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Five Epic Pyramids of the World

Most likely, the only pyramids you learned about in school were the “Great” ones in Egypt. If you were lucky, you maybe heard that there were some in Central America, but mostly the education was all about Giza and the buried Pharaohs. However, pyramids were built as sacred architecture all over the world, from Chichen Itza (Mexico) to Indonesia; from China to the Canary Islands. If you’re traveling because you’re interested in cultures that you may not have known about before, then you have to check out these epic pyramids of the world.

1) Pyramids of Guimar (Tenerife) – Tenerife is one of the most well-traveled locales in the Canary Islands. There are plenty of hotels and cheap flights to Tenerife; this makes the Pyramids of Guimar a great first “Pyramid That’s Not In Egypt” to see. Built out of volcanic rock and fitted together without mortar, these pyramids are mysterious in that a) they’re comparable in size to all the major pyramids of the world, yet b) no one knows who built them. There are all kinds of stories involving Gnostic Christians, Freemasons, or even Aztec traders before the first millennium, but no one knows for sure. That’s why they’re so interesting.

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2) Pyramids of Meroe (Sudan) – Just south of Egypt, a completely different civilization, the Kush, built a completely different sort of pyramid by the city of Meroe. Less vast monuments and more very large gravestones, the graveyards in Meroe contain over fifty pyramids for royalty, set within a vast, rocky desert landscape. Due to politics, Sudan can be a difficult place to travel, but the Meroe graveyard is nothing short of chilling, when you consider the rich Nubian history and the modern-day constant civil war. If you’re interested in the Meroe architecture but don’t want to travel there, consider visiting the Pyramid of Cestius in Rome – the Romans copied Nubian architecture.

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3) Tomb of the General (Eastern China) – The Tomb of the General, also known as the Pyramid of the East, is located in the Chinese province of Jilin, bordering Korea. Home to the ancient kings of Korea, it is a fascinating political landmark in that its sister temple, the Mausoleum of Tangun, is located in Pyongyang, North Korea. China and Korea have a complex past together, and by climbing the steps and entering into the underground mausoleum, you can tap into the aesthetics that both bridge and divide the Koreans and the Chinese.

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4) Brihadeeswarar Temple (India) – Sacred to the Tamil Emperor in the 11 Century BC, Brihadeeswarar was literally where the king became a god. By ascending the tower and being anointed by the priests, the emperor could proceed to speak with the voice of Shiva, the Auspicious Deva, the lord of the dance. The temple complex, located in the city of Thanjavur, contains numerous examples of Indian pyramidal architecture, as it was added to at many points between the 11th and 16th Centuries.

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5) Chichen Itza (Mesoamerica) – One of the most famous pyramid complexes in the world, Chichen Itza (literally “the mouth of the well of magic”) is where Maya priests sacrificed human beings so that their blood might spill into the well of magic for the good of the whole. The complex is thought to be an entire “holy city” of sorts, complete with living quarters for the king and queen, a ball court for entertainment, and a steam bath for relaxation. The draw of Chichen Itza is the ability to explore the ancient holy city of a people now long gone, and to imagine yourself in their shoes.

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