There’s a gigantic pyramid hidden inside a mountain in Mexico, and it’s the largest pyramid in the world, even bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Did you know that the world’s largest pyramid is located in Mexico, not Egypt? The Pyramid of Cholula, which stands proudly, is the largest pyramid ever erected on Earth, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza in volume.
Known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for “made-by-hand mountain”), the Pyramid is located west of Puebla, in the city of Cholula. The site has the world’s largest pyramid and the greatest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World. It’s the size of nine Olympic-sized swimming pools. In this post, we’ve included some key details regarding this old engineering marvel that you should be aware of.
The Largest Pyramid on Earth
The Great Pyramid of Cholula is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest pyramid and the largest monument created anywhere in the world. Cholula’s pyramid is also known for having the largest pyramid foundation in the Americas.
The pyramid itself has a volume of more than 4.45 million cubic metres, making it significantly greater than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which has a volume of roughly 2.5 million cubic metres and is frequently mistaken for the largest pyramid on Earth. Despite its bigger volume, the Cholula Pyramid is substantially shorter than the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Today, the pyramid remains buried beneath the soil. In fact, when the Spanish conquistadores came to Cholula, they completely missed the structure as the Natives made sure to hide their precious monuments from the Spanish armies.
The pyramid is truly massive. The base measures a total of 160,000 square meters, which means the Pyramid of Cholula has three times the area of the 53,056.5 square meter base area of Pharaoh Khufu’s Great Pyramid of Giza.
It was an important religious center in ancient times. Scholars believe that the pyramid was considered sacred to a rain goddess called Chiconauhquiauhitl (Goddess of the Nine Rains).
Legend has it that Giant’s built it
According to Aztec legend, it is believed that the Great Pyramid of Cholula was erected by Xelhua, one of the seven Giants in Aztec Mythology. Xelhua is thought to have ‘escaped the Great Flood’ after he ascended the mountain of Tlaloc in the terrestrial paradise. This was after he supposedly built the pyramid.
The Pyramid, thought to have been built using adobe bricks, is made of six superimposed structures. Each of the structure is thought to have belonged to the ethnic group that dominated it. So far, experts have only managed to study three of the structures in detail.
Historians argue that the pyramid’s construction began sometimes during the Preclassic Period. The structure was built over six times until it reached its current dimensions, measuring 450 meters on each side.
The pyramid of Cholula is part of a massive archaeological zone that is estimated to cover around 154 hectares (0.59 sq mi). The site where the pyramid was built was once referred to as Acholollan, which means place of flight in Nahuatl.
The Pyramid remained shrouded in mystery until Adolph Bandelier. In 1881, an American archaeologist who was born in Switzerland began investigating the construction. Three years later, in 1884, the first findings were published. The researcher dug around the pyramid in multiple regions, uncovering various tombs and collecting countless skulls. Many of the artefacts recovered from the pyramid’s surroundings ended up in the United States.
The pyramid was eventually excavated in two phases. The pyramid was discovered in 1931 by Mexican archaeologist Ignacio Marquina, while the majority of the labour, such as leading excavations, was done by site guardian Marino Gómez. Excavations eventually yielded up to eight kilometres of tunnels.
Inside, archaeologists discovered altars with offerings, walls, and human bones dating from roughly 900 AD. Merely 800 metres of the complete eight kilometres of tunnels are available to the public.
Archaeologists have discovered up to 400 human burials near the pyramid over the course of several years of investigations. The majority of these graves come from the Postclassic Period and demonstrate the Great Pyramid’s significance to the locals.