The pyramids were erected on the plateau in Giza and once stood proud in the desert, getting to them was a great adventure. Today, they tower over the compact buildings adjacent to the eastern part of the necropolis. The location for their construction was chosen by the rulers of the 4th dynasty (XXVII - XXVI centuries BC). The famous buildings are best viewed from the vantage point, southwest of the pyramids. In good weather and with the right wind blowing from the desert, you can also see the pyramids of Saqqara and Abusir. You’ll be able to visit them as part of our 8-day Egypt Tour.
Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops)
Stunning, greatest, controversial - these are just a few epithets that describe the Great Pyramid of Giza, belonging to the pharaoh Cheops (2604-2581 BC), the first of the ancient wonders of the world. Once upon a time the pyramid shone from afar, because the smooth white limestone walls reflected the sunlight. Unfortunately, the limestone veneer was looted and used to build new buildings in the city. However, it is not known what happened to the pyramidion - the pyramid crowning the building.
The original entrance to the pyramid is in its north wall. The holes that are currently used for this function were made on the orders of the Caliph Al Mamun (813-833), who wanted to find the local treasures. However, they were stolen in antiquity.
To enter the Great Pyramid, you have to climb huge stone blocks. The next step is the tunnel that goes up. After 40 meters you reach the Grand Gallery. The room is a marvel of Egyptian architecture. The stepped vault weighs hundreds of tons. Along the walls, at the bottom, there are ramps with 54 holes at regular distances, 27 on each side. Probably wooden piles were inserted into them, on which the royal sarcophagus was transported.
From the Grand Gallery you can then go to the King's Chamber, which is Cheops' burial chamber. Its interior is raw and simple. For the pharaohs from the Old Kingdom, the monumentalism of the building and the symbolism of its individual elements were the most important thing.
The walls of Cheops' burial chamber were made of large blocks, the total weight of which exceeds 400 tons. The sarcophagus of the ruler was also made of granite. Interestingly, the sarcophagus is a few millimeters wider than the entrance to the King's Chamber. So how was he drawn inside? It remains a mystery.
On the right side of the exit from the Cheops pyramid, there are three small pyramids, the so-called satellite. The first on the left belonged to Cheops's mother. Its extensive funerary equipment is on display in the Egyptian Museum. The other two were built for the wives of Pharaoh Cheops. On the east and west sides of the Cheops pyramid there are mastab fields (cuboid-shaped tombs). They are the resting place of members of the royal family, high dignitaries and officials.
Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)
The Pyramid of Khafre (2572-2546 BC) draws attention from the very first moment - its tip is still covered with a limestone veneer. At first it seems taller than its predecessor, the Great Pyramid. It is only an illusion. In fact, it is several meters lower, but it was built on a small hill.
The entrance to the pyramid is on the north wall. A tutel leads to the burial chamber, carved almost entirely in the rock. The ceiling of the chamber is made of limestone slabs and has the shape of a tent. In the floor you can see a depression in which there is a granite sarcophagus that was once very large but is now shattered. The walls are devoid of ornaments and inscriptions. The only inscription in the chamber was made on March 2nd 1818 by the Italian Giovanni Belzoni, who was the first modern researcher to visit the interior of the pyramid and decided to celebrate this moment.
A mortuary temple adjoins the eastern wall of the pyramid. Rituals were performed there to help the pharaoh in his resurrection, and sacrifices were made to the gods.
Pyramid of Menkaure (Mykerinos)
The Mykerinos Pyramid (2539-2511 BC), the smallest of the royal buildings in Giza, was also the least lucky. Her beautiful veneer of pink Aswan grant was liked by Muhammad Ali (1769-1849), who decided to use it to build an arsenal in Alexandria. Seven centuries earlier, one of Sultan Saladin's sons, wanting to find the entrance to the pyramid, made a hole in its wall. The British officer Howard Vyse (1784-1853) enlarged the opening. Only the latter managed to find the entrance to the pyramid (slightly below the tear). A granite sarcophagus decorated with the motif of the palace facade was found in the burial chamber. Unfortunately, the ship that carried him sank during his transportation to Great Britain.
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