As seen from the Amazing Step Pyramids list, ancient civilizations all around the world built step pyramids. After the ancient Egyptians constructed the step pyramid of Djoser however they soon changed their design into the straight-sided true pyramid. The design of the true pyramid was used around 2600 BC and continued to be the favored form for royal burial until 1550 BC when the Egyptian stopped building pyramids entirely.
Later civilizations took inspiration from the Egyptians for their own tombs and even today architects have used the pyramid shape as a design for all sorts of buildings including hotels, casino’s and skyscrapers. So, our top 10 list of true pyramids is made-up of all kinds of true pyramids around the globe, covering a time span of more than 4,500 years.
Located in the heart of the Financial District, the Transamerica Pyramid is San Francisco‘s other famous icon besides the Golden Gate. According to its architect, William L. Pereira, a pyramid is the ideal shape for skyscrapers, offering the advantage of letting more air and light in the streets below. Finished in 1972, the Transamerica Pyramid has a height of 260 meters (85 feet).
In 1987 the North Korean government began the construction of a mega hotel, apparently as a response to a South Korean company’s completion of the Stamford Hotel in Singapore the previous year. Construction of the “Hotel of Doom” was plagued with problems from the beginning and ceased entirely after five years due to financial difficulties leaving the city of Pyongyang a bizarre and unfinished pyramid skyscraper of 330 meters in height. It’s by far the largest structure in the country and the world’s 24th tallest building. Official pictures of Pyongyang often show the Ryugyong Hotel illuminated at night, but this is due to photo manipulation.
The Pyramid of Cestius in Rome was built around 18 BC – 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo. It is of brick-faced concrete covered with white carrara marble and measuring exactly 100 Roman feet (22 m) square at the base and 125 Roman feet (27 m) high. It is assumed that the pyramid was modeled on the true pyramids in Nubia, which Rome attacked in 23 BC, as opposed to the much less steeply-pointed Egyptian pyramids.
The Luxor was among the first of a decade-long wave of new megaresorts to emerge on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1990s. Opened in 1993 after only eighteen months of construction, the Luxor debuted with a billed 2,526 guest rooms and suites, 120,000 square feet of casino area, a showroom, restaurants, and entertainment venues on its second floor. Its 30-story glass and steel pyramid is three-quarters the size of its model, the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians were not the only pyramid builders in Africa. To the south, the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, located in modern-day Sudan, culturally heavily influenced by its neighbor Egypt, also built pyramids to serve as tombs for their kings and queens. In fact, approximately 220 true pyramids were eventually constructed at three sites in Nubia, almost double the number of Egyptian pyramids. In the early 3rd century BC, a king, perhaps Arnekhameni, selected Gebel Barkal for his pyramid tomb and those of his several queens. While his immediate successors preferred to build their tombs at Meroë, more royalty built their pyramids at Gebel Barkal during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.
Five miles south of Saqqara in Egypt stands the mysterious tower-like pyramid of Meidum, which today scarcely resembles a typical pyramid at all. The pyramid was probably built during the reign of the 4th Dynasty pharaoh Sneferu, although it is believed by some that the pyramid may have been started by Sneferu’s predecessor, Huni. At some point during its construction the steps of the pyramid were filled with limestone encasing marking the first attempt by the ancient Egyptians at the construction of a true pyramid.
The most extensive pyramid site of Nubia lies north of Khartoum, along the Nile River in ancient Meroë. The oldest pyramid at the sites dates to the end of the 6th or 5th century BC. Meroë remained the royal cemetery for around 600 years and almost 40 generations of Nubian royalty are buried here.
The Beny Pyramid located at Dahshur was the second pyramid built by pharaoh Sneferu. Mysteriously, this true pyramid rises from the desert at an angle of 55 degrees and then suddenly changes to a more gradual angle of 43 degrees. One theory holds that due to the steepness of the original angle the weight to be added above the inner chambers and passageways became to large, forcing the builders to adopt a shallower angle. Today, the Bent Pyramid is the only pyramid in Egypt of which the outer casing of polished limestone is still largely intact.
Pharaoh Sneferu, still not happy with the result of his last pyramid, started the construction of yet another pyramid taking 10 years and 7 months to complete. With the same shallow 43 degree angle as the upper section of the Bent Pyramid, the Red Pyramid is the world’s first successful attempt at constructing a true pyramid. At 104 meters it is the 4th highest pyramid ever built in Egypt. What really makes the Red Pyramid special today is the lack of crowds that plagues the Giza Plateau and the comparatively unregulated interior access.
The Giza necropolis, situated in the immediate vicinity of the southwestern suburbs of Cairo is probably the most famous ancient site in the world. The pyramids in Giza were built over the span of three generations – by Khufu, his second reigning son Khafre, and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest and sole remnant of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Over 2 million blocks of stone were used to construct the pyramid, during a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. The pyramid is an awe-inspiring 139 meters (455 feet) high making it the largest pyramid in Egypt, although nearby Khafre’s Pyramid appears to be larger as it is build at a higher elevation.