Aside from the Pyramids, what is the tallest man-made structure still standing in Europe & the Near East from ancient times?

In the Americas, there is La Danta Temple (built c300 BC, 230 ft / 70.10m) in modern-day Guatemala. In Asia (Far East and South Asia), there is the Ruwanwelisaya (built c300 BC, 300 ft / 91.44m) in Sri Lanka. What is there in Europe?

The Wikipedia page History of the world's tallest buildings makes no mention of anything between the Great Pyramids and Lincoln Cathedral (1300). The List of Greek and Roman architectural records doesn't come up with anything more than the Pont du Gard at 160 ft / 48.77m (or 155 ft / 47.24m, depending on which Wiki article you believe). The Colosseum is another possible candidate at 157 ft / 47.85m (or 159 ft / 48.46m according to The

The Pont du Gard and the Colosseum.

To clarify, by 'ancient times' I mean any time up to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. However, I'd also be interested in anything taller than the examples above which was built before 1000 AD i.e. Early Medieval.

I'm only interested in man-made structures which are still standing, even if not in their entirety.

I'll put in the Hagia Sophia, which reached the height of 182ft (55.6 meters) in the year 562:

… The emperor ordered an immediate restoration. He entrusted it to Isidorus the Younger, nephew of Isidore of Miletus, who used lighter materials and elevated the dome by "30 feet"[18] (about 6.25 meters or 20.5 feet)[clarification needed] - giving the building its current interior height of 55.6 meters (182 ft).[22] Moreover, Isidorus changed the dome type, erecting a ribbed dome with pendentives, whose diameter lay between 32.7 and 33.5 m.[18] Under Justinian's orders, eight Corinthian columns were disassembled from Baalbek, Lebanon, and shipped to Constantinople around 560.[23] This reconstruction, giving the church its present 6th-century form, was completed in 562.

Not before the fall of the western Roman Empire, but (as per comments) early medieval.

  • Some more technical info on the engineering involved can be read here {Thanks @RomaH !}

I suppose that the Neolithic Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, built about 2470 - 2350 BC, is probably a contender for any list of the tallest European structures from ancient times.

At 39.3 metres (129 ft) high, I'm pretty sure it is the tallest prehistoric structure in Europe.

Photo by Greg O'Beirne, CC BY-SA 3.0, unchanged

Possible currently existing candidates after the Colosseum and the Nimes Aqueduct.

at 91 feet, the aqueduct of Ferreres, tarragona, Ic B.C.

at 89 feet, the aqueduct of Segovia.

The Hercules lighttower, Galicia. 118 feet of roman building, 72 more feet added in the 1600's during a rebuild process.

a "detailed" plan of the roman stone structure ( no details added, no ornaments, no wood, only the stone plans as discovered):

The Alcántara bridge, 90 A.D. , 147ft height , thanks to @njuffa

Borsippa was a city that was closely connected to Babylon. It had a Ziggurat built by Nebbuchadnezzar II, on the site of an older building. It belonged to the god Nabu. Originally standing at 70 meters, the remains of the ziggurat are now 52 meters tall. Medieval people thought that it was the tower of Babel. Its known as the "the tongue tower" because of its distinct shape.

Dur Kurigalzu was a city during the Old Kassite period. It was named after King Kurigalzu, c. 1375 B.C., who made it the capitol of Babylon. Bricks on the ziggurat bear the inscription of Kurgalzu II, c. 1332 B.C. The remains of the ziggurat are about 52 meters tall. The surrounding platform was rebuilt in the 90's, and its a popular destination for people in Baghdad.

I'm not sure if the OP was asking about Mesopotamia, but it is technically a part of the Near East. There was nothing in Europe close to this size until the Roman Empire.

What about the Pantheon in Rome, finished circa 126 AD?

It is 142 feet to the inside of its oculus, and the dome adds another 1.2 metres (3.9 ft).

(shared from via CC 3.0, attibuted to Lancaster, 2005).

Not only that, it is still is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome, and the only one surviving from the time of the Empire.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem


The dimensions for the Temple of Jerusalem were staggering: 460 meters to the east, 315 m to the north, 280 m to the south, and the western wall was 485 meters long.

The walls above ground rose 30 meters (ten stories tall), and their foundations were as deep as 20 meters in some places in order to reach bedrock. Each layer of the wall was recessed about 3 centimeters from the layer beneath it. This was to avoid the optical illusion created whenever you look up a tall, straight object, that it is about to fall over you.

Some of the quarried stones used in the Western Wall are so large that, to this day, archaeologists have trouble understanding how they could possibly have been transported. The smallest stones weight between 2 to 5 tons and the largest stone of them all - possibly the largest building stone in antiquity - is 13.6 meters long, 4.6 meters thick and 3.3 meters high, and is estimated to weigh 570 tons. The builders used dry construction - there is no cement between the stones. In fact, there's nothing holding the stones together except their own weight.

Today, the highest point in the exposed section reaches a height of 40 meters above the bedrock

The Jetavanaramaya in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist Stupa, is 400 feet tall. It was built between 270 and 301 AD. As the exact height of the Lighthouse of Alexandria is unknown, the Jetavanaramaya may have been taller.

Perhaps the Lighthouse of Alexandria at an estimated height of 120 meters (423 ft).

Newgrange - Neolithic burial grounds at Newgrange are older than the Egyptian Pyramids, pre-dating Stonehenge by 1,000 years. One of Europe's most important prehistoric clusters.

List of tallest buildings and structures

The world's tallest man-made structure is the 829.8-metre-tall (2,722 ft) Burj Khalifa in Dubai (of the United Arab Emirates). The building gained the official title of "tallest building in the world" and the tallest self-supported structure at its opening on January 9, 2010. Burj Khalifa was developed by Emaar properties, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and built by BESIX, Samsung Construction and Arabtec. [1] The second-tallest self-supporting structure and the tallest tower in the world is the Tokyo Skytree. The tallest guyed structure is the KVLY-TV mast.

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap
Download coordinates as: KML

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an organization that certifies buildings as the "World's Tallest", recognizes a building only if at least 50% of its height is made up of floor plates containing habitable floor area. [2] Structures that do not meet this criterion, such as the CN Tower, are defined as "towers".

There are dozens of radio and television broadcasting towers which measure over 600 metres (about 2,000 ft) in height, and only the tallest are recorded in publicly available information sources.

Aside from the Pyramids, what is the tallest man-made structure still standing in Europe & the Near East from ancient times? - History

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Meaning of "building" Edit

The earliest structures now known to be the tallest in the world were the Egyptian pyramids, with the Great Pyramid of Giza, at an original height of 146.5 metres (481 ft), being the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, until the construction of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311. From then until the completion of the Washington Monument (capped in 1884) the world's tallest buildings were churches or cathedrals. Later, the Eiffel Tower and, still later, some radio masts and television towers were the world's tallest structures.

However, though all of these are structures, some are not buildings in the sense of being regularly inhabited or occupied. It is in this sense of being regularly inhabited or occupied that the term "building" is generally understood to mean when determining what is the world's tallest building. The non-profit international organization Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which maintains a set of criteria for determining the height of tall buildings, defines a "building" as "(A) structure that is designed for residential, business or manufacturing purposes" and "has floors". [5]

Tall churches and cathedrals occupy a middle ground: their lower areas are regularly occupied, but much of their height is in bell towers and spires which are not. Whether a church or cathedral is a "building" or merely a "structure" for the purposes of determining the title of "world's tallest building" is a subjective matter of definition (this article treats churches and cathedrals as buildings).

Determination of height Edit

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat based in Chicago uses three different criteria for determining the height of a tall building, each of which may give a different result. "Height of the highest floor" is one criterion, and "height to the top of any part of the building" is another, but the default criterion used by the CTBUH is "height of the architectural top of the building", which includes spires but not antennae, masts or flag poles. [5]

The Pantheon in Rome, finished in the early 2nd century AD, has a height from floor to top of 43.45 m (143 feet), [6] which exactly corresponds to the diameter of its interior space. The Hagia Sophia, built in 537 AD in Constantinople, reaches a height of 55 m (180 feet). The ancient Kushan stupa of Kanishka (now in Pakistan, near Peshawar), completed in the 2nd century CE, had a height of between 120m to 170m. The Chinese explorer Xuanzhang described it as the tallest building in the world in his book "Records of the western regions". The Sri Lankan stupa, Jetavanaramaya constructed in the century also measured 122m when constructed. It still stands today and measures 71m.

Hwangnyongsa, or Hwangnyong Temple (also spelled Hwangryongsa) is the name of a former Buddhist temple in the city of Gyeongju, South Korea. Completed in the 7th century, the enormous 9-story structure was built entirely with wood with interlocking design with no iron nails. It had a standing total height of 68 m (223 ft) or 80 m (262 ft), [7] making it the tallest structure in East Asia and the tallest wooden structure in the world at the time of its construction.

The Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur, India was completed by 1010. It is a 16-story tower measuring 66 metres (217 ft) in height. [8] It still stands to this day.

The eastern spires of the Romanesque Speyer Cathedral, completed in 1106, reach a height of 71.3 m.

Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. The minaret, 77 metres (253 ft) in height, includes a spire and orbs. It was completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184 to 1199).

Churches and cathedrals Edit

From the 13th century until 1894, the world's tallest building was always a church or cathedral. Old St Paul's Cathedral with its spire was completed in the 13th century. The central spire of Lincoln Cathedral surpassed Old St Paul's in the early 14th century. Lincoln Cathedral's spire collapsed in 1549, beginning a long interval where the status of world's tallest building was borne by shorter buildings. St. Mary's Church in Stralsund became the world's tallest building after the collapse of Lincoln Cathedral's spire. The 153 m (502 ft) central tower of St. Pierre's Cathedral in Beauvais was tallest from 1569 until it collapsed in 1573, making St. Mary's the tallest once again. In 1647, the bell tower of St. Mary's burned down, making the shorter Strasbourg Cathedral the world's tallest building.

It was not until the completion of the Ulm Minster in 1890 that the world's tallest building was again also the tallest building ever constructed, surpassing the original configuration of Lincoln Cathedral.

Years tallest Name Location Height Increase Notes
13th century–1300 Old St Paul's Cathedral London 149 m (489 ft) 0% Destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666
1300–1549 Lincoln Cathedral Lincoln 159.7 m (524 ft) 7.2% Tallest ever building until 1890. Spire collapsed 1549.
1549–1569 St. Mary's Church Stralsund 151 m (495 ft) −5.4%
1569–1573 St. Pierre's Cathedral Beauvais 153 m (502 ft) 1.3% Tower collapsed 1573
1573–1647 St. Mary's Church Stralsund 151 m (495 ft) −1.3% Bell tower burned down in 1647
1647–1874 Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Strasbourg 142 m (466 ft) −6%
1874–1876 Church of St. Nicholas Hamburg 147 m (482 ft) 3.5%
1876–1880 Rouen Cathedral Rouen 151 m (495 ft) 2.7%
1880–1890 Cologne Cathedral Cologne 157.38 m (516.3 ft) 4.2% Tallest structure Washington Monument from 1884
1890–present Ulm Minster Ulm 161.53 m (530.0 ft) 2.6% Tallest structure Eiffel Tower from 1889

The 159.7 m (524 ft) height of Lincoln Cathedral is disputed by some, [9] but accepted by most sources. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] The completion date for the spire is given as 1311 rather than 1300 by some sources. [16] Also the 149 m (489 ft) height of the spire of Old St Paul's Cathedral, destroyed by lightning in 1561, is disputed, for example Christopher Wren (1632–1723) judged that an overestimate and gave a height of 140 m (460 ft). [17]

The spire of Mole Antonelliana in Turin, completed in 1889, is claimed to have been 167.5 m (550 ft) tall [18] however, the upper part of the structure was destroyed by a 1953 tornado and rebuilt. The building was originally conceived as a synagogue, but sold during the construction and used as museum.

Various secular buildings are cited as first skyscraper, including:

    , [19] 16 m (52 ft) tall, 5 floors, built in 1797 , 24 m (79 ft) tall, 5 floors, first use of a passenger elevator, built in 1857 , [20] at least 40 m (130 ft) tall, 9 floors, built in 1870 , [20] 79 m (259 ft) tall, 9 floors, built in 1875, expanded in 1907 to 19 floors , [21] 40 m (130 ft) tall, 10 floors, built in 1883 , [22] 42 m (138 ft) tall, 12 floors, built in 1885 , [20][23] 10 floors, built in 1890 , [20] 68.3 m (224 ft) tall, 16 floors, built in 1891 , [21] 66 m (217 ft) tall, 17 floors, built in 1891

Following list of tallest buildings is based on the default metric of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), [22] that of measuring to the highest architectural element. Other criteria would generate a different list. Shanghai World Financial Center is not on the above list, but it surpassed Taipei 101 in 2008 to become the building with the highest occupied floor. Using the criterion of highest tip (including antennae), the World Trade Center in New York City was the world's tallest building from 1972 to 2000, until the Sears Tower in Chicago (which already had a higher occupied floor than the World Trade Center) had its antenna extended to give that building the world's tallest tip a title it held until the 2010 completion of Burj Khalifa. Petronas Towers and Taipei 101 were never the world's tallest buildings by the highest–tip criterion.

Years tallest Name Location Height Increase
1890–1894 New York World Building New York City 94 m (308 ft)
1894–1899 Milwaukee City Hall Milwaukee 107.89 m (354.0 ft) 13 %
1899–1908 Park Row Building New York City 119 m (390 ft) 12 %
1908–1909 Singer Building 186.57 m (612.1 ft) 57 %
1909–1913 Metropolitan Life Tower 213.36 m (700.0 ft) 14.4 %
1913–1930 Woolworth Building 241.4 m (792 ft) 13.1 %
1930 40 Wall Street 283 m (928 ft) 17.2 %
1930–1931 Chrysler Building 318.8 m (1,046 ft) 12.65 %
1931–1971 Empire State Building 381 m (1,250 ft) 19.5 %
1971–1973 World Trade Center 417 m (1,368 ft) 9.45 %
1973–1998 Willis Tower Chicago 442 m (1,450 ft) 6 %
1998–2004 Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur 451.9 m (1,483 ft) 2.24 %
2004–2010 Taipei 101 Taipei 508.2 m (1,667 ft) 12.68 %
2010–present Burj Khalifa Dubai 828 m (2,717 ft) 62.61 %

Since 2010, Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building by any criterion. It has the highest architectural element, tip and occupied floor, and is indeed the tallest structure of any kind ever built, surpassing the (now destroyed) 646.38 m (2,120.7 ft) Warsaw radio mast.

Since the completion of the Washington Monument in 1884, the world's tallest building has not usually also been the world's tallest structure. The exceptions are 1930–1954, when the Chrysler Building and then the Empire State building surpassed the Eiffel Tower (to be surpassed in turn by a succession of broadcast masts, starting with the Griffin Television Tower in Oklahoma), and from 2010 with the completion of Burj Khalifa.

9. Big Ben

Big Ben is the name given to the clock’s Great Bell in the palace of Westminster. The name is used interchangeably to refer to the clock tower or the clock itself. The Clock Tower was the original name of the tower where Big Ben is located. In 2012, the name was changed to Elizabeth Tower during the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The tower was constructed in neo-gothic style, and its designer was Augustus Pugin. Its construction was completed in 1859, and it was the most accurate and the largest four-faced clock in the world. The tower stands at 315 feet above the ground and its base measures 39 feet on each side. The diameter of the clock’s dials is 23 feet. The tower's 150th-anniversary celebrations were held on May 31, 2009. Of the Five Bells, Big Ben is the largest and weighs 13.7 tons and it held the record of the largest bell in the UK for 23 years. The tower has become a British cultural icon, and is easily recognizable around the world. It has also become one of the UK’s symbols as well as the symbol of the parliamentary democracy.


Porter, Barbara N. Images, Power and Politics: Figurative Aspects of Esarhaddon’s Babylonian Policy. American Philosophical Society, 1993. Available at:

I am a writer, a teacher and a father, with 5 years of experience writing online. I have written for a number of major history parenting and comedy websites. My writing has appeared on the front pages of Yahoo, The Onion. Read More

The Pyramid of Menkaure

The Pyramid of Menkaure (also known as Mycerinus), who ruled from 2490-2472 BC, is often seen as the runt of the group. It’s just half as high as the other two pyramids. And being further out in the desert means it gets fewer visitors.

But there are some interesting and unique features to this pyramid that make it well worth checking out. (The interior of the the pyramid was closed during my visit. It supposedly only opens up for months out of the year, alternating with Khafre’s pyramid.)

The triad statues of Menkaure

Menkaure was the son of Khafre and the grandon of Khufu. As with the other two, we know relatively little about his life and reign.

During your visit to the Cairo Museum, be sure to look for the outstanding statues of him carved from schist. Four have been found, all of which show Menkaure accompanied by Hathor and a local goddess of the Bat nome in Middle Egypt. Menkaure wears the crown of Upper Egypt in each.

Getting up close to the pyramid, you’ll immediately notice something that sets it apart from others. The bottom of its exterior is entirely lined with red granite casing stones, while the (now) bare upper half was supposedly dressed in limestone.

What’s especially peculiar is that some parts have been smoothed down while other sections remain rough. In some areas, you can see a striking transition between the two phases, as if the workers suddenly walked off the job one day.

Menkaure’s mortuary complex is also well worth exploring and it could be considered a hidden gem of the Giza Plateau. As with Khafre’s temple and the structures near the Sphinx, it’s largely comprised of huge and weathered limestone blocks.

But some parts were also lined with granite blocks, much like Khafre’s Valley Temple. There are also some pillared corridors in addition to a wide open courtyard.

To the south of the pyramid are three small pyramids, unfinished, supposedly belonging to Menkaure’s queens. Unlike those nearby the Great Pyramid, these cannot be entered by tourists.

Southeast of Menkaure’s pyramid complex are a number of tombs. While probably not officially open to the public, you can head inside some of them for a peak if no staff are around. Just don’t expect to find any treasures.

After exploring the Menkaure pyramid, you can walk over to the famous pyramid alignment viewpoint in the middle of the desert.


Curt, look up Gobleki Tepi. It's huge, and they are only scratching the surface. It is also 10,000 years old.
I think thanks to Lidar a whole earlier phase of archaeology will be opened up.
Knowledge and truth change with discoveries. As a child, Inwas told that dinosaurs must have been water dwelling, as their structure would have collapsed without the buoyancy of water. Things change. )

You are quite right, an INNER/INTERNAL corner of three surfaces each in a 90 degrees convergence to the other two is almost impossible to occur naturally beyond rock fragments of a few centimeters long - due to mechanical reasons. This is obvious at a certain area where these surfaces are several meters long, not to mention that a) there are peripheral steps to the horizontal surface, and b) I have seen a printed reproduction (to the office next to mine) of 19th century copper engravings showing the Pnyka Step in Athens - and it is IDENTICAL to all details with the Yonaguni area I am referring to (peripheral steps - even the number of steps if I remember correctly), 3 surfaces' convergence at 90 degrees angles, even the huge rock it has been carved on). If you are in the mood, please continue reading of the following, the first three elements are hard facts, easily verifiable, the fourth is part theory:
A) the inhabitants of prehistoric Japan until 600-300 BC were 'white' - not from east Asia,
b) archaic ancient Greek symbols were widely in use in this area of Japan until the end of the 19th century (19th century photos have been published),
c) the Yona/Yonian, Yunan, Junan, Jawan, Yawan, Ionian is definitely the prefix for anything Greek through the whole of Asia, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean (including the YUNAN area in China, where ancient cities with many Greek Art style findings, architecture and furniture have been found),
d) Greek Mythology, which is not only about gods and monsters and often seems to be historically accurate, clearly states that there was a great campaign to the east under Dionysus some millennia BC, (theory part: possibly to reunite with the Greeks living there). (Theory part: this is also considered to be one of the tasks for the continuation of the campaign to the East after Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire) - please remember that his formidable mother, Olympias, was privy to some of the Holy Mysteries of the ancient Greek religion and, quite possibly, the source for his 'secret' knowledge of central Asia ancient authors refer to the books he carried from Greece and described the areas he was campaigning through - and that this knowledge was not known to exist.
MORE SCIENTIFIC FACTS: The names of several famous Japanese landmarks have been identified by linguists as of Greek origin - Hiroshima and Mount Fuji/Yamanaka lake among them. Other linguists have PROVEN that far too many words in pacific islands' dialects are of similar to Greek phonetics and meaning to be attributed as coincidence. The last catastrophic eruption of Mount Fuji is set at 10,000 BC approx. This coincides with one of the cataclysmic events of global scale described in Greek mythology - or should we say history? Theory: the loss of contact between eastern-most (beyond Iran -
tribal 'cousins' according to Greek Mythology/History) and the rest of the Greeks is set during this time.

I seem to remeber reading that 90 degree angles are quite rare in nature. Also, even if it natural, how could so many 90 degree angles appear so close together? Did they migrate there? I think this is just another case of mainstream archeologists ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit their theory of human evolution, I think all these underwater structures are evidence of an advanced society that lived pre last ice age.

If this find is older than five thousand years that would throw the 6000 BC building spurt for the pyramids right out the proverbial window

The 102-story tall Empire State Building is famous for being one of the first skyscrapers ever built, and is one of the most famous buildings in New York. The building rises to a height of 1,454 feet. For nearly 40 years, the Empire State Building enjoyed the title of being the world’s tallest building. The building serves as a cultural icon of America. The Empire State Building has been featured in several films, television shows, and literature. Nearly 110 million people have visited this New York City attraction. The 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building offers an impressive view of the entire city.

How Many Pyramids are there in the World?

1. Giza

Probably the most famous pyramids in the world, Giza is home to Ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid, the famous Sphinx and two other amazing pyramids. The largest pyramid in Giza, and in the world, belongs to the second king of the Fourth Dynasty, Khufu or “Cheop”. Khufu’s pyramid is Giza’s oldest and, at its great size of 145 metres, became known as “The Great Pyramid”. In fact, Khufu’s pyramid was once the tallest structure in the world as well as being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Giza is also where one finds the Great Sphinx. Estimated to date back to 2528–2520 BC, some Egyptologists believe that this majestic half man, half lion is modelled on Khafra.

2. Teotihuacan

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 pyramids on the planet. Teotihuacan was a holy Mesoamerican city built in around 400 BC in what is now Mexico and forms one of the country’s oldest archaeological sites. Characterised by looming stepped pyramids, one of the most impressive aspects of Teotihuacan is the sheer size of these monuments. Incredibly well-preserved, despite a fire which tore through Teotihuacan in the 7th century, Teotihuacan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to Teotihuacan can maneouver their way through the city via its original streets, such as Avenue of the Dead, which divided the city into quarters, although take note that the site is absolutely enormous.

3. Angkor Wat

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. Incredibly grand and ornately decorated, Angkor Wat’s sand-coloured buildings rise up to form five towers, representing the home of the Hindu deities. Friezes and sculptures are found throughout, depicting both day-to-day life from the time it was built and religious events. Whilst the complex in Angkor is believed to have been founded circa 980 AD by Yasovarman I, king of the Khmer Dynasty, Angkor Wat itself is thought to date back to the twelfth century. Today Angkor is one of Cambodia’s most popular tourist sites, there’s an incredible amount to see and it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992.

4. Saqqara

Saqqara was the burial ground of the Egyptian city of Memphis and home to numerous pyramids and tombs. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Saqqara contains eleven major pyramids sprawled over six miles, including the first ever pyramid, known as the Step Pyramid and funerary complex of pharaoh Djoser. Saqqara is massive and, for those short on time the best places to see are in the north, including the Serapeum, Djoser’s funerary complex and, in between these two, the Mastaba of Akhti-Hotep and Ptah-Hotep, the son and grandson of official Ptah-Hotep.

5. Chichen Itza

Stunningly well-preserved and imposingly beautiful, Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most impressive historical sites and includes the world famous, looming Mesoamerican step-pyramid known as El Castillo. A UNESCO World Heritage site based in the forests of the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is actually made up of two cities built by two peoples, the Mayas and the Toltecs. The site is made up of several surviving buildings including a circular observatory known as El Caracol, the Warriors’ Temple and El Castillo.

6. Pyramid of Cestius

The Pyramid of Cestius is a truly unique Roman pyramid built as a tomb for the affluent magistrate Caius Cestius between 18 and 12 BC. Constructed of white marble and brick, this ostentatious 35-metre high tomb was likely built in this style due to the popularity of all things Egyptian which swept Rome after Egypt was incorporated into the Empire. Inside the tomb contained a number of frescoes depicting scenes from Roman mythology while an inscription still visible on the exterior gives details about its construction and dedication. This pyramid-tomb was later set into the Aurelian Walls, helping to ensure its preservation through the ages.

7. Monte Alban

A remarkable UNESCO listed pre-Columbian site in Mexico, Monte Alban contains a number of large and impressive pyramids, probably built by the Zapotecs. Monte Alban was inhabited for approximately 1,500 years by a succession of civilisations, including the Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs and, at its peak, had a population of around 25,000 people. The site is characterised by over 2,200 terraces as well as numerous pyramid structures, large staircases, ornate palaces, elaborate tombs and even a ball court – the ball games played were as serious as it gets and often ended in the death of the losers. Today, Monte Alban is a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a small on-site museum showing some of the finds from the excavations.

8. Tchogha Zanbil

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. The undeniable focal point of the ruins of Tchogha Zanbil is one of the greatest – if not in fact the greatest – ziggurats to have been built in Mesopotamia. Originally a temple dedicated to the deity Inshushinak, it developed to become the ornate pyramid-like structure – ziggurat – that stands today, although at 25 metres high it is now just a shadow of its former self having once risen to 60 metres.

9. Brihadisvara 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. Built from 1003 to 1010 during the reign of Rajaraja I, the temple was constructed in honour of the Hindu deity Shiva. It is an incredibly ornate and grand mostly granite structure, with seemingly endless sculptures and carvings chronicling this deity’s life as well as that of other holy figures.

10. Dahshur

Dahshur was once home to eleven Ancient Egyptian pyramids, of which few have survived. However, for those wishing to view the Egypt’s pyramids in peace and quiet, Dahshur is the place to go. Unlike the more popular Giza and Saqqara, Dahshur has not become a tourist hotspot, despite its ancient attractions, including the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid. Built by the pharaoh Sneferu, founder of the Fourth Dynasty and father of Khufu, the Red Pyramid is one of Dahshur’s most famous residents and the second oldest pyramid ever built. In fact, it is thought that this was where Sneferu himself was buried.