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The Great Pyramids of Egypt

The Great Pyramids of Egypt were built at a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world. The pyramids especially (the Great Pyramids of Giza) are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history. Their massive scale reflects the unique role that the Pharaoh, or King, played in ancient Egyptian society. Though pyramids were built from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the close of the Ptolemaic period in the fourth century A.D., the peak of pyramid building began with the late third dynasty and continued until roughly the sixth (c. 2325 B.C.).  In Egypt, all but a select few of the pyramids were built as tombs, sometimes to hold the physical body of a pharaoh (as well as other individuals), or to hold the soul of the deceased (as in the case of the small cult pyramids built next to the larger ones). Otherwise, the purpose of only a few small, regional stepped pyramids remains elusive.

More than 4,000 years later, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty, providing a glimpse into the country's rich and glorious past. However, there are actually over 100 pyramids in Egypt, many of which are relatively unknown to anyone who is not an ancient Egypt enthusiast. All but a very few are grouped around and near the City of Cairo, just south of the Nile Delta. Otherwise, only one royal pyramid is known in southern Egypt (at Abydos), that being the one built by Ahmose, founder of the 18th Dynasty and Egypt's New Kingdom. It may have also been the last royal pyramid built in Egypt. Hence, major pyramids were not built throughout Egypt's ancient history.

The Pyramid Age began with a burst of building, starting with the 3rd Dynasty reign of Djoser. Some of the early kings, most specifically Snefru, built more than one pyramid. Almost all of the kings added to their number through the end of the Middle Kingdom, with the possible exception of the First Intermediate Period between the Old and Middle Kingdoms. After the first Pharaoh of Egypt's New Kingdom, Ahmose, royal pyramid building by Egyptians ceased entirely. Somewhat abruptly the kings of the New Kingdom chose, rather than making their tombs completely obvious, to hide them in the hills of the West Bank of Thebes (modern Luxor). 

However, smaller pyramids were constructed, for example in the Deir el-Medina necropolis, by private individuals. The Late Period Nubians who ruled Egypt also built relatively small pyramids with much steeper sides, though these were in fact constructed in Nubia itself. This tradition was carried on in Nubia after these southern rulers lost control of Egypt, and eventually, more pyramids were actually built in Nubia than Egypt, though on a much smaller scale.

The Pyramids Today
Tomb robbers and other vandals in both ancient and modern times removed most of the bodies and funeral goods from Egypt's pyramids and plundered their exteriors as well. Stripped of most of their smooth white limestone coverings, the Great Pyramids no longer reach their original heights; Khufu's, for example, measures only 451 feet high. Nonetheless, millions of people continue to visit the pyramids each year, drawn by their towering grandeur and the enduring allure of Egypt's rich and glorious past. 
The pyramids epitomize ancient Egypt, yet the biggest were constructed during a short span of time early in a civilization that was to last almost three millennia.  The first large Egyptian pyramid was the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, built during the third dynasty of the Old Kingdom to protect the body of the king Djoser who died around 2649 BCE.  It was this feat that heralded the short but remarkable age of the gigantic stone pyramids of ancient Egypt.
The greatest achievements of the pyramid builders were the Pyramids of Giza, built near the capital city of Memphis for the fourth dynasty kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure who ruled through 2589-2504 BCE.   But pyramid building soon waned as the power and prosperity of the kings of Egypt weakened with the end of the Old Kingdom

How they were built
It seems likely that the Pyramids of Giza were not built by slaves but by paid laborers motivated by a faith in the divinity and immortality of their kings.  Exactly how the pyramids were built is unclear.  It is likely that a sloping embankment was built up to or around the pyramid.  The huge blocks may then have been hauled on sledges with the aid of rollers, papyrus ropes and levers.  Although most stone was quarried locally at Giza, some had to be transported to the site along the Nile.

How to get there
By metro: Metro Line 2 runs from Cairo to Giza. Minibuses are available at Giza station and it takes 15-20 minutes to reach the pyramids.
By taxi: From Cairo.
By bus: Cairo Transport Authority (CTA) buses along routes 355 or 357 are available every 20 minutes from the airport and Heliopolis. 

You can go inside the pyramids, but beware if you suffer from claustrophobia. The climbs are very steep and narrow so your knees have to be in good shape. You have to get a separate ticket to enter the pyramids and they are limited to 300 per day. The distance between Cairo airport and the Great Pyramids of Giza is 30 kilometers.

What to see

The Great Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx
Gizah or Giza is a city situated along the west banks of Egypt’s Nile River. It is close to central Cairo and it currently belongs to the greater Cairo metropolis. With the Giza Plateau, the site of the world’s most impressive ancient monuments, Giza has become a popular tourist destination. Matter of fact, it’s the heightened number of tourists that brought the need for more lodging facilities which later on led to the establishment of more Giza hotels.
These are some of the Country’s pride. You won't want to miss one of the last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza. There are three main pyramids in Giza; the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops), The Pyramid of Kafhre and the smaller Pyramid of Menkaura.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) was originally 146 metres high (now reduced to 137 metres by natural weathering). Over 2 million blocks of stone were used to construct this structure and all through manual labour only.

Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren), which is a bit smaller than the Great Pyramid (at 471 metre high), but is better positioned on the desert plateau.

Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus) is the smallest of all the Giza Pyramids at a height of 62 metres (originally at 66.5 metres). Each Pyramid is a tomb to a different King of Egypt. In front of the pyramids lies the Sphinx, or what is called Abu al-Hol in Arabic, "Father of Terror". Carved out of a single block of stone, this enormous cat-like sculpture has mesmerized millions of visitors. 
There are more than 80 pyramids in Egypt. These pyramids make Egypt one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. These pyramids were built mostly between 2600 BC and 1500 BC. These pyramids are situated close to the mighty Nile River. After the ruler died and other prominent royal figures like the queens, their bodies were wrapped and preserved as a mummy, and placed in the Pyramid. The Pyramids of Giza and sphinx are the most popular in Egypt.  An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 workers built the Pyramids at Giza over 80 years. Giza also has the largest pyramid also known as "Great Pyramid" which rises an amazing 481 feet.
 
Giza's three pyramids and the Sphinx were thought to have been constructed in the fourth dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, arguably the first great civilization on earth. These pyramids have caused debates among different people on how they were built. Even though there is still debate about how the pyramids at Giza were built, most are in agreement it wasn't by aliens. It is believed that about 20,000 laborers were used and approximately 2 million blocks of stone, each weighing 2.5 tons, just to build the Pyramid of Khufu.

Other Pyramids
In Egypt, all but a select few of the pyramids were built as tombs, sometimes to hold the physical body of a pharaoh (as well as other individuals), or to hold the soul of the deceased (as in the case of the small cult pyramids built next to the larger ones). Otherwise, the purpose of only a few small, regional stepped pyramids remains elusive.

While pyramids were, for the most part, tombs for the Pharaohs of Egypt, one must nevertheless question the reason that Egyptian rulers chose this particular shape, and for that matter, why they built them so large. Today, we believe that they chose the shape in order to mimic the Benben, a pyramid shaped stone found in the earliest of temples, which itself is thought to symbolize the primeval mound from which the Egyptians believed life emerged. This also connected the pyramid to Re, the Sun God, as it was he, according to some of the ancient Egypt mythology, who rose from the primeval mound to create life.

As for the great size of many of the pyramids in Egypt, we can really only surmise that the pharaohs were making a statement about their own power and perhaps about the glory and strength of their country. However, it should also be remembered that many of the latter pyramids were not nearly as large as the Great pyramids at Giza. 

Solar Barque Museum: located along the southern face of the Great Pyramid. A well-done museum showcasing a ‘solar boat’ for the pharaoh’s use.

Various Queens Pyramids and Nobles tombs located in various regimented cemeteries surrounding the royal pyramids. Tomb of Seshemnufer the 4th is located here. Like all pharonic tombs, the burial chambers of the pyramids were packed with all the necessities for the next life.

Activities

Giza Pyramids Sound and Light Show in both Arabic and foreign languages like English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. In the show, the ‘voice of the Sphinx’ narrates the history of the Giza Plateau while a dazzling laser display picks out the details of the Pyramids and displays historical scenes. The show can be viewed from an adjoining Pizza Hut restaurant.

Camel Rides: However, it is advisable to avoid undertaking a camel ride around the Pyramids.

Horse riding in the desert. It is always better to hire horse from quality stables like FB Stables. Trip can be made to Saqqara or Abu Sir or overnight camping with barbecue and fire.

Where to stay

Pyramids Park Resort: This 5-star hotel in Giza lies in about 25 hectares of lush gardens. The hotel offers spacious rooms overlooking the Pyramids and the garden or the pool. Aside from a child-friendly atmosphere, you’ll also love their Spa/massage facilities, fitness center, tennis courts, hot tubs and onsite restaurant. They also provide babysitting services and wheelchair accessibility.
 
Le Meridien Pyramids
This 5-star Giza hotel is only a short walk from the famous Pyramids. Even the rooms offer stunning views of one of the Seventh Wonders of the World. There are also rooms that offer views of the pool. Broadband Internet access, kitchens, hot tubs are available. The hotel also has a fitness center, meeting facility, onsite hotel and handicap facilities.

Moevenpick Hotel
This cheap Giza hotel is located at 6th of October Dist. Giza Egypt. The hotel features azure blue pools, landscaped gardens and wonderful sceneries. Other amenities include broadband Internet access, an onsite restaurant, tennis court, kitchen, pool and a fitness center among others.

Royal Gardens Hotel
This is one of the 5-star hotel located at 13 Helmeiat Al Ahram Street Giza Egypt. It is right along the Giza district. It is about 15 minutes away from the Great Pyramids and the city center. Amenities to look forward to in this hotel include babysitting services, shops, an onsite restaurant, a fitness center, pool and meeting facilities. Rooms have air conditioning units, TVs and broadband Internet connectivity.

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