The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the most iconic structures in the history of architecture. The great pyramids are found on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo, Egypt, and were constructed over 4,500 years ago.
They served as tombs for Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure during ancient Egyptian times. Over 2 million tourists visit these great structures each year to learn about their history and marvel at their size.
However, many people who choose other destinations over this pyramid argue there’s nothing more to see but sand and a “simple structure.”
As much as we respect people’s opinions, we believe it is a matter of doing some research. The Great Pyramid of Giza and the location offer much more than just appreciating the great structure.
There are tourist activities people love, and you might find yourself charmed by what you could find. Besides, history is definitely a heavy point in the attraction.
We would definitely add it to our travel list, and if you consider it, you will get to know everything you need before traveling.
Inside History: Learning About Egypt’s History
In order to understand the history of the Great Pyramid, we need to cover the construction of Egyptian Pyramids overall since many of them were built during the same period.
Thus, this may be a bit confusing, but we will address them generally and then provide the focus to the Great Giza once this part of the history is clear.
The pyramids, especially the Great Pyramid of Giza, were built during an era when Egypt was the richest and most powerful country in the world and are considered some of the most impressive man-made structures ever created.
The pyramids’ size reflects the unique role of the pharaoh (or King) in ancient Egyptian society. Pyramids were built from the Old Kingdom’s beginning to the end of the Ptolemaic period, which was in the fourth century A.D.
The peak of pyramid building occurred with the third Dynasty and took all the way through the sixth (c. 2325 B.C.). The pyramids, which date back more than 4,500 years, still maintain much of their grandeur, giving a glimpse into Egypt’s rich, glorious past. Now, where do they start in history?
Egypt experienced great economic stability and prosperity during the Old Kingdom’s third and fourth dynasties. The unique position of kings in Egyptian society was unmatched and a great contributor to how things developed with the structures.
They were thought to be somewhere in the middle of divine and human and to have been chosen by gods to act as their mediators. It was, therefore, in everyone’s best interest to preserve the King’s power even after his death.
Osiris, the god of the dead, was then believed to be the former King at the time. In turn, the new pharaoh became Horus, the falcon god who protected the sun god Ra.
Ancient Egyptians believed that a part of the King’s spirit (known as “ka”) would remain with his body after his death. The corpse was mummified to ensure that his spirit was well cared for.
All the items the King would require in the afterlife, such as gold vessels, food, and furniture, were buried with him. The pyramids were the focal point of a cult after the death of his King. They would provide for him and his family and the officials, priests, and relatives who were buried nearby.
Going Over the Early Constructions
The Dynastic Era began in 2950 B.C. when royal tombs were carved in rock and covered with rectangular, flat-roofed structures called “mastabas,” which were precursors of the pyramids.
Around 2630 B.C., Egypt’s oldest pyramid was constructed. Saqqara was the home to the third Dynasty’s King Djoser and also known as the Step Pyramid.
It started as a traditional mastaba without many details, but it grew to be something more ambitious and grandeur.
According to legends, Imhotep was the pyramid’s architect. For those who don’t know, he was a priest and healer who would become the patron saint for scribes, and physicians, about 1,300 years later.
Six stepped layers of stone were built by the builders over the 20-year Djoser reign. It was the tallest building at the time, reaching 204 feet (62 meters) in height. Djoser spent his final days in paradise, surrounded by a series of courtyards, temples, and shrines.
Djoser adopted the stepped pyramid as the standard for royal burials. However, his dynastic descendants’ plans were never completed due to their short reigns.
The Red Pyramid at Dahshur was the first tomb to be constructed as a true (smooth-sided and not stepped) pyramid. It was one of three burial structures that Sneferu, the first king of the fourth Dynasty, built.
Named after the color of the limestone blocks that were used to build the core of the pyramid, it was also called the Red Pyramid at Dahshur.
But What About the Great Pyramid of Giza?
First, you must know people refer to “pyramids” and not one only. However, it is determined that the largest of the three built in the area is, of course, the actual Great Pyramid of Giza. With this in mind, we can continue with history.
The Great Pyramids of Giza are the most famous ones in the country but also worldwide. They are located on the west bank of the Nile River on the outskirts of Cairo.
Following our previous mention of the main pyramid, the Great Pyramid is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids. It is the last remaining structure of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek) built it in Greek, Sneferu’s successor and second of eight kings from the fourth Dynasty. Khufu ruled for 23 years (2589-2566 B.C.
Despite the time he was in power, little else is known about his reign beside the splendor of his pyramid.
Its original height was 481.4ft (147m), while the sides average 230 meters, making it the largest pyramid anywhere in the world.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is surrounded by small pyramids, one for each of Khufu’s queens, and nearby was a tomb containing the empty sarcophagus of his mother, Queen Hetepheres.
Khufu’s pyramid is like other pyramids. It is surrounded by rows of mastabas where the relatives and officials of the King were buried to support him in his afterlife.
The middle pyramid of Giza was constructed for Pharaoh Khafre’s son Khufu (2558-2532 B.C.). On the other hand, the Pyramid of Khafre contains the tomb of Pharaoh Khafre.
The Great Sphinx continues to be a unique feature within Khafre’s pyramid compound. It is a limestone guardian statue with the head and body of a man and a lion. It measured 240 feet in length and 66 feet in height.
The 18th Dynasty (c. 1500 B.C.) would see the Great Sphinx be worshipped as a local version of the god Horus.
Then, we have the southernmost pyramid of Giza (2532-2503 B.C.), which was built for Khafre’s son. It is the shortest pyramid and a precursor to the smaller pyramids which would be built during the fifth and sixth dynasties.
So, for the main topic of our destination, despite being able to find all of them, the Great Pyramid of Giza is always attributed to Khufu. During your visit, you will get to learn a lot about this pharaoh.
Visiting the Pyramids: Is It Worth Your Money?
Is it actually more than just sand and majestic structures? You bet.
It is true that history is often the main reason why people decide to visit the place, especially if they are in love with mommies or the usual Egyptian culture and discoveries whenever you take the time to study some information.
Ancient treasures, golden sand beaches, natural therapies, and uncountable beauties and amazing things to do. This and more is what makes your trip worth the money and time in the end.
Since the Great Pyramid of Giza was built centuries ago, you can learn a lot about civilization and architecture. The Egyptian civilization is considered one of the oldest ancient ones in the world, and you can expect to find something new every corner you visit.
With the longest river and the pyramid being the only remaining ancient wonder of the world, you will find the experience fascinating and one in a lifetime.
Overall, the pyramid does offer you the basics you would expect, but people don’t go to a place to enjoy one location alone.
You can find many attractions and tourist places as Egypt and this area in specific, are part of the most visited every year.
On our side, we would definitely go for the history only and see how good the waves and ocean are in the area despite, well, what we all pretty much know about the country.
What to Do: Visiting the Great Giza but Going for More
As we mentioned earlier, it isn’t only about going to the pyramid. You’ve got many more attractions and activities to do. It is only a matter of doing some research before your visit.
Helping you a little bit, we have compiled some options, places. Activities and tourism you can bet for during your visit.
To start, it is only natural to go for the tour of the Great Pyramids of Giza and enjoy what is inside them.
Tourists can enter all three of the pyramids for a fee set in the place, but some tour guides offer the option to pay it for you when you hire their services.
It is natural to find some people around the pyramids from a very specific distance where most of them gather to offer camels and other transportation options to get closer to the pyramids.
It is clear you cannot miss the main attraction, but once you have met the quote, where can you go?
The Solar Boat Museum is a good option that stores and exhibited boats found during excavations on the south and east sides of the Pyramid of Cheops.
The Eastern Cemetery is a Magnifique structure where you can learn more about the daughter of Pharaohs and wives. There’s also a Western Cemetery you can visit.
The Sphinx is probably the most attractive attraction besides the Great Pyramid since it is a stunning monument that stands out because of its shape. We doubt it needs any introduction, but you must not know that it is built-in granite by making shape and finely structures.
With the head of a pharaoh, while wearing the royal head-cloth and cobra, the recumbent lion shape is always breathtaking.
Finally, allow us to list some activities we would definitely include in our plans and help you have the entire idea of what you cannot miss:
- Camel rides at the pyramids.
- Enjoy the pyramids’ sound and light shows.
- Get to know more about the Great Pyramid of Giza as the only surviving wonder of the ancient world.
- Choose between luxury, mid-range, or cheap hotels. Marriott Mena House in Cairo is one of the most popular among royalty and celebrities.
- Full-day and half-day tours are available and include a complete experience with the Giza
- Pyramids, Sphinx, and Memphis.
- A private tour of the Great Pyramid of Giza is a must.
- Visit the Nile! Don’t miss it.
Movies Shot: Big Scenario for Hollywood
We believe you have watched at least one of the films shot in the entire area and not only in the Great Pyramid of Giza alone. You see, there are many more than you might think.
Since history surrounds Egypt as an ancient place, movie directors base their plots around them. So, it is only natural to set the pyramids and surroundings as part of the main or secondary scenarios.
“The Mummy” from 1999 is one of the most popular today, and we have to admit we have watched it over ten times to this date.
Others like “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) is a 007 James Bond film quite popular back in the day and continues to be a classic.
The sequel of our first mention, “The Mummy Returns,” was also filmed in the location in 2001.
“Cairo Time” (2009), “The Sphinx” (1981), and many documentaries covering the structures and beauty of the country have been filmed over the years.
One of the most recent movies is a “remake” of “The Mummy” to set a new franchise. It stars Tom Cruise and follows the same name, but it was released in 2017.
6 Historical Facts About the Great Pyramid of Giza
- The pyramid required 2.5 million stone blocks, which were cut, moved, and positioned to set the structure. Some are limestone, while others are granite ones.
- The Great Pyramid of Giza, along with the pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre (which join in setting the Great Pyramids), are aligned with the constellation of Orion.
- Although they look sandy and damaged, the pyramid looked polished in the beginning.
- A German conspiracy by Stefan Erdmann and Dominique Goerlitz believe the people of Atlantis built the pyramids.
- Despite the previous fact, the most common theory is that Egyptians built the pyramids as an act of civil service.
- This isn’t historical, but you would love to know it is easy to visit the Great Pyramid of Giza and all the surroundings with any travel agency.
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