Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx
The Miraculous Pyramids
The trip to the Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx seems like a magical wonder. The moment I set eyes on the Egyptian Pyramids, I was awestruck and in love with the sheer magnificence of the gravity-defying engineering of ancient times. Eyeing the pictures, I always imagined them far away in the desert. Surprisingly, we drove just 15 minutes from the hotel in Giza and landed at the pyramids through busy streets. Giza is a satellite city of Cairo.
Actually, I have been dreaming about the Pyramids since I read about them in school and the dream came true finally. Naturally, the excitement was palpable and I broke into goosebumps. Feeling blessed by the Pharaohs! Secondly, The sheer size makes you feel like an ant and when you look up the apex of the pyramid seems to be kissing the sky and it is also one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of ancient times.
Ancient Wonder of the World
The Great Pyramids of Giza are some of the most famous magical manmade wonders in the world, and they have been renowned since ancient times. In fact, the Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops) is the only last standing "Wonder of the Ancient World" that still survive. Almost all ancient civilizations built phenomenal structures across the planet, the Great Pyramid of Giza outshines nearly all of them.
However, If we had to replicate this miraculous masterpiece today, we would fail even though we have advanced architectural tools and technology. For instance, even Scholars have been unable to comprehend how such a precise monument could be erected thousands of years ago, without the use of modern tools and technologies.
Giza Pyramids Ticket Price
Tickets to the Pyramids
The Pyramids are open every day between 8 am and 5 am from October to March, and 7 am to 7 pm every day between April and September. General entrance tickets are 160 LE with additional tickets for the pyramids themselves. Carry cash as they will not accept credit cards. If you want to avoid the crowds then make an early visit as tourist buses only arrive after 10 am.
Inside the Pyramids
Shery, our guide, keeping in mind our age, forewarned us that getting inside the Great Pyramid or Khufu's is a 110 mt distance to be covered bent half. She suggested for Khafree's which was 55 mt and cost 100LE. All the pyramids are said to be similar inside. You can go inside one of the three pyramids of the Queens of Cheops without paying extra.
There is a panorama point to take pictures and if you do not have your vehicle then it is a long walk. It is advisable to hire a camel. Haggle with them. The camel men will ask you to click pictures with the camel. This is not for free. He will then ask you to cough up money. I had one vendor gifting me souvenirs for free and I knew there would be a catch, so I just ignored him. Even though people offer to take your picture, do not accept as that too calls for a payment.
My Gang of Adventurous Girls
The mummies were all moved to the Egyptian Museum and you will be viewing them there. After gawking open-mouthed at the pyramids for some time we ventured into the pyramid. I have a delicate back and yet I could not resist walking into history and standing where ancient Egyptians must have stepped into millennial ago.
Actually, all of us attempted to walk in but a few dropped out even after paying for the ticket. The narrow passage of about 3 feet width and wooden planks with slats was tough to walk on and claustrophobic. Later, while descending halfway there is a flat landing where you can take a breather before ascending to the enormous granite sarcophagus. Nevertheless, it was exciting as well as eerie to be in there. The caretaker took our pictures and we gave him some bakshish for the same. Our friends waiting outside cheered us as we stepped out into the sunlight after achieving a great feat.
Who, when and how were the pyramids built?
Starting with who built the pyramids; it is believed that the Great Pyramid was commissioned by Khufu, and to serve as a tomb over a 20year period concluding around 2560 BC The ancient name of the Pyramid's was Khufu's Horizon. Overall, the Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids, Khufu, the father, then next was Khafre, his son and third was his grandson, Menkaure. A smaller complex that contains 3 small pyramids were built for Khufu's wives.
The smaller queens pyramids
It took approximately 20 years to complete.The pyramids were built using limestone and granite, and mortar specialists have not been able to replicate the same.
Did you know that the Great Pyramid of Giza contains enough stone to make an almost 2ft high wall circumventing the earth!
Deserts are supposed to be really hot but the interior temperature is perpetually constant and equals the average temperature of the earth, 20 C Degrees (68 F Degrees)
The Pharaoh in Egypt was akin to God
The Kings in Egypt were revered akin to God in Egyptian society. Somewhere in between human and divine, they were likened to Gods to serve the people on earth. Therefore, the king's magnificence was kept intact even after his death. when he was believed to become Osiris, god of the dead. The new pharaoh, in turn, became Horus, the falcon-god who served as protector of the sun-god, Ra.
Not surprisingly the pyramid's eight smooth, angled sides symbolized the rays of the sun. They were formerly designed to help the king's soul ascend to heaven and join the gods, particularly the sun god Ra.
Taller than the Statue of Liberty
They built the great pyramids along the banks of the Nile River. Actually, the Egyptians built more than 80 pyramids. The tallest pyramid is 450 feet tall which is almost three times the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York which is only 190 feet tall. How pyramids were built is also a matter of some controversy.
Khafre, Khufu's son was very clever and chose the highest spot on the Giza plateau to build his monument. Regardless, of the size this gave his pyramid the illusion of being taller, whereas the Great Pyramid is in fact the taller of the Giza pyramids.
The Smallest of the Three Royal Pyramids at Giza, belongs to Menkaure, Khufu's grandson.
How to See the Sphinx?
While in Giza, the Sphinx is a must visit but keep it to the last as the exit is just after the Sphinx. It is like the guard for Pharaoh Khafre's pyramid. Admittedly, Napoleon Bonaparte visited the pyramids and when he came out he was flustered. The sphinx face was defaced; supposedly, the nose of this magnificent monument was blown off by a cannon fired by Napoleon Bonaparte. One can walk along the side entrance and onto the front to get a better view. But I preferred the side and posed as if I was feeding the Sphinx.
What to Wear at the Pyramids?
Suitable footwear if you're planning on going inside the pyramids. Naturally, it is more comfortable to wear trousers and a shirt instead of a billowing dress as it is quite windy outside and the passage inside is very narrow to walk down. Most important of all, wearing a hat, goggles and sunblock are recommended if you do not want to get sunburnt.
Sound and Light Shows at the Giza Pyramids
By Contrast, the pyramids of Giza offer a totally different experience at night, when lasers, lights, and visual projections bring ancient history to life. The voice over has the Sphinx as the narrator. The ticket is 200LE for the show for the 55 minute show. Summing up, it is not out of this world but it had our riveting attention the whole time. The pyramids are lit up by lasers in bright colours and the red and amber makes them look like flaming embers.
When to Go
Every night the sound and light show at the Giza pyramids is performed in English at 7 pm from October to April and at 7:30 pm May to September. Sometimes, depending on the number of tourists, there is a second or even third showing in another language-either Italian, Spanish, French, or German. We were there at the end of January and it was windy and freezing. Finally, we ended up in the coffee shop instead of sitting in the open. Layer up with warm clothes and a woollen scarf or cap to cover your ears and head.
Finally, let me ask you ; visiting the Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx was on top of my bucket list. Was it yours?
Do check my blogs on Egyptian Food, Food of the Pharaohs and Travel Tips to visit Egypt.