Visiting Pyramids in Cairo

We dedicated Day 2 to explore all the important Pyramids in Cairo. For this we had to arranged transport and a guide. Waleed is able to arrange this even though he is based in Aswan. We are supposed to be picked up at 7 am but there are issues with Cairo road withe the ongoing flood so we are finally only picked up at 9am. Waleed was very apologetic about this and waived us picked up transport in Aswan for free.

We started our Pyramid tour in Dahshur. There are 2 pyramids in Dahshur: The bent pyramid and the Red Pyramid.

Bent Pyramid of Dahshur

The Bent Pyramid at Dahshur was built during the end of 27th century BC by Sneferu, the father of Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is an important stepping stone in the development of pyramid construction. Sneferu built more than one pyramid at Dashur, but the Bent Pyramid was the first. This was the second attempt by Sneferu to build a smooth-sided true pyramid. It is believed that the first attempt, at Meidum in Fayoum, collapsed during construction. This second attempt was also plagued by engineering issues, although it was eventually completed. Sneferu’s builders were still learning and planned to built the huge structure with a steep inclination 54 degrees on each side. This proved unstable and caused them to abruptly change the plan in the middle of construction. The Bent Pyramid gets its name from the fact that the angle of its sides shifts suddenly about one-third of the way up from 54 degrees to the more gentle slope of 43 degrees. For this reason, the Bent Pyramid is considered a transitional pyramid, rather than a true pyramid

The Red Pyramid

After the completion of the Bent Pyramid, which also stand nearby in the Necropolis at Dahshur, Sneferu set out to correct the mistakes that were made in the construction of his that pyramid and the one at Meidum that collapsed during construction. The Red Pyramid, finished sometime at the beginning of the 26th century BC, was to be first successful attempt to construct a true pyramid, making it the most direct inspiration for the later 4th Dynasty pyramids at Giza. The squat appearance of this pyramid in comparison to other pyramids of comparable size is due to the fact that its sides are included at the relatively shallow angle of 43 degrees. After the engineering mistake that led to the ‘bend’ in the Bent Pyramid, Sneferu’s builders presumably decided to build this pyramid using the same angle of inclination that had allowed for the completion of the Bent Pyramid.

Our second Pyramid tour takes us to Sakkara and see the Pyramid of Djoser. Unlike Dahshur where the Pyramids just stand there on their own, in Saqqara the pyramid sits inside a complex

Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara is one of the most important archeological sites in all of Egypt. While it may not be as impressive or as famous as the Giza Pyramids, this structure predates them and it is vital to archeologists’ understanding of the development of pyramid construction. The Step Pyramid was built in the 27th century BC during the 3rd dynasty rule of Djoser. It is the first pyramid built in Egypt and while it is not a ‘true pyramid’ with smooth sides, like those at Giza and Dahshur, it remains an important stepping stone in their development. It is also the first large-scale cut-stone structure in the world. The structure consists of the six distinct layers, or steps, of diminishing size built on top of one another. Archeologists understand this to be an embellishment of earlier an earlier practice where pharaohs were buried under a mastaba, a flat rectangular structure somewhat like a large grave covering. Djoser’s builders decided to stack several of these structures to create a more imposing monument to the pharaoh, creating the structure we see today that stands 203 feet tall. In doing so, they took the first step toward the creation of the pyramids that have made Ancient Egypt famous throughout the ages.

We are hungry by the time we finish Saqqara so when we reached Giza we stopped to have lunch in Abu Shakra Restaurant where you can have your lunch with Pyramid view. It is one of those touristy restaurant but we are starving and our food (mixed grill) are actually pretty tasty so no complaints there.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is a defining symbol of Egypt and the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It is located on the Giza plateau near the modern city of Cairo and was built over a twenty-year period during the reign of the king Khufu (2589-2566 BCE, also known as Cheops) of the 4th Dynasty. Until the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France in 1889 CE, the Great Pyramid was the tallest structure made by human hands in the world; a record it held for over 3,000 years and one unlikely to be broken. Other scholars have pointed to the Lincoln Cathedral spire in England, built in 1300 CE, as the structure which finally surpassed the Great Pyramid in height but, still, the Egyptian monument held the title for an impressive span of time. The pyramid rises to a height of 479 feet (146 metres) with a base of 754 feet (230 metres) and is comprised of over two million blocks of stone. Some of these stones are of such immense size and weight (such as the granite slabs in the King’s Chamber) that the logistics of raising and positioning them so precisely seems an impossibility by modern standards.

There are total 6 Pyramids of Giza. 3 big Pyramids for the Kings and 3 smaller pyramids for the Queens. The Queen pyramids are so much smaller in size compare to the Kings which kinda tell you how women are perceived in those era.

From the pyramids it is a short drive to see the Sphinx.

The Great Sphinx of Giza is a giant 4,500-year-old limestone statue situated near the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt. Measuring 240 feet (73 meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high, the Great Sphinx is one of the world’s largest monuments. It is also one of the most recognizable relics of the ancient Egyptians, though the origins and history of the colossal structure are still debated. In ancient Egypt, the sphinx was a spiritual guardian and most often depicted as a male with a pharaoh headdress—as is the Great Sphinx—and figures of the creatures were often included in tomb and temple complexes.

We will later see the Sphinx Alley in Upper Egypt which is a 2km stretch avenue that connects the temples of Luxor and Karnak and is lined with sphinx statues.

Our Pyramid tour takes up one whole day and our guide made 2 stops for us to do obligatory stopping. One in Saqqara to see the Egyptian Carpet and in Giza to see the perfume stores. We could actually refuse but after seeing Cairo and see how people live poorly we thought there is no harm in going. We are not pushed to shop but we ended up doing few purchases because the quality is actually good and after all we do need souvenirs from Cairo as a token of memories.

I read there are a lot of hassles from people offering guides services and selling souvenirs. But as we come with a guide no one actually bothering us. There are people offering souvenirs but when we say No they back off. Giza Pyramid is very crowded. The best time to visit is either early in the morning when it opens or later in the afternoon as packaged tour usually go to Giza Pyramid in the morning and Egyptian Museum in the afternoon.

It is already dark as we come back to our Hotel. We originally plan to visit the museum at night. The museum open at night every Thursday and Sunday. But we are too tired and decided to visit the museum tomorrow.

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