Here Are 15 Things You Should Know About the Largest Pyramid on Earth

The base of the Great Pyramid of Cholula measures a stunning 160,000 square meters, which means it is three times the area of the 53,056.5 square meter base area of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Pyramidomania, a World of Pyramids.”

Written by Ivan Petricevic.


Pyramids have been a passion of mine for quite some time. It’s maybe because I grew up in a country whose ancestors built some of the most impressive pyramids the world has ever seen.

I grew up in Mexico, and thanks to my family, I’ve traveled the world visiting some of the most amazing places out there.

But I hold a special place in my heart for Mexico, my second home. Playa del Carmen and Cancun, although I lived in many other places.

But Mexico is where I grew up. The place where I learned about some of the most amazing civilizations to inhabit the planet. And precisely where I met some of the most amazing people that I can proudly call friends.

Mexico is home to many pyramids.

Some of the most prominent pyramids are the ones built at Teotihuacan, Cholula, Chichen Itza, Coba, Calakmul, El Tajin, Palenque, and La Venta.

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And yes, there are many other pyramids scattered across the country.

The love for Mexico, pyramids, and ancient civilizations is what catapulted me into a journey like no other.

It’s called Pyramidomania, and it’s my upcoming book.

It has boggled my mind why ancient civilizations built so many pyramids across the world. Why Pyramids? Why so similar in shape and design? Why so huge?

Numerous theories postulated throughout the years have tried answering these questions, but deep inside, I guess we know that there are many things about the pyramids that continue to elude us, despite our best attempts to decipher their secrets.

American Air Transport Command plane flies over the pyramids of Egypt. Flights from the U.S. supplied strategic battle zones of North Africa during World War 2. 1943. Shutterstock.
American Air Transport Command plane flies over the pyramids of Egypt. Flights from the U.S. supplied strategic battle zones of North Africa during World War 2. 1943. Shutterstock.

And one of the most secretive and amazing pyramids the world has seen is located precisely in Mexico.

In the modern-day state of Puebla is a city dating back thousands of years.

Called Cholula, this ancient metropolis hides a massive secret. Beneath one of its hills lay the remains of the largest pyramid the world has ever seen. In its current state, the pyramid is barely visible at all. It looks like an ordinary, massive hill with a colonial church on its summit.

By the time the Spanish conquistadores had ventured into the heart of Mexico and arrived in Cholula, the pyramid was overgrown by lush vegetation and exotic plants. Legends say that when the natives heard of the arrival of the Conquistadors, they buried the structure hoping to save it from destruction.

It is no surprise that the Spanish took such an interest in the city. When Hernán Cortés visited Cholula, he called it “the most beautiful city outside Spain.” The city was the second-largest in the Aztec Empire upon the arrival of Cortés.

Here Are 15 things you should know about this behemoth pyramid.

Artist's conception of what the pyramid might have looked like. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Artist’s conception of what the pyramid might have looked like. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It is colloquially known as the Great Pyramid (of Cholula), and it is a pyramid, unlike any other on Earth. The ancients referred to the pyramid as Tlachihualtepetl or the “made-by-hand mountain.”

The Pyramid was constructed over various periods and numerous cultures are believed to have participated in its construction.

The Pyramid of Cholula is not only the largest Pyramid ever built on the world, but it is also the largest monument built anywhere on the planet. The Pyramid has a total height of 66 meters.

The Pyramid of Cholula measures 450 meters by 450 meters and is acknowledged as the largest pyramid on Earth according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

This massive pyramid is believed to have been built in honor of the Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl, whose name originates from the Nahuatl language meaning “feathered serpent” or “Quetzal-feathered Serpent.”

The general consensus is that the Pyramid was built around 300 BC although it remains a mystery who its initial builders were.

It is generally agreed that the Pyramid, a great Russian doll of ancient construction, was built by various participating cultures over a period of around 1,000 years. It is thought to have been completed around the ninth century A.D.

Having a total estimated volume of 4.45 million cubic meters, the Great Pyramid of Cholula was a pyramid that was worthy of the most impressive monuments in the world, even larger than the great pyramid of Giza, in Egypt, which contains an approximately 2.5 million cubic meters.

It’s truly massive. Really. The Pyramid’s base is so big that it is the largest pyramid base anywhere in the Americas.

The base of the Great Pyramid of Cholula measures a stunning 160,000 square meters, which means it is three times the area of the 53,056.5 square meter base area of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

The Pyramid was so large that legends suggest it was constructed by a giant called Xelhua; one of the seven mighty giants of Aztec Mythology. Xelhua is said to have escaped the great flood by climbing Mount Tlaloc in the earthly paradise, and after waiting out the flood, he decided to erect the Great Pyramid.

The Pyramids was built in a city equally stunning. According to reports, Cholula was the second-largest city in pre-Columbian Mexico, and more than 100,000 people called this place home. It was Teotihuacan, an ancient pyramid city not far from Puebla, Cholula, that was bigger than the later.

The archeological site of Cholula consists of nearly 155 hectares. But despite the size and importance of the site, archeological work has been limited. The pyramid, for example, is the least explored structures of them all.

When the Spanish came to Cholula they didn’t see the pyramid as it was overgrown by vegetation by the time they arrived. The Spanish were left impressed by the city. Unknowingly, in 1563 they built a Church; ‘Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios’, on top of the overgrown pyramid. That’s mostly due to the religious and historical importance of the Church of Our Lady of Remedies. The pyramid cannot be excavated and restored since the church sits at its summit.

Despite limited archeological work, experts have managed to find out a lot about the Pyramid. Researchers have discovered around 8 kilometers of tunnels beneath the pyramid. Inside the tunnels, archeologists recovered different artifacts including offerings, human remains, as well as pottery fragments dating back to circa 900 A.D. The region where the pyramid was built was inhabited for over 3,000 years.