June 2, 2012
Giza (famous due to its Pyramids) is located only a few kilometers south of Cairo, several hundred meters from the last residential area in the southern tip of the city proper, where a limestone cliff rises abruptly from the other side of a sandy desert plateau.Most of the rooms of the hotel we stayed in overlooks the Giza plateau. On a fine clear morning, one can see the pyramids from the hotel balcony.
In barely ten minutes our motor coach was able to reach the parking area near the plateau where we needed to walk a few hundred meters to be able to get the best vantage point for photos.
The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt were built as tombs for Kings and Queens, and it was the exclusive privilege to have a Pyramid tomb. However, this tradition only applied in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Today there are more than 93 Pyramids in Egypt; the most famous ones are those here at Giza.
Egypt’s pharaohs aim to become gods in the afterlife. In order to prepare for the next world they built temples to the gods and massive pyramid tombs for themselves—filled with all the things each ruler would need to guide and sustain himself in the next world.There are three pyramids at the Giza plateau, each of which once had an adjoining mortuary temple.
Though the three Great Pyramids are the most famous and prominent monuments at Giza, the site has actually been a Necropolis almost since the beginning of Pharaonic Egypt.
The ‘great’ pyramid itself is truly an astonishing work of engineering skill – for over four thousands years, until the modern era, it was the tallest building in the world.
It was the 4th Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) who placed Giza forever at the heart of funerary devotion, a city of the dead that dwarfed the cities of the living nearby. In order to build his complex, he had to clear away many of the old tombs, filling in their shafts or even totally destroying them. His pyramid, the largest of all the pyramids in Egypt, dominates the sandy plain.The Great Pyramid of Khufu:
The Great Pyramid of Khufu is by far the most famous Pyramid in Egypt, the biggest, tallest, and most intact. After its construction it became one of the “Seven Wonders Of The World”, and today, it is the only one of them remaining. For a period of 4300 years, the Pyramid was also the tallest building on earth, until the French built the Eiffel Tower in 1889 to take that accolade.
It was the first pyramid constructed on the plateau and many consider that it represents the pinnacle of the pyramid age. This pyramid contains ascending chambers and passageways not found in any other pyramids.
The Pyramid of Khafre:
Khafre was a son of Khufu and his is the second largest known pyramid in Egypt, only approximately 10 meters shorter that the Great Pyramid. Remnants of its original casing are still apparent at the top of the structure. Khafre’s Pyramid, is easily recognisable by the layers of its original casing stones that still remain near its summit and this, along with the fact that it actually stands on a higher part of the plateau, gives the impression that it is taller than the Great Pyramid.The Pyramid of Menkaure:
Khafre’s son, Menkaure, built the smallest of the 3 main Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. Although much smaller than the other two pyramids on the plateau, the lower edifices were originally encased in granite. It has three subsidiary pyramids and some of its Mortuary temple remains intact.
It is believed that this Pyramid was altered during its construction, and made a lot bigger than originally planned. The original, smaller Pyramid had a simple descending corridor and burial chamber, but when it was enlarged, a new corridor was built with 3 portcullises and a small panelled chamber. Much later, another burial chamber, along with a storeroom were added at a lower level. This Pyramid, like its 2 neighbours, has a north facing entrance.
The Great Sphinx:
The Great Sphinx is a large human-headed lion that was carved from a mound of natural rock. It is located in Giza where it guards the front of Khafra’s pyramid. Crafted from soft sandstone, many believe that it would have disappeared long ago had it not been buried in the sand for so many long periods in its letime.
The famous Sphinx of Egypt is a sight to behold. This colossal statue is carved out of the very bedrock in which it sits.
Legends have been told for many years about the Great Sphinx. These stories tell about the powers and mysteries of this sphinx. Some people even believe that there are hidden passageways or rooms underneath the Great Sphinx, but nothing has been found yet.
The beginning of one story about the Great Sphinx is written on a stele between the sphinx’s paws.
The story reads that one day, a young prince fell asleep next to the Great Sphinx. He had been hunting all day, and was very tired. He dreamt that the Great Sphinx promised that he would become the ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt if he cleared away the sand covering its body . The Great Sphinx was covered up to its neck.
Der Manuelian, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University Egyptologist, heads the Giza Archives Project, an enormous collection of Giza photographs, drawings, manuscripts, and expedition diaries that enables virtual visits to the plateau. He however emphasizes that nothing could ever replace, the experience of a personal visit to Giza.
Below are more pictures of our visit to the Giza plateau. On a cooler month, it would be nice to walk around or even go inside one of the pyramids. There are additional entrance fees though when you go inside the Pyramids but according to our guide, there is nothing much inside due to lootings through the years.Note: MBM Classic Travel will once again include Egypt in its Classical Gems of Egypt, Israel and Jordan popular tour package this coming September and November. For inquiries pleaase email: travel email@example.com