Top Ten North American Pyramids

Top Ten North American Pyramids

  1. Teotihuacán, Mexico

           Teotihuacán is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. Additionally, Teotihuacan produced a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica. The city is thought to have been established around 100 BC and continued to be built until about 250 AD. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population of perhaps 125,000 or more, placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population. The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacan or Teotihuacano. Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented; evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The Aztecs may have been influenced by this city. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of Teotihuacan is also a subject of debate. Possible candidates are the Nahua, Otomi or Totonac ethnic groups. Scholars have also suggested that Teotihuacan was a multiethnic state. The city and the archaeological site are located in what is now the San Juan Teotihuacán municipality in the State of México, Mexico, approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Mexico City. It is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
    Links: Pyramids, Museums and Galleries,,
  2. Chichen Itza, Mexico

           Chichen Itza, “at the mouth of the well of the Itza,” was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya civilization. The archaeological site is located in the municipality of Tinum, in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the northern Maya lowlands from the Late Classic (600–900 AD) through the Terminal Classic (800–900) and into the early portion of the Early Postclassic period (900–1200). The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the northern Maya lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans, referred to in later Mesoamerican literature. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site. The ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property, and the site’s stewardship is maintained by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History, INAH). The land under the monuments had been privately-owned until March 29, 2010, when it was purchased by the state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico; an estimated 1.2 million tourists visit the ruins every year.
  3. The Great Pyramid of Cholula, Mexico
    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 Mexican Attractions,,
  4. Templo Mayor, Mexico
    The Templo Mayor was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica. The temple was called the huei teocalli in the Nahuatl language and dedicated simultaneously to two gods, Huitzilopochtli, god of war and Tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture, each of which had a shrine at the top of the pyramid with separate staircases. The temple, measuring approximately 100 by 80 m (328 by 262 ft.) at its base, dominated a Sacred Precinct. Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times after that. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521. The modern-day archeological site lies just to the northeast of the Zocalo, or main plaza of Mexico City, on the corner of what are now Seminario and Justo Sierra streets.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,,
  5. Calakmul, Mexico
    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 was a major Maya power within the northern Petén region of the Yucatán 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. 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 sq mi) and the whole of the site, mostly covered with dense residential structures, is about 20 square km (7.7 sq 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.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,,
  6. El Mirador, Guatemala
    El Mirador is a large pre-Columbian Mayan settlement, located in the north of the modern department of El Petén, Guatemala.
    Links: Top Ten Guatemalan Attractions,,
  7. Area 51 Pyramid, USA

    Area 51, first brought to the public’s attention by Las Vegas investigative television journalist George Knapp, has long been a hotbed of UFO speculation and investigations into the likelihood of the secretive desert base being used to reverse-engineer captured alien technology. If true, and there’s strong circumstantial evidence that at least some of the allegations made by Bob Lazar and others that the USAF top-secret test base is hip deep in ET artifacts and technology, then some of that technology must require a charge-up to power the unearthly devices. The Chinese scientists may be on to something. For if the pyramid in Qinghai truly was erected to power up extraterrestrial spacecraft, then the USAF may require something similar when their scientists and engineers reach the stage in the decades-long project to back-engineer unworldly technology that’s allegedly stumped some of the world’s best thinkers for more than two generations. If the USAF reached the stage where they need a massive, alien-designed, power base they would more than likely build a pyramidal structure very much like the one in China. And they have.
    Links: Top Ten Asian Pyramids, Top Ten Chinese Pyramids,
  8. El Tajín, Mexico

           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, Top Ten Relieves, Top Ten South American Relieves,,
  9. Uxmal, Mexico

           Uxmal is an ancient Mayan city of the classical period. Today is one of the most important archaeological sites of Mayan culture, along with those of Chichen Itza and Tikal. It is located in the called Puuc region and is the city most representative of this architectural style. It is located 62 km south of Mérida, capital of Yucatán state in Mexico. Its buildings are noted for their size and decoration. Among them, as well as to other cities in the area, there are built few roads called sacbes. Its buildings are typical of the Puuc style, with smooth low walls that open on ornate friezes based on representations of typical Mayan huts, which are represented by columns (representing the reeds with which were built the walls of the huts) and trapezoidal shapes (representing the thatched roofs), entwined snakes and, in many cases two-headed snakes, masks of the rain god, Chaac with its big noses that represent the rays of the storms, and feathered serpents with open fangs leaving from the same human beings. Also seen in some cities influences of Nahua origin and the follow of the cult of Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc that were integrated with the original bases of the Puuc tradition. The buildings take advantage of the terrain to gain height and acquire important volumes, include the Pyramid of the Magician, with five levels, and the Governor’s Palace which covers an area of more than 1.200m².
    Links: Pyramids, Top 100 Masks,
  10. Temple of the Inscription, Mexico
    The Temple of the Inscriptions is the largest Mesoamerican stepped pyramid structure at the pre-Columbian Maya civilization site of Palenque, located in the modern-day state of Chiapas, Mexico. The structure was specifically built as the funerary monument for K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, ajaw or ruler of Palenque in the 7th century whose reign over the polity lasted almost 70 years. Construction of this monument commenced in the last decade of his life, and was completed by his son and successor K’inich Kan B’alam II. Within Palenque, the Temple of the Inscriptions is located in an area known as the Temple of the Inscriptions’ Court and stands at a right angle to the Southeast of the Palace. The Temple of the Inscriptions has been significant in the study of the ancient Maya, owing to the extraordinary sample of hieroglyphic text found on the Inscription Tablets, the impressive sculptural panels on the piers of the building, and the finds inside the tomb of Pakal.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,,
  11. Luxor Las Vegas, USA

    Luxor Las Vegas is a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. The 30-story hotel, which is operated by MGM Resorts International, features a 120,000 square ft (11,000 square m) casino floor that includes over 2,000 slot machines and 87 table games. It has a new, highly modernized and contemporary design and contains a total of 4,400 rooms, including 442 suites, lining the interior walls of a pyramid style tower and within twin 22-story ziggurat towers that were built as later additions. The hotel is named after the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) in Egypt. Luxor is the 2nd largest hotel in Las Vegas (the largest being the MGM Grand Las Vegas) and the 3rd largest in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Modern Pyramids, Top Ten Casinos, Top Ten North American Casinos, Top Ten Las Vegas Casinos, Top Ten Vegas Hotels,,
  12. Tikal, Guatemala

           Tikal (or Tik’al according to the modern Mayan orthography) is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period (200-900 AD). During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico. There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century AD. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century. Tikal is the best understood of any of the large lowland Maya cities, with a long dynastic ruler list, the discovery of the tombs of many of the rulers on this list and the investigation of their monuments, temples and palaces.
    Links: Top Ten Guatemalan Attractions, Top 100 Busts,,
  13. Comalcalco, Mexican
    Comalcalco is both a modern-day city located in Comalcalco Municipality about 45 miles (60 km) northwest of Villahermosa in the Mexican state of Tabasco and a Pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site. The literal English translation of “Comalcalco” is “In the house of the comals.” A comal is a pan used to prepare food.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions,,
  14. Caracol, Belize

    Caracol or El Caracol is the name given to a large ancient Maya archaeological site, located in what is now the Cayo District of Belize. It is situated approximately 40 km south of Xunantunich and the town of San Ignacio Cayo, at an elevation of 460 m above sea-level, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. The site was the most important political center of Lowland Maya during the Classic Period within Belize. In 650 AD, the urban area of Caracol had a radius of approximately 10 km. It covered an area much larger than present-day Belize City (the largest metropolitan area in the country) and supported more than twice the modern city’s population.
    Links: Top Ten Belizean Attractions,,
  15. Lamanai, Belize
    Lamanai (from Lama’anayin, “submerged crocodile” in Yucatec Maya) is a Mesoamerican archaeological site, and was once a considerably sized city of the Maya civilization, located in the north of Belize, in Orange Walk District. The site’s name is pre-Columbian, recorded by early Spanish missionaries, and documented over a millennium earlier in Maya inscriptions as Lam’an’ain.
    Links: Top Ten Belizean Attractions,,
  16. Tula de Allende, Mexico

           Tula, formally, Tula de Allende, is a town and one of the 84 municipalities of Hidalgo, in central-eastern Mexico. The municipality covers an area of 305.8 km² (118.07 square mi), and as of 2005, the municipality had a total population of 93,296, with 28,432 in the town. The municipality includes numerous smaller outlying towns, the largest of which are El Llano, San Marcos, and San Miguel Vindho. It comprised one of the 56 defined Zona Metropolitana (ZM), of which Tula has 5 municipios, 184,691 people in 2005 Census, up from 169,901 in 2000 Census covering 592 square km. It is located some 100 km to the north-northwest of Mexico City. It covers part of the southeastern portion of the Pre-Columbian city. Nearby are the remains of the ancient capital city of the Toltecs, also known as “Tula” or as “Tollan.” Usually identified as the Toltec capital around 980 AD, the city was destroyed at some time between 1168 and 1179. Tula became the capital city following Teotihuacan, although it never reached the same size due to competing cities in the area.
    Links: Sculptures,,_Mexico,
  17. Pyramid off the Island of Cozumel, Mexico

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  18. Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas, USA

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  19. The Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton, Canada

           The Muttart Conservatory is a botanical garden located in the North Saskatchewan river valley, across from downtown Edmonton. The conservatory consists of four glass, pyramid-shaped structures that showcase plants from arid, tropical, and temperate climates, providing a welcome oasis of warmth during winter. The fourth pyramid hosts a theme that changes throughout the year. A donation from the Gladys and Merrill Muttart Foundation provided momentum for the conservatory’s construction, with the remaining monies supplied by the Province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton. The conservatory is staffed and operated by the Edmonton Parks and Recreation Department. The conservatory’s unusual structure, designed by architect Peter Hemingway is composed of four glassed pyramids built around a central service core. The two larger’ pyramids are 660 square m in area, and the two medium-sized ones are 410 square m in size. Three of the pyramids are devoted to displays of plants from the tropical, temperate, and arid regions respectively, the 4th being used for shows that change with the seasons and which feature massed displays of ornamental flowering plants. The Temperate Pavilion houses plants typical of temperate climes, from such zones as the southern Great Lakes, Australia, and even the mountainous areas of Asia. Near the entrance and fed by a stream is a bog area, with white water lilies and parrot’s feather. The bog merges into a woodland with mostly eastern deciduous trees and low shrubs but including redwoods, cedars and pampas grass. Eucalyptus trees and flowering shrubs complement the Australian section. In the woodland floor and alpine section are many tiny flowering plants, some native to Alberta and others from all over the world. The barren, rocky slopes of the Arid Pavilion offer contrast to the other houses. The Tropical Pavilion provides an enormous diversity of species; under a canopy of tall palms, banana and weeping fig are orchids, various hibiscus and the bird of paradise, to mention a few. In a smaller pyramid, the Feature Pavilion offers seasonal displays. Arriving with summer are geraniums, begonias, roses and others. The Muttart Conservatory offers a Horticultural Extension Service, allowing the general public to receive expert help in the diagnoses of the ills of their plants, both indoors and out. The conservatory also teaches courses on the care of plants.
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions, Top Ten Birds, Top Ten Greenhouses,
  20. Edmonton City Hall, Canada

           Edmonton’s City Hall was designed by Dub Architects, and completed in 1992. It features two steel and glass pyramids, one 43 m high (ground to peak), on top of a three-story concrete structure. One pyramid provides natural light for the main atrium, the other for the council chambers. The building also features a 200-foot clock tower topped with a 25-bell carillon. Edmonton’s City Hall met with some controversy when it was first announced. The original designs called for the building to be topped with five cones. The cones were meant to pay tribute to the tipis that the First Nations once lived in on the site. The design met with much negative feedback from the public, and was dubbed “the Cone Dome” by the press. Dub Architects then revised their design to replace the cones with the pyramids, with the pyramids designed to be evocative of the Rocky Mountains. The design was received much more warmly by the public, and was dubbed “Pyramid Power” by the press. Located on the eastern edge of the financial district in Edmonton’s downtown, the building is the main feature on Sir Winston Churchill Square. In the winter, the fountain is converted to a skating rink.
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions,,
  21. Munks Mount, Illinois, USA

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  22. Links: Top Ten Pyramids, Top Ten Modern Pyramids,