Pyramids and Sphinx
Travel to Pyramids and Sphinx – Magnificent Icons of Egypt
The Pyramids are the only Wonder of the Ancient World still to remain intact and rarely if ever disappoint visitors who come to gaze, mouth agape at them. Their sheer size overwhelms, whilst their location on the Giza Plateau and on the very edge of the Western Desert only adds to their magnificent presence. The Sphinx lies a short distance away, increasingly eroded by the desert-blown sand and pollution it nevertheless remains, with the Pyramids, an instantly recognised icon of the country.
Over the centuries volumes have been written about the Pyramids proposing how and why they were constructed. Today we know that the Pyramids are vast funerary complexes built some 4,600 years ago by Pharaohs using paid labour during times when the Nile flood made farming of the riverbanks impossible.
What can’t be agreed on is exactly is how they were built or why they and certain aspects of their construction are aligned with particular stars. Visitors today are as the Greeks and Romans were, awestruck by them, craning their necks to see their summits or sitting on blocks of stone first edged into place 2,600 years before Christ was born.
There are more than a dozen pyramids in the Giza area, but the three great pyramids are the best preserved. The site comprises of the Pyramids themselves, the Sphinx and the Solar Barque Museum along with various small pyramids and tombs.
It is possible to enter the interior of each of the Pyramids though numbers are strictly controlled to a maximum of 300 people each day and this is one activity not for the claustrophobic. Be sure to include the Solar Barque Museum in your itinerary, a building which houses one of several cedar boats built to provide Pharaoh with transport in the afterlife and thought to be the oldest boat ever discovered.
The Sphinx with its clichéd enigmatic smile is thought to be a representation of Khufu, the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid. It is suffering from decay and unless the restorers find some way to stabilise the deterioration of the stone will only last a relatively few more years.
Allow a half-day to see the site which lies 40 minutes or so from downtown. A local guide and driver will add greatly to your enjoyment, taking you to viewpoints that would otherwise have to be traipsed to on foot, helping explain the latest theories as to construction techniques and even assisting in fending off the many touts and hustlers that patrol the area.
It’s not hard to get away from the crowds – stroll into the desert a few hundred yards and you’ll be by yourself. Alternatively admire the view from the shady garden of the Mina House Hotel with a cool drink.
It is possible to visit the Pyramids by taxi or by catching a bus/microbus to the site however you should allow longer if opting for this as you will have more walking to do. Those with only a day or two should seriously consider a driver and guide which as elsewhere in Egypt is generally excellent value for money.
- Your first glimpse of the Pyramids towering above the buildings of Giza is awe-inspiring and it only gets better as you head into the site
- Don’t miss the Solar Barque Museum – home to the world’s oldest boat
- Descend deep within the Pyramids for a unique if claustrophobic experience