaca, Monte Alban is a large and very old ceremonial center that dates back some 2,000 years. It towers more than 1,300 feet above the valley floor, and consists of two large pyramid mounds lined with stepped platforms and terraces.
11. El Tajin
El Tajin, also known as the Pyramid of the Niches, was constructed during the time of the Classic Veracruz culture, and most buildings on the site were constructed between 600 and 900 AD. The pyramid features architecture that is unique in the Americas, and rises 66 feet on seven different layers.
10. Caracol
The largest Mayan site in Belize, Caracola, is home to the Canaa (or Sky Place) pyramid, which is 143 feet high and is the tallest man-made structure in the country to this very day. The city of Caracola once covered some 65 square miles, and was home to about 150,000 people at its peak – around 650 AD.
9. Great Ziggurat of Ur
Located in what is now Iraq, the Great Ziggurat of Ur was completed in the 21st Century BC by King Shulgi, a self-proclaimed Sumerian god-king. It is the most well-preserved monument from the time of the Sumerians. Since its initial construction all those millennia ago, it was reconstructed in the 6th Century BC by King Nabonidus, as well as once more in the 20th Century by none other than Saddam Hussein.
8. Calakmul
More than 6,500 ancient Mayan structures can be found in Calakmul, which is one of the largest Mayan cities ever constructed. The largest structure on the site is the 180-foot-high Pyramid I, which was built on the site of an existing temple in order to achieve its great height.
7. Chogha Zanbil
The Elamites of what is now modern-day Iran built this ziggurat to honor their god, Inshushinak. It was commissioned by King Untash-Napirisha, and completed around 1,250 BC. Although it looks like a series of platforms built on top of each other, this ziggurat is actually composed of five towers of different heights.
6. Palenque
Present-day Chiapas in Mexico marks the western edge of what was the Mayan empire, and most of the structures in the archeological site of Palenque date back to between 600 and 800 AD. In contrast to other Mayan temples, the Temple of Inscriptions is the only Mesoamerican pyramid that was built as a funerary monument.
5. Uxmal
The name Uxmal literally means “built three times” in the Mayan language, and is one of Mexico’s best-preserved pre-Columbian sites. Its largest structure is the 115-foot-high Temple of the Magician, which is distinctive compared to other Mayan pyramids thanks to its oval layers (as opposed to rectangular or square ones). It’s believed that the pyramid was built in five separate phases between the 6th and 10th Centuries.
4. Step Pyramid of Djoser
Behold – the very first pyramid constructed in all of Ancient Egypt. It was commissioned by Vizier Imhotep during the 27th Century BC for Pharaoh Djoser and contains six separate layers. It stands some 203 feet high and features burial chambers that are hidden in a maze of tunnels underground.
3. Tikal
Tikal is arguably the most impressive Mayan archeological site of all. Between 200 and 900 AD, the city is believed to have been home to between 100,000 and 200,000 residents. There are no less than six very large step pyramids on the site, with temple-pyramid IV standing some 230 feet high. It was completed in around 720 AD and offers beautiful panoramic views from the top.
2. Chichen Itza
El Castillo is a truly spectacular site, being the highlight of the Mayan archeological site of Chichen Itza. It has special astronomical significance – there are four stairways, one for each of the pyramid’s four faces, with 91 steps each. Together with the shared step at the top, adding up the total amount of steps gives you the number 365, which is the number of days in a year. Climbing it is now prohibited, because a woman fell to her death from the pyramid in 2006.
1. Teotihuacan​
Teotihuacan was a city that emerged from the valley of Mexico in the 2nd Century BC, with a gigantic Pyramid of the Sun being constructed as its centerpiece. It stands 246 feet high and was completed around 100 AD. It is also one of the largest structures ever constructed in Mesoamerica. Just a short walk away is the Temple of the Moon, which was completed approximately 350 years later. Teotihuacan is the most-visited archeological site in Mexico.
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