CAIRO — Giza

Giza was once a small village but is now part of the greater metropolis of Cairo and is located about 10 miles west. It is noisy, dusty, smelly and overcrowded but people from all over the world come to Giza to visit some of the world’s most famous monuments. These are of course The Pyramids and The Sphinx.

The Pyramids

The Pyramids
The Pyramids are the world’s oldest tourist attraction as they are the only survivors of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. They were built as tombs for the Pharaohs on their journey to the afterlife. You will find three main pyramids here. The largest and oldest is the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops) and it stands on the northern edge of the Giza Plateau. When the Great Pyramid was built it was thought to be around 146 metres (480 feet) high and was the tallest man-made structure for thousands of years. It has worn down over time and it still continues to erode. The Great Pyramid was once covered with limestone that was painted a bright red colour. The sides of the Great Pyramid are carefully positioned to point north, south, east, and west. The base of the pyramid has sides that measure around 230 metres (755 feet) in length. It was designed so accurately that the error margin between the sides is less than 1 percent. The Great Pyramid is made up of approximately two million blocks of limestone, each weighing more than two tons. It was built for the Pharaoh Khufu and once held his body.

The second pyramid was built for the Pharaoh Khafre. This pyramid is three metres shorter than Khufu’s and stands on the northern side of the Giza Plateau. The top of the pyramid has some limestone left with a white cap on top which you can still see.

The third pyramid is known as the pyramid of Menkaure and is the smallest of the three pyramids being only 66 metres high. It is not as detailed as the other two pyramids. It was finished by Shepseskaf, the son of Menkaure, after he died.

There are many other structures on the Giza Plateau along with the pyramids including, boat pits; queen’s pyramids; mortuary temples; valley temples as well as the famous Sphinx.

Traveller's Tip

There are a lot of people trying to sell you things at the pyramids so just be aware that there is nothing for free and ignore anyone who approaches you unless you want to buy something.
The Sphinx

The Sphinx
The Sphinx was carved out of a single mass of stone 240 feet (73 metres) long and 66 feet (20 metres) high. The head which is of a different texture to the body and is less eroded was made from a naturally occurring outcrop of harder stone. It was believed that the Sphnix was constructed in the 4th Dynasty by the Pharaoh Chephren (Khafre), but there is growing evidence, both archaeological and geological, that indicates that the Sphinx is far older than the 4th Dynasty, and was only restored by Chephren during his reign. It has no markings on it to date it. Do not be surprised when you visit to see scaffolding somewhere, as there is a lot of reconstruction work being carried out on the Sphinx. Pollution in the surrounding areas of the Giza plateau as well as increased humidity and water seepage has probably contributed to the deterioration over time to the Sphinx and this has caused a lot of concern. In ancient times the Sphinx would have been brightly coloured and evidence of this can still be seen on the side of its face. You can attend a rather ‘cheesy’ Sound and Light show every evening with the Sphinx acting as narrator.

Traveller's Tip

If you take a camel ride negotiate the price before you get on and be aware that some of the camel owners may ask you for more money when you are a long distance from where you started.