Great Egyptian pyramids in Giza
Archaeologists have found in Egypt already 118 pyramids, but only three of them are proudly called "Great." They are in the necropolis on the Giza plateau near the city of the same name. About them will be discussed in this review.
Complex of pyramids in Giza
These pyramids served as tombs for the three pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty of the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt - Cheops, Chephren and Mikerin. They ruled around 2600 to 2480 BC.
We know little about these rulers themselves, most of the information has come down to us from the Greek historian Herodotus and the Egyptian Manetho. And the names of the rulers are also Greek, and in Egypt they were called Khufu, Khafra and Menkaure.
Of course, the Giza necropolis consists not only of pyramids. Around each of the three tombs is a whole funerary complex, consisting of many objects.
Among the secondary structures, tourists notice first of all the "pyramids of queens". Near the pyramids of Cheops and Mikerin there are three of them, and next to the pyramid of Khafre there is only one. The first archaeologists who investigated the necropolis of Giza, believed that in these small pyramids the wives of rulers were buried, hence the name. Later, scientists realized that there could be wives and sisters and daughters of Pharaoh, but the name remained.
Next to each pyramid is a memorial temple, designed to serve the cult of the dead Pharaoh, for after the death the ruler deified. Priests served in these memorial temples, they did not let everybody in here. All three memorial temples have survived to our time, but in varying degrees of preservation.
For public prayers were intended other structures, called "valley temples". Of the three such temples, only two are now preserved - Khafre and Mikerin, and the temple of Cheops now lies under the neighboring village of Nazlet El Samman.
Around the pyramids, you can also find "boat pits" - special underground structures, where the boats of the pharaohs were disassembled. There are five pyramids of Cheops and Chefren, and no one has been found at the Pyramid of the Micherine. Two "boat pits" have not even been opened by archaeologists.
In the east of the pyramid of Chephren, near his "valley temple" stands the gigantic figure of the Great Sphinx, famous as much as the pyramids themselves.
In addition to these structures, several dozen other tombs have been found on the Giza plateau. Moreover, archaeological excavations are still underway, and archaeologists find something new and interesting every year.
The size of the necropolis is about 1.5 by 1.5 kilometers. In the west of the Khafre pyramid there is another area of archaeological excavation that is not part of the necropolis, but is very interesting for historians. This is the "village of workers", where the builders of the pyramids lived. The word "village" is called conditionally, because here lived up to 30 000 people, it was a big enough city for that era.
Where is the Giza Necropolis
If you ask guides or simple Egyptians about it, opinions will be divided. Some say that the pyramids are in the city of Giza, and others that are in the city of Cairo, since Giza became part of Cairo. Who is right? In fact, everyone is right, and now we will explain why.
In Russian, the word "Cairo" refers to just three geographical objects. The first is the city of Cairo. Giza and Cairo are two different cities on the left and right banks of the Nile.
The second is the governorate (province) "Cairo", which is also on the right bank of the Nile and includes the city of Cairo and its surroundings.
The third is the urban agglomeration "Cairo", which includes the cities of Cairo, Giza, Shubra el-Heima, the city of. October 6, Heliopolis and a few dozen smaller cities.
English-speaking tourists are somewhat simpler, in English these geographical objects are divided. The city is called "Cairo City", the province is "Cairo Governorate", the agglomeration is "Greater Cairo". But in Russian all these objects are called "Cairo", hence the different opinions about finding the Giza plateau.
So. Necropolis of Giza is located in the city of Giza in the agglomeration "Cairo", the province of El-Giza, Egypt.
How to get there
If you go on an organized excursion to the sights of Cairo , then you will be brought here by sightseeing bus.
If you come to Cairo on your own, then it's best to take a taxi. The total cost of the trip will depend on the distance, and although the taxi in Egypt is cheap, the trip can "fly in a pretty penny."
You can save by using the metro Cairo and get to the station "Giza" on the second (orange) branch. From the station to the plateau of Giza about 10 kilometers, the trip will cost about 15-20 Egyptian pounds , if you go by the counter.
Theoretically, you can get from the metro station to the Giza plateau by buses 900 and 997, for tourists buses are considered not safe. It is better to take a taxi, as it is inexpensive and safe.
What's the cover charge
Entrance to the territory of the necropolis of Giza - 80 pounds. On this ticket you can walk here at least a whole day everywhere, except a few places.
The entrance to the Cheops pyramid costs an additional 100 pounds, another 40 pounds is needed to enter the pyramid of Khafre and the Museum of the Solar Rook - another 60 pounds.
For participants of organized excursions, the tour price includes only entrance tickets, visiting the interior of the pyramids and the museum is paid separately.
The entrance ticket can be bought at the ticket office at the northeast entrance to the necropolis of Giza. The ticket must be kept all the time you stay on the plateau, it will be needed in some cases.
From 8 am to 5 pm. In the winter - from 8-00 to 16-30. During the month of Ramadan - from 8-00 to 15-00.
How much time to plan
If you want to see all the interesting things on the territory, then spend the whole day. If you want only to bypass the pyramids, take a picture and look at the Sphinx, then a couple of hours is enough.
Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu)
The largest Egyptian pyramid ever built. The height is 139 meters, the length of the bases is 230 meters, the angle of inclination of the faces is 51.5 degrees. The total volume of 2 583 000 cubic meters, it is composed of 2.3 million stone blocks, the total mass of which is almost 6 million tons. In ancient times, its height reached 146.5 meters, and the stones were stacked in 210 levels (now only 201 levels remained).
Of course, the figures are amazing, given that it was built 4,600 years ago. However, some historians are of the opinion that in the center of the pyramid is a mountain, which fills up to 50% of the volume of the structure. That is, the ancient Egyptians simply laid stones on the mountain, which greatly simplified their task.
Pyramid of Cheops is often confused with a neighbor - the pyramid of Khafre, which is located on a hillock 9 meters high in the center of the plateau. The photo on the right shows the three pyramids of Giza and the names.
Climbing the pyramids to the very top is strictly prohibited. To do this, you need to get a special permit from the Antiquities Service of Egypt. However, tourists climb to 3 or 4 tiers up, the security does not react at all.
The strongest impressions tourists get, standing next to the blocks. At the lower level, they reach the height of human growth. Tourists think: "How did the Egyptians drag these blocks up to the upper tiers of the structure?"
In fact, the size of the blocks decreases with each level up. In the lower layer, the dimensions of the blocks are 1.5x1.5x1.5 meters and the weight is up to 10 tons. At the upper levels, blocks are approximately 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 meters in size and weight of 1-1.5 tons.
In ancient times, the pyramid of Cheops looked completely different. It was completely lined with beautiful white limestone from the Tour region, which is located 20 kilometers east of Giza through the Nile River.
This cladding was constantly dragged to the building materials, and now it does not remain at all on the surface of the Cheops pyramid. From this white limestone all the ancient mosques of Cairo are built.
Read more in our main article " Pyramid of Cheops ".
Pyramid of Khafre (Khafra)
The second largest pyramid in Giza has a height of 136.5 meters, the height in antiquity - 143.5 meters. The length of the base is 215 meters, the total volume is 2.2 million cubic meters.
The main feature of this pyramid is that at its top there is a cladding, although a bit. Looking at the top, you can try to imagine what the necropolis of Giza looked like in ancient times, as the pyramids shone in the sun.
The two lower levels (up to 3 meters high) were lined with red granite from Aswan . It was considered a real luxury.
The second interesting moment for tourists - the memorial temple at the pyramid of Khafre very well preserved. In ancient times, this temple was covered with sand, and dug it only in 1853. It was here that we found several statues of Pharaoh Khafre (Khafre), and we now have an idea of his appearance.
For comparison, about the appearance of the pharaoh Cheops we know almost nothing, archaeologists have found only one of his statuette height of only 7.5 centimeters, and features on her are unclear. This figurine of ivory was found in Abydos and is now exhibited in the Cairo Museum .
Read more in our main article "The Pyramid of Khafre ".
Pyramid of Mikerin (Menkaure)
The smallest of the three. The height is 61 meters, in antiquity - 65.5 meters. The length of the base is 108.5 meters, the volume is 235,000 cubic meters.
Tourists, she is interested in two nuances. The first - on the lower tiers there remained a cladding. It's amazing how the miners of building materials did not take it off. When the cladding is preserved on the upper levels, it is clear that the plunderers just did not reach the top. And how is the veneer not removed on the lower? The riddle. The only reasonable version - the pyramid was covered with sand, and the miners of building materials simply did not notice this facing.
The second point is a big "scar" on one of the faces. Presumably, he remained from the attempt of the Arab Sultan Al-Aziz (the son of Salah ad-Din), who decided to dismantle the Great Pyramids in the hope of finding inside the treasure. His attempt was fiasco, and this scar is the result of this attempt.
Read more in our main article "The Pyramid of the Mikerin ".
The Great Sphinx
In the east of the pyramid of Chephren there is a huge statue of a sphinx - creatures with the body of a lion and a human head. Its length is 73.5 meters, width - 19.3 meters, height - 20.2 meters.
The first part of the tourist program of the Great Sphinx is to make a photo about the way you see on the right.
Earlier on the same tourist program and ended, as close to the Big Sphinx tourists were not allowed. Now you can go near him and see the memorial stele at his feet.
The Sphinx is fraught with many mysteries and questions: "Whose face is it?", "What is its function?", "Who and when broke off his nose and beard?". These secrets should be discussed in detail in a separate article.
Read more in our main article "The Great Sphinx ".
Inside the Cheops Pyramid
For 100 Egyptian pounds you can go down to the funeral chamber of the pyramid of Cheops. The number of visitors is limited to 300 people a day. If you are determined to get into the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops, then we recommend to come to Giza necropolis in the morning, otherwise you can "fly" with tickets.
Approximately at noon, tourist buses with excursion groups start coming up here, and tickets may not be enough. Inside tourists are launched in small groups, and at the entrance you will have to wait.
Inside, a narrow corridor about 40 meters long leading at a small angle downwards, then another 50 meters - a similar corridor at an angle upwards, and already behind it there is the most interesting - the "big gallery", waits inside the visitors.
The "big gallery" is a corridor about 2 meters wide and 8.5 meters high. Having reached this corridor, many tourists sigh with relief, because here it is finally possible to straighten out. It looks great, the lighting is organized from the bottom up, and visually it seems that the walls go up to the very sky.
The length of the Great Gallery is 47 meters. Right behind her is the funeral chamber of the pharaoh. When tourists enter it, they are surprised that there is nothing in it, except for an external stone sarcophagus.
Then immediately recalled a phrase from the classic Soviet comedy: "Everything has already been stolen before us." Indeed, the pyramids were plundered back in the First Transition Period - about 2200 BC. Even the mummies did not leave the robbers.
Inside, tourists are hoping to see graffiti, but there is disappointment. Famous "Texts of the Pyramids" began to be applied to the walls already under the V dynasty, and the Great Pyramids were built by the Pharaohs of the IV dynasty.
As a result of all the above-described moments, many tourists come out of the pyramid completely disappointed and grieving for wasted time and 100 pounds.
If you do not want to pay and get through the narrow passages
There is another way to get into the real Egyptian pyramid. To the east of the pyramid of Cheops there are three small pyramids, and one of them can be accessed completely free of charge and without compulsory fitness. At the entrance you need to show the guard your entrance ticket.
What else to see on the Giza plateau - The Museum of the Solar Rook
In most ancient cultures, different subjects were sent to the afterlife to be useful to the deceased. Of course, no one surpassed the Chinese emperor Qin Shihuang, he took with him to the afterlife the Terracotta Army - 8,000 clay soldiers. But the Egyptians in this respect have something to be proud of.
The ancient Egyptians were concerned about the problem of transport in the afterlife and buried whole ships with Pharaoh.
In 1954, near the pyramid of Cheops discovered underground storage. In these hiding-places there were real river ships in disassembled form.
The first of the found ships was lifted to the surface, or rather its part - 1224 parts. This "prehistoric lego" collected more than 10 years.
The result is now exhibited in a special "Museum of the Solar Rook", located next to the pyramid of Cheops. Subsequently, archaeologists discovered hundreds of such hiding places and ships all over Egypt. But it was this rook that survived the best.
In occasion of function of this ship disputes still are conducted. According to the main version - on this boat Pharaoh had to swim across the sky, like the god Ra.
What else to see on the Giza plateau - Light show
If you are attentive during the excursion to Giza, you will notice everywhere powerful installations of searchlights. They are shown in the photo to the right.
Spotlights are used for a light show. It looks very beautiful, the pyramids and the Sphinx are highlighted, and the laser beams show pictures telling the history of Egypt .
The show takes place 3 times a night in different languages, there is a version in Russian. The view can be viewed for free if you stay at a hotel in Giza in a room overlooking the Giza plateau. From Cairo arrange tours, tourists are brought to Giza at the right time, and after the show they are taken back to the hotel.
What else to look at the Giza plateau - Village workers
Naturally, the builders had to live somewhere. For these purposes, there was a special village on the west of the Cheops pyramid. Considering that about 30,000 people lived here, it is more a city than a village.
Unfortunately, the buildings here have remained poorly. For tourists there is little interesting, but this place is of huge interest for archaeologists and historians.
A lot of interesting artifacts were found here. Bones of animals, proving a rich diet of builders, clay products and vats for beer. All this shows us the main thing - the pyramids were built by ordinary workers, and not by slaves, as was generally assumed until recently.
Tourists will be useful to see this as evidence of the fact that the Great Pyramids were built by people, not by aliens from outer space.
The pyramids are really huge, and many tourists do not believe that ancient people could build such a thing. How can I deliver here and install such giant blocks of stone in the amount of 2.3 million pieces?
In reality, this is real. Historians carried out reconstruction, and there is nothing supernatural here.
The blocks are really large, but only at the bottom, the higher the tier, the smaller the blocks.
It was not necessary to transport them, as limestone was mined right here - on the Giza plateau.
Processing blocks also was not difficult. Limestone is a soft stone, and it can be grinded with tools made of copper or, even better, from a harder stone.
But what really should be surprised is the facing of the pyramids. Blocks of white Turian limestone were transported about 20 kilometers, while crossing the Nile. Red granite was delivered from Aswan, and this is almost 1000 kilometers along the river.
Perhaps, we have nothing more to say about the Great Pyramids. Read in our articles about Saqqara and the pyramid of Djoser , as well as about Dahshur , the Broken Pyramid and the Pink Pyramid . See the photo gallery from Giza .
Have a nice trip to Giza, and read our other interesting articles about Egypt ( links below ).
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