For many, Egypt is one of the dream travel destinations. We've all listened and read since childhood about the ancient state of the pharaohs and the monumental pyramids that served as tombs. However, when asked about specific places that we would like to visit in Egypt, we often do not know what to say. Where is the best place to find examples of Egyptian civilization that counts for several millennia? Less than 35 km from Cairo, Sakkara is ideal. The local cemetery of the pharaohs and its buildings and artifacts are unique on a global scale.
Sakkara is a vast ancient necropolis that served as the cemetery for the then capital of Egypt, Memphis. From the time of the First Dynasty (around 3200 B.C.), until the first centuries after Christ, Egyptian kings, state dignitaries and other important people in the state were buried there. Many of the pyramids formed in this way have survived - in varying conditions - to this day, which makes Sakkara a popular destination not only for tourist trips, but also for archeological expeditions. The very name "Sakkara" comes from the necropolis god Sokar, a half-man, half-falcon.
When in Sakkara, it's worth visiting the Imhotep Museum at the start of your tour. The building stands on the edge of the desert and arable fields. The monuments collected here come from excavations at the necropolis and provide an excellent introduction to visiting the rest of the sights.
The most famous monument found in the Sakkara complex is undoubtedly the Pyramid of Djoser. This is the oldest pyramid in Egypt. It was built during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser around 2650 B.C. Historians unanimously recognize the Djoser Pyramid as the world's first known complex of buildings built entirely of hewn stone. The pyramid itself, having the form of a mastaba - a stepped pyramid - is divided into six segments in the shape of chamber tombs. In the immediate vicinity of the pyramid, the court architect of Djoser, Imhotep, created an area that was almost a town for the needs of the ruler, surrounded by a thick wall about 10 m high. The pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser was 62m high at the time of its creation, today it is slightly less, about 60m Still, it makes a huge impression.
The tomb complex in Sakkara, entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, consists of several dozen mastabs and pyramids, preserved in various states. Apart from Djoser's pyramid, the most interesting are animal tombs, such as Serapeum - the tomb of Saint Bull Apis. You can find mummies of bulls that were buried in huge stone sarcophagi. A little north of this building is the cemetery of mummified animals, including ibises and baboons.
The pyramid of Unas is extremely important for Egyptian history researchers. Inside, hieroglyphic inscriptions called "Texts of the Pyramids" were found, which, today are considered a classic historical source for Egyptologists. This is a collection of ancient Egyptian religious texts: spells, hymns, myths that were found on the walls of corridors and burial chambers. During its heyday, the Unas pyramid measured almost 42 m, but today it is only 19m, which makes it the smallest of the pyramids in Sakkara.
Opposite the Unas pyramid you can find another interesting monument. These are the ruins of the Coptic monastery of St. Jeremiah, which was built in Sakkara between the 3rd and the 7th century. Although the monastery itself was destroyed in the 10th century, exhibits from here can be admired at the Coptic Museum in Cairo. It is worth a look there if you are interested in the history of Christianity in Egypt - the collections of this institution are really impressive.
We also recommend visiting the tombs of Mereruka and Kagemni. These are two very well preserved mastabs located northeast of Djoser's pyramid. They served as the tomb of Vizier Teti, ruler of the 6th dynasty. They stand out from the others by their beautiful carvings that present the everyday life of the Egyptian elite - dancing, gardening and hunting. Equally interesting when it comes to looking at the society of the world of the pharaoh period, is Mastab of Ankhmahor, located next to Kagemni, also called the tomb of doctors. You can admire scenes from the everyday life of craftsmen, doctors, blacksmiths and jewellers.
Sakkara is an extremely important place for Egyptian culture & history. So if you really want to get to know Egypt, you must visit Sakkara!
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