Top Ten Mexican Pyramids

Top Ten Mexican Pyramids

       Mexico is home to some of the most impressive pyramids in the world. Here is a glimpse at some of the best.

  1. The Great Pyramid of Cholula

    The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for “artificial mountain”), is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. It is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World. The pyramid stands 55 m (180 ft) above the surrounding plain, and in its final form it measured 400 by 400 m (1,300 by 1,300 ft). The pyramid is a temple that has traditionally been viewed as having been dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl. The architectural style of the building was closely linked to that of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, although influence from the Gulf Coast is also evident, especially from El Tajín.
    Links: Top Ten South American Pyramids, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Cholula,
  2. Piramide del Sol

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  3. Piramide de la Luna

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  4. El Castillo, Kukulcan Pyramid, Chichen Itza, Mexico

    Dominating the North Platform of Chichen Itza is the Temple of Kukulkan (a Maya feathered serpent deity similar to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl), usually referred to as El Castillo (“the castle”). This step pyramid stands about 30 m (98 ft.) high and consists of a series of nine square terraces, each approximately 2.57 m (8.4 ft.) high, with a 6 m (20 ft.) high temple upon the summit. The sides of the pyramid are approximately 55.3 m (181 ft.) at the base and rise at an angle of 53°, although that varies slightly for each side. The four faces of the pyramid have protruding stairways that rise at an angle of 45°. The talud walls of each terrace slant at an angle of between 72° and 74°. At the base of the balustrades of the northeastern staircase are carved heads of a serpent. Mesoamerican cultures periodically superimposed larger structures over older ones, and El Castillo is one such example. In the mid 1930’s, the Mexican government sponsored an excavation of El Castillo. After several false starts, they discovered a staircase under the north side of the pyramid. By digging from the top, they found another temple buried below the current one. Inside the temple chamber was a Chac Mool statue and a throne in the shape of Jaguar, painted red and with spots made of inlaid jade. The Mexican government excavated a tunnel from the base of the north staircase, up the earlier pyramid’s stairway to the hidden temple, and opened it to tourists. In 2006, INAH closed the throne room to the public. On the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, in the late afternoon, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of triangular shadows against the western balustrade on the north side that evokes the appearance of a serpent wriggling down the staircase. Some have suggested the effect was an intentional design by the Maya builders to represent the feathered-serpent god Kukulcan.
    Links: Castles, Top Ten North American Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichen_Itza,
  5. Uxmal Pyramid of the Magician

    The Pyramid of the Magician is a Mesoamerican step pyramid located in the ancient, Pre-Columbian city of Uxmal, Mexico. The structure is also referred to as the Pyramid of the Dwarf, Casa el Adivino, and the Pyramid of the Soothsayer. The pyramid is the tallest and most recognizable structure in Uxmal.
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  6. La Gran Pyramide

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  7. Palenque Structures

           Palenque (Bàak’ in Modern Maya) was a Maya city state in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century. The Palenque ruins date back to 100 BC to its fall around 800 AD. After its decline it was absorbed into the jungle, which is made up of cedar, mahogany, and sapodilla trees, but has been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site attracting thousands of visitors. It is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, located about 130 km (81 mi) south of Ciudad del Carmen about 150 m above sea-level. Palenque is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments; historians now have a long sequence of the ruling dynasty of Palenque in the 7th century and extensive knowledge of the city-state’s rivalry with other states such as Calakmul and Toniná. The most famous ruler of Palenque was Pacal the Great whose tomb has been found and excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions. By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 2.5 square km (1 square mi), but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.
    Links: Top 100 Mayan Artifacts, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Hispanic_City_and_National_Park_of_Palenque,
  8. El Tajín

           El Tajín is a pre-Columbian archeological site and one of the largest and most important cities of the Classic era of Mesoamerica. A part of the Classic Veracruz culture, El Tajín flourished from 600 to 1200 AD, at which time numerous temples, palaces, ballcourts and pyramids were built. From the time the city fell in 1230 to near the end of the 18th century, no European seems to have known of its existence, until a government inspector chanced upon the Pyramid of the Niches in 1785. The architecture at El Tajín includes the use of decorative niches and cement in forms unknown in the rest of Mesoamerica. Its best-known monument is the Pyramid of the Niches, but other important monuments include the Arroyo Group, the North and South Ballcourts and the palaces of Tajín Chico. In total there have been 17 ballcourts discovered at this site. Since the 1970’s, El Tajin has been the most important archeological site in Veracruz for tourists, attracting over 650,000 visitors a year. It is also the site of the annual Cumbre Tajin Festival, which occurs each March featuring indigenous and foreign cultural events as well as concerts by popular musicians.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American SculpturesTop 100 Busts, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten South American Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Tajin,
  9. Calakmul

           Calakmul is a Maya archaeological site in the Mexican state of Campeche, deep in the jungles of the greater Petén Basin region. It is 35 km (22 mi) from the Guatemalan border. Calakmul was one of the largest and most powerful ancient cities ever uncovered in the Maya lowlands. Calakmul is a modern name, in ancient times the city core was known as Ox Te’ Tuun. Calakmul was a major Maya power within the northern Peten region of the Yucatan of southern Mexico. Calakmul administered a large domain marked by the extensive distribution of their emblem glyph of the snake head sign, to be read “Kaan.” Calakmul was the seat of what has been dubbed the Kingdom of the Snake or Snake Kingdom. This Snake Kingdom reigned during most of the Classic period. Calakmul itself is estimated to have had a population of 50,000 people and had governance, at times, over places as far away as 150 km. There are 6,750 ancient structures identified at Calakmul the largest of which is the great pyramid at the site. Structure 2 is over 45 m (148 ft,) high, making it one of the tallest of the Maya pyramids. Four tombs have been located within the pyramid. Like many temples or pyramids within Mesoamerica the pyramid at Calakmul increased in size by building upon the existing temple to reach its current size. The size of the central monumental architecture is approximately 2 square km (0.77 square mi) and the whole of the site, mostly covered with dense residential structures, is about 20 square km (7.7 square mi). Throughout the Classic Period, Calakmul maintained an intense rivalry with the major city of Tikal to the south, and the political maneuverings of these two cities have been likened to a struggle between two Maya superpowers. Rediscovered from the air by biologist Cyrus L. Lundell of the Mexican Exploitation Chicle Company on December 29, 1931, the find was reported to Sylvanus G. Morley of the Carnegie Institute at Chichen Itza in March 1932. According to Lundell, who named the site, “In Maya, ‘ca’ means ‘two,’ ‘lak’ means ‘adjacent,’ and ‘mul’ signifies any artificial mound or pyramid, so ‘Calakmul’ is the ‘City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids’.”
    Links: Top 100 Mayan Artifacts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Maya_City_of_Calakmul,_Campeche,
  10. Izapa

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  11. Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,

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