- Location: Giza Necropolis, Cairo, Egypt
- Best Time to Visit: Visit Egypt in winter, since the summers are extremely hot and you will have lots of walking to do.
- Best Time to visit the Pyramids in Giza: Between 8:00 — 12:00 in the morning Between 15:00 — 17:00 in the afternoon
- How To Reach: Take a taxi from Cairo. You can also use the public transport in the form of a micro or mini bus. Air condition buses are also available. Walk around Giza, or ride a horse or a camel.
- Entry Tickets (all rates in Egyptian pounds):
- Giza Plateau: 50.00
- Pyramid of Khufu: 100.00
- Pyramid of Khafre: 25.00
- Pyramid of Menkaure: 40.00
- Sound and Light Show: 60.00
- Nearest International Airport: Cairo International Airport
It is not just about dimensions! It is something much more profound! It is the mystery, the sublime sadness and a strange unexplained yearning for a past that make the Great Pyramid of Giza such a popular tourist destination. As you stand on the edge of the Giza Necropolis, the Great Pyramid looming up to the horizon, substantially dwarfing other similar constructions at a short distance, you are bound to be taken by a strange sensation. You understand that probably the earliest consciousness of human being was of his own transience — nothing lasts forever. Even the mightiest of monarchs, incarnate gods to their subjects, worshipped, revered, feared, had an impending sense of transience that haunted them. What else could have prompted them to construct such unbelievable monuments, and what else could justify such ambition. Within minutes, this thought makes way for something else. You are struck by awe at the very excellence of the mathematical, engineering, geometric, architectural, and with a little background study, the astronomical knowledge of the ancient Egypt. It was, in a sense, the cradle of human civilization and had a lasting impact on all subsequent developments.
History of the Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid at Giza was built with rigorous hard work over a period of 20 years, and concluded in 2560 BC under the supervision of the Fourth Dynasty Egypian King Khufu. Originally, this magnificent structure stood over 480 feet tall. After falling prey to erosion for thousands of years, that have eroded much of the glazed casement that covered it, it is presently 455 feet tall, with a volume of roughly 2,500,000 cubic meters. It is still the tallest man made structure in the world and can be seen from the moon. At the time of its construction, it could be viewed from all mountain tops of Israel.
Things to see at the Great Pyramid of Giza
The interior of the Great Pyramid of Giza is as intriguing as its grand exterior. However, you’re advised to use your judgment if you are claustrophobic — the passages are very narrow. Moreover, the steps are steep and you may end up with a knee-ache. However, if you are up to it, do not lose a chance to do it. Even at the time of its construction, the Great Pyramid was revered as a structure unique in its own right. It contained both ascending and descending chambers, a feature not found in any other Pyramid. The interior was engineered in such a way that a steady temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit, equal to the temperature of the earth’s interior was maintained. The interior of the Pyramid is a fascinating construction and has three main chambers. Of paramount importance in the King’s Chamber, which is the main chamber that you reach after walking through an elaborate entry way. The chamber is constructed in accordance to strict geometric rules that keep the Golden Ratio or phi in the reckoning. This sarcophagus was carved out of a single piece of Red Aswan granite. The sarcophagus in itself is very small, too small to accommodate a human body. This is not found in any other Egyptian pyramid. Egyptologists assume that this was probably used for ceremonial purposes and was meant for the spirit of the King to rise and reach out to heaven.
Similarly mysterious is the Queen’s chamber, which is right at the middle of the Great Pyramid of Giza and is also the smallest chamber. The name is a misnomer, as the Queen was not really interred there, but in other smaller pyramids built around the Great Pyramid. It has an eastern doorway aligned to the Sun, the presiding deity of Egyptian region, and is led to by a niche, which probably supported a statue of the deceased. This chamber has been a great source of mystery for historians. Robotic intervention initiated by later researchers discovered the presence of two shafts, similar to what was found in the King’s chamber. They were blocked by two limestone doors that had copper handles which has eroded over time. National Geographic undertook an ambitious and somewhat controversial project of drilling through the door. Nothing was found though, except the presence of another larger door behind it.
The original burial was probably supposed to take place in a roughly hewn unfinished chamber at the lower level of the pyramid. The King may have changed his mind in the middle of the constructed and wanted himself to be buried at a higher plain, closer to heaven, presumably.
The Pyramid Complex of Giza has some other significant structures, most importantly two mortuary temples, both dedicated to Khufu — the god king. There are three smaller pyramids, devoted probably to Khufu’s queens. Other constructions include pyramids and tombs for noblemen. To the southwest of the Great Pyramid of Giza lie the Pyramid of Khafre, the builder of the Great Sphinx and a successor to Khufu. His successor Menkaure also built a Pyramid to name. It is a few hundred meters further to the southwest.
There are a number of tour operators in Cairo who operate great conducted tours to the Great Pyramid of Giza. However, they are no more authorized to issue tickets for visitors to the Pyramid. You have to reach the site and buy entry tickets on your own. There is a catch there too! Only 150 visitors are allowed in the morning and 150 more in the afternoon. So the trick is to be there as early as possible. The ticket office opens at 8:30 in the morning. Moreover, at least one of the three chambers are always shut for visitors, for the purpose of renovation and maintenance. Even if you are extremely enthusiastic, do not try to visit all the monuments in the Giza valley. Many are nothing more than mere mounds and the visit may not be worth it, after all. Try to spend as much time as possible at the more important and significant ones. A travel guide can be of great help.
The Necropolis complex, where the Great Pyarmid of Giza is located is only a few hundred meters from the city center of Cairo. The easiest and the most convenient way to reach Giza is to hire a taxi, but you can also avail the micro buses that ply quite regularly between the city and the site. An air condition bus also leaves regularly form Madrin Tahir. For getting around the Pyramids, you can walk, hire a horse, or what is really special, ride a camel. However, a camel ride may need some haggling before you actually ride on one. You can approach one of the Antiquity policemen for help if you feel pestered. And remember, agree on the price before you become over-enthusiastic and begin to photograph the camel! However, at any cost, ride a camel. It is an experience you will not be able to get anywhere else. It is unique in the truest sense!
The Light and Sound Show at the Great Pyramid of Giza
There is a light and sound show held for tourists around the Great Sphinx. Do not lose a chance to experience it, even if you think it to be too touristy for you. Even if you know a lot about the Pyramids and Egyptian history, the light and sound show will provide you with great entertainment. Climbing the walls of the Great Pyramid of Giza has been stopped from 1980. Do not try to climb it at night as some tourists have attempted to do before! The thrill is understood, but the commitment to preserve one of the greatest constructions of humankind is a much higher call.
There are hotels in Cairo that cater to travelers from all budget ranges. Some of the most popular ones are Mena House Oberoi, Grand Hyatt, Four Seasons, Cairo Marriott Hotel, Hotel Osiris and InterContinental. There are many mid-range and budget hotels as well. You will also find a number of great restaurants in Cairo. They all serve delicious food in a wonderful ambience. You will get your favorite dishes, and can also check out on some local delicacies. Andrea, Cortigiano, Rossini, Kandahar and Chili’s are some of the most popular ones.