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The Giza Pyramids are the most famous postcard in Egypt, and the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. These beyond words structures have fascinated us for centuries, gathering culture, history, and mysteries. You will know more about them now!
The pyramids are burial structures and the Giza Pyramids are no exception. The famous pyramids in the necropolis of Giza are three: pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Miquerinos. These were pharaohs of antiquity, respectively grandfather, father and grandson who built the pyramids to be their resting place.
Did the Giza Pyramids have mummies in their interior?
Yes, even though none were found since explorers found their entrance. In Ancient Egypt, death was believed to be a ritual of passage. After death, the person would pass through a Final Judgment in which the god Osiris was the judge. Sins would be assessed and the "Book of the Dead" would have all the information about the person's acts in life. The heart would be weight and it should be lighter than a feather. Only this way the person could be contemplated with the afterlife.
In addition, the body should be preserved. This way the soul could find its way back, otherwise it would wander for eternity. That is why mummification rituals were so important in Ancient Egypt. Pharaohs were often considered gods themselves in human form. Their bodies were mummified and they were buried with all their belongings so these could be used in the afterlife.
Are the Giza Pyramids the first ever built pyramids in Egypt?
No. The Giza Pyramids were built around 2500 BC.
The construction of pyramids in Ancient Egypt had a long history before architects finally got them right, and previous pharaohs (such as Pharaoh Djoser, Cheop's father) tried it very hard. For a long time it was believed that the first pyramid to be built was King Djoser's Step Pyramid, in the Saqqara necropolis, which dates from the Third Dynasty. But recent studies suggest that there is an older one, the Gisr Pyramid, from the Second Dynasty. It is also located in the Saqqara complex.
Why are the Giza Pyramids the most famous ones?
Because they were the perfect pyramids after some not so successful attempts (at least under the eyes of the Ancient Egyptians). The King Djoser's Step Pyramid, for example, was the first triangular shape attempt. Other pyramids were built, but without the smooth finishing and straight walls, as was the case of the Red Pyramid, which actually is the second largest pyramid in Egypt (unfortunately lagged behind in terms of notoriety when compared to the Giza Pyramids).
What's special about the triangular format?
The Ancient Egyptians believed that the gods watched them from above the sky and that the Pharaohs had been sent by them as rulers as a representation of the gods in Earth. But to the Gods the pharaohs should return after their death. The triangular shape was chosen to facilitate the ascension of the pharaohs to heaven.
Each Giza Pyramid was built by the orders of a pharaoh, respectively Cheops (or Khufu), Chefren (or Khafre), and Menkaure (or Miquerinos).
For a long time it was believed that they were built by slaves, but researchers and archaeologists discovered that the people involved in the construction were salaried workers. It is believed that about 30 thousand men worked on the construction of the Cheops Pyramid for a period of 20 years and that their replacement was frequent due the high risks the job involved.
Where are the Pyramids of Giza located?
As the name says, in Giza. Giza is on the left bank of the River Nile and officially speaking it is another city, but due to the fast expansion of Cairo, it is commonly considered part of Cairo. After all, it is just to cross to the other side of the river and only about 6km separate downtown Cairo from Giza.
Is it possible to enter the Giza Pyramids?
Yes. Visitors can enter the three pyramids, but you need to buy an extra ticket for each. The Great Pyramid is the most striking but we do not recommend the experience for everyone. You see, the climb is narrow and you should wait for steep corridors. So, if you are the claustrophobic type, you better skip this one!
On the other hand, if you are fine with that, don't expect luxury once in the interior. Unfortunately, the tombs and sarcophagi were looted many centuries ago, and today there is not a lot to see. Yet, we must agree that it is not everyday someone can enter a pyramid and that it is a valid experience in itself.
When is the best time to visit the Giza Pyramids?
People visit the Giza Pyramids all year round but the low season in Egypt is between May to September and the high season covers from October to April. Temperatures are extremely high in June, July and August, so walking around the archaeological site requires some extra care, and during Ramadan, the holy month (which dates vary every year), the opening hours can be changed.
In general, visitors prefer to tour the pyramids in the morning or late afternoon. Save around 3 hours for your visit.
What else can I visit at the Giza Pyramids archaeological site?
The necropolis of Giza also counts with the Great Sphinx of Giza, whose feet and part of the body were covered up for many centuries, only being unearthed in the 20th century.
There are also other smaller pyramids, the Temple Valley, and the Solar Boat Museum. Finally, the Light & Sound Show in the evenings is an invitation to go back in time and watch light projections on the Great Pyramid's walls.