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Niapiskau island, limestone monoliths, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Canada
Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia, is often referred to as the biggest monolith. While the surrounding rocks were eroded, the rock survived as sandstone strata making up the surviving Uluru 'monolith'.
Monolithos fortress on Rhodes, Greece
Landsat 7 image Brandberg Mountain, Namibia
Gavea Rock, a monolith next to the sea, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A monolith is a geological feature consisting of a single massive stone or rock, such as some mountains. Erosion usually exposes the geological formations, which are often made of very hard and solid igneous or metamorphic rock. Some monoliths are volcanic plugs, solidified lava filling the vent of an extinct volcano.

In architecture, the term has considerable overlap with megalith, which is normally used for prehistory, and may be used in the contexts of rock-cut architecture that remains attached to solid rock, as in monolithic church, or for exceptionally large stones such as obelisks, statues, monolithic columns or large architraves, that may have been moved a considerable distance after quarrying. It may also be used of large glacial erratics moved by natural forces.

The word derives, via the Latin monolithus, from the Ancient Greek word μονόλιθος (monólithos), from μόνος (mónos) meaning "one" or "single" and λίθος (líthos) meaning "stone".

Geological monoliths[edit]

Large, well-known monoliths include:




Savandurga, India, from the northern side
Sangla Hill, Pakistan



Penyal d'Ifac, Spain

North America[edit]

United States[edit]

Beacon Rock, Washington, viewed from the west
El Capitan in Yosemite
Stawamus Chief as seen from Valleycliffe neighborhood in Squamish, British Columbia



South America[edit]

El Peñón, monolith in Colombia, located in Antioquia

Outside Earth[edit]

Monumental monoliths[edit]

A structure which has been excavated as a unit from a surrounding matrix or outcropping of rock.[11]

See also[edit]

  • Granite dome – Rounded hills of bare granite formed by exfoliation
  • Bornhardt – A large dome-shaped, steep-sided, bald rock
  • Inselberg – Isolated, steep rock hill on relatively flat terrain
  • Butte – Isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small, relatively flat top
  • Kigilyakh – Natural tall rock pillars in Yakutia
  • Megalith – Large stone used to build a structure or monument
  • Menhir – Large upright standing stone
  • Monadnock – Isolated, steep rock hill on relatively flat terrain (or inselberg)
  • Monolith (Space Odyssey) – Fictional artefacts from Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey novels
  • Monolithic architecture – Buildings carved or excavated from a single material, usually rock
  • Monolithos (Rhodes) – Human settlement
  • Utah Monolith – Modern structure of unknown origin in southern Utah


  1. ^ Lee (31 January 2018). "A Guide To The Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur". The Culture Trip. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  2. ^ Siddeshwar (3 June 2017). "Journeys across Karnataka: Ekasila Gutta, Warangal fort". Journeys across Karnataka. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  3. ^ "Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2024. Oddly shaped rock pillars sculpted by wind and sea create the unique islandscape of the natural reserve
  4. ^ "Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve". Government of Canada. 19 November 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2024. Several animal and plant species present on the islands of the Mingan Archipelago and the surrounding landscape are endangered or at risk
  5. ^ Michael Melford photograph (6 July 2011). "Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve". Quebec, Canada: National Geographic. Retrieved 10 January 2024. close to a thousand islands and islets sprinkled along 93 miles from east to west, 24,711 acres
  6. ^ Zach Baranowski, photograph. "The Mingan Archipelago". St Lawrence golf: Canadian Geographic. Retrieved 10 January 2024. the shoreline at low tide reveals seemingly endless tide pools full of barnacles, green sea urchins, sea stars and other small invertebrates.
  7. ^ López Domínguez, Leonor (May 2001). "Villa de Bernal and its Magic Mountain". México Desconocido #291. Archived from the original on 13 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Peña de Bernal - Bernal - Queretaro" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 27 October 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  9. ^ Carrillo, Raul (2007). Northrop, Laura Cava; Curtis, Dwight L.; Sherman, Natalie (eds.). Let's Go Mexico: On a Budget. Macmillan. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-312-37452-5.
  10. ^ Escobar Ledesma, Agustín (1999). Recetario del semidesierto de Querétaro: Acoyos, rejalgares y tantarrias. Conaculta. p. 75. ISBN 978-970-18-3910-2.
  11. ^ "Glossary". Archived from the original on 1 January 2010.

External links[edit]