The Great Pyramid of Cholula, just outside the city of Puebla in Mexico, is that largest constructed pyramid in the world, with each side at the base measuring 400 meters and an overall height of 450 meters. Because the pyramid is covered in earth and vegetation, it feels like a mountain to be near it and it’s nearly impossible to imagine it as built by humans. Other archeological digs reveal further the extent of the built city. The pyramid was built in 4 stages between the 3rd century BC and the 9th century AD. In the first stage there was a flat pyramid of 5 levels, then 2 more levels were added, then the whole thing was covered in another greater pyramid, and then again until the “current” state of the Great Pyramid.
Why is it covered in earth and trees? Contrary to other sites where abandonment caused the structure to be overtaken by nature, the Great Pyramid at Cholula was covered up on purpose before the Spanish arrived. Legend tells that a man in Cholula had a dream that foretold of the coming of the invaders, and the pyramid was completely covered in earth in order to hide and protect it. A small temple was built on top, apparently as a decoy. When the Spanish arrived, they destroyed this small temple and erected a large cross, never suspecting that the mountain they were standing on was in fact a pyramid.
Interestingly, the cross erected by the Spanish was fairly promptly destroyed by lightning. Another cross was erected and this one, too, was destroyed by lightning. Finally this was replaced with a larger structure, which was later replaced by the church that stands on top of the pyramid today.