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.
It’s not surprising to learn therefore that the list of world pyramids really does span the globe. From the famous pyramids of Egypt to Mesoamerican pyramids, Chinese tomb pyramids, South American step pyramids, Mesopotamian ziggurats, North American mound pyramids and even Roman ceremonial pyramids, these ancient structures pop up across the globe right through the centuries in cultures who often have no connection to one-another.
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…
So 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. Check out our ancient pyramids map above and the list of pyramids of the world below and click on each entry for more information on each pyramid.
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.
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.
One of several remarkable Hindu temples built by the leaders of the Chola Empire, the Brihadisvara temple has a quite spectacular central pyramid structure.
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.
An Aztec archaeological site near Toluca in Mexico, Calixtlahuaca is known for its vast pyramid-like temples.
Chacchoben in Mexico is a Maya archaeological and includes some impressive ancient pyramid temples.
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.
The UNESCO-listed site of Copan in Honduras was an important Maya city, and contains a number of truly impressive step pyramids.
Among the most famous ancient pyramids of the world are those at Dahshur in Egypt, home to the famous ‘Bent Pyramid’ and the Red Pyramid of Sneferu.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A remarkable UNESCO listed pre-Columbian site in Mexico, Monte Alban contains a number of large and impressive pyramids, probably built by the Zapotecs.
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.
Polonnaruwa was once the capital of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) and contains the impressive - if slightly hidden away - ancient step pyramid Sathmahal Prasada.
A rare entry in the list of world pyramids is the Pyramid of Cestius, a burial tomb and probably the only true surviving Roman pyramid and located in Rome itself.
A former Maya settlement and now a small, yet important UNESCO listed site in Guatemala, Quirigua contains some smaller step pyramids.
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.
Among the most famous pyramids in the world, Saqqara was the burial ground of the Egyptian city of Memphis and home to numerous pyramids and tombs.
A truly stunning and intricate ancient pyramid, the Sun Temple of Konark is an iconic 13th century Hindu Temple listed as a UNESCO site.
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.
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.
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.
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. A leading entry on any world pyramid list.
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.
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.
Tikal in Guatemala was a major Maya site and contains five magnificent pyramids, the largest being an amazing 213ft tall.
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.
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.