Built to last an eternity over 4,500 years ago, the pyramids are still standing strong on the very edge of the Sahara Desert.
The Short Version of History
Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek) started the first Giza pyramid project, circa 2550 B.C. This is referred to as The Great Pyramid and is the largest in Giza. The length of each side at the base averaging 755.75 feet (230 meters) and rises 481.4 feet (147 meters) above the plateau. It has an estimated 2.3 million stone blocks each weighing in at an average of 2.5 to 15 tons.
Khufu’s son, Pharaoh Khafre (Greek: Chephren), built the second pyramid, circa 2520 B.C. IT was built at 707.75 feet (216 meters), and was originally 471 feet (143 meters) high – a tad smaller to honor his father.
His necropolis also included the Sphinx. Carved out of a single piece of limestone, it is a monument with the body of a lion and a pharaoh’s head. Measuring in at 73.5 meters (241 ft) long, 19.3 meters (63 ft) wide, and 20.22 meters (66.34 ft) high, it is the biggest monolith statue in the world, and also the world’s oldest monumental statue. There is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the Sphinx, including who’s head is on the lion body, and how it got its name, which in English means “Terrifying One” or “Father of Dread”
Menkaure (Greek: Mykerinus), is the fifth king of the 4th dynasty; and the creator of the third pyramid. Each side measures 356.5 feet (109 meters), and the structure’s completed height was 218 feet (66 meters).
- There is only one Great Pyramid.
- There are actually 9 pyramids at the site – 6 of them were for Queens and royal family members.
- The Pyramids were not built by slaves. The workers came from poor Egyptian families from the north and the south. They were respected and paid for their work. Should workers have died during construction, they had the honor of being buried near the pharaohs with supplies for the afterlife (beer and bread).
- The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the last one still in existence.
- The three Giza pyramids are precisely aligned with the constellation of Orion. This could have been intended. Orion is associated with Osiris, the god of rebirth and afterlife, by the Ancient Egyptians.
Visiting the Pyramids
Of all the grandiose photos and videos I have seen in my life to inspire a trip to Egypt, nothing is an adequate substitute for seeing them in person.
That being said, here is the reality of visiting the Pyramids.
Graverobbers looted and pillaged the treasures contained in the pyramids during both ancient and modern times. Most of the bodies and funeral goods were removed. The exteriors were plundered of their limestone and thus, are smaller than they were originally built.
Don’t plan a full day for this. Once you are there, there is really not that much to do.
Now, you can go inside the pyramids. If this sounds fun to you, then by all means, do it.
- It is going to be hot outside. It’s cooler inside, but zero air flow.
- The stairs are steep.
- The stairs are narrow.
- You have to bend over to walk down the stairs.
- There is nothing on the inside.
- You have to come back up the stairs.
- A lot of people do NOT have on deodorant.
If I were still in my 20’s you could not have kept me from going in. But I’m not, so I didn’t.
- You can climb some of the big stones.
- You can ride a camel or a horse. The animals are not treated very well so the animal welfare side of me wouldn’t allow for it. Oh, and watch where you step.
- There are some cool tours going on.
- There is actually a fully intact ship found on the complex that you can visit. (The cost is 80 LE, [$4.08 USD]) and you have to slip some booties over your shoes to protect the floors)
- There is a sound and light show every evening. I do not highly recommend it.
My two favorites things:
- I took my bottle of water and found a hill that looked over the entire complex. I was alone and it was quiet and still. A light breeze blew across the desert. I felt time in all its vastness. It was calm and I quietly reveled in that moment.
- I stood and stared at The Sphinx for a good 20 minutes. It is just incredible. I wondered who it was. I wondered what all it had seen. I was excited it was part lion. I was the High School mascot my senior year. I dressed like a lion just about every Friday during football season. I looked at him and it felt like he was looking at me. I was like, “I feel you, man. I feel you.” You should never forget where you came from, Y’all. Even when you are staring at The Sphinx in person, having a moment together.
Open Daily 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Giza Pyramids 120 ($6.70 USD)
Entry to inside the Great Pyramid 300 ($16.74 USD)
Entry to inside the 2nd or the 3rd Pyramid 60 ($3.35 UD)
Entry to the Solar Boat Museum at Giza Pyramids 80 ($4.47 USD)
Pyramids Sound and Light Show 150 ($8.37 USD)
Al Haram, Nazlet El-Semman
Giza Governorate, Egypt
Location: 29.97923, 31.1342