Do you want to visit the Giza pyramids in Cairo? Discover in this article everything you need to know about this mythical site of Ancient Egypt, still bathed in mystery today.
- History of the Pyramids of Giza
- What to see and what to do at the pyramids of Giza?
- – The pyramid of Cheops
- – Chephren’s pyramid
- – The pyramid of Mykerinos
- – The Sphinx
- How to get to the pyramids of Giza?
- Schedules & Prices of the Giza pyramids
- – SCHEDULES
- – PRICES
- GOOD TO KNOW
Who has never dreamed of visiting the pyramids of Giza? The silhouette of these three colossi has haunted the imagination of Man since Antiquity… From Alexander the Great to Napoleon, passing by Caesar, everyone has gazed with admiration at these eloquent witnesses to the ingenuity and power of Egyptian civilization.
What is the history of the site? How to visit the pyramids of Giza? To be sure not to miss this visit full of history and emotions, prepare your stay!
History of the Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza dominate the desert plateau of Giza, on the west bank of the Nile. They are part of the necropolis of Giza, which houses the tombs of the pharaohs of the 4th dynasty. They ruled the Old Kingdom of Egypt from 2550 to 2450 BCE.
During the first two dynasties, the burials of the kings took the form of rectangular constructions in cut stone, sometimes slightly inclined towards the interior: these are mastabas. Later, the Egyptians built tiered mastabas, which were gradually replaced by step pyramids. Finally, the pyramids of Gizeh take the form of smooth-faced pyramids: they are the most accomplished funerary buildings of Ancient Egypt.
These three extraordinary pyramids most certainly house the tombs of Cheops , Chephren son of Cheops and Mykerinos son of Chephren, all three of whom were pharaohs. However, while these attributions are most likely correct, there is no indisputable proof! The pyramids of Giza are still shrouded in mystery today. And for good reason: since Antiquity and until the 19th century, they were victims of numerous lootings. The archaeologists were unable to find either a body or any other funerary remains there…
It is most certainly partly for this reason that the next dynasties will see their kings buried in long galleries dug into the sides of the mountain: these underground tombs are called hypogea. Even today, new tombs are discovered in the famous Valley of the Kings.
But back to the pyramids of Giza: how not to mention their construction, which has caused so much ink to flow? While some attribute it to extraterrestrials, the pyramids are in fact the work of remarkable engineering, as evidenced by Merer’s scroll . This millennial document shows the construction of artificial canals which were used to transport no less than 4.7 million tons of stones for the pyramid of Cheops! Despite beliefs, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built by free workers (the remains of the workers’ village on the necropolis bear witness to this)… And that in just 20 years!
What to see and what to do at the pyramids of Giza?
The necropolis of Gizeh is made up of three tombs, which are attributed to Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos. Looking at the site from the sky, you will only see the three pyramids , but in reality things are a little more complex. Thus, each tomb is composed of:
- A pyramid (the tomb of the pharaoh);
- A surrounding wall around the pyramid;
- A high temple, attached to the pyramid;
- A causeway;
- A low temple at the end of the causeway;
- Small annex pyramids;
- Cemeteries and/or graves.
Have you decided to visit the Giza pyramids? Here is what you will discover on this incredible site:
The pyramid of Cheops
The Pyramid of Cheops , or Great Pyramid of Giza, is the largest of the three pyramids: 138 meters high, 146 at the time. It is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that can still be admired today! It is thought to have housed the sarcophagus of Cheops. Today, we don’t know much about this pharaoh. Herodotus made him a megalomaniac and cruel character, but the Greek historian visited the place… 2000 years after the construction of the pyramid! All that remains of Cheops is a small statue of him that can be admired in the Cairo Museum.
It is possible to visit the interior of the pyramid, but if the symbol is strong (you are walking in the footsteps of 4500 years of history…), you will not see anything of value there. If in addition you are a bit claustrophobic, abstain!
At the foot of the pyramid is a large, rather unsightly concrete shed. It houses a sacred solar boat 46 meters long, a real masterpiece made from cedar wood from Lebanon, which would have allowed Cheops to reach the Beyond.
The pyramid of Chephren
The pyramid of Chephren is quite similar to the first: it is now 136 meters high, against 143 when it was erected. You will be surprised by the fact that it nevertheless seems larger than the first one. In fact, it is built on a rock base, which gives that impression. You can visit the interior, as for the pyramid of Cheops.
The pyramid of Mykerinos
Finally, the latter is the smallest of the three. It would indeed seem that Mykerinos was less ambitious, since his pyramid is “only” 66 meters high. It marks the end of the era of the giant pyramids to announce the coming of a new series of pyramids. First particularity, its facades are decorated with decorations, which is unprecedented. Finally, the architecture of the burial chamber and the pavement differ from the other two pyramids.
Visiting the pyramids of Giza is also an opportunity to admire the famous Sphinx , which measures more than 70 meters in length, 14 meters in width and 20 meters in height. It is the largest monolithic sculpture in the world, even today! It represents a colossal reclining sphinx, a chimera from Egyptian mythology symbolizing the union between the god Ra and the pharaoh – here, Cheops.
How to get to the pyramids of Giza?
The Giza Necropolis is 8 kilometers from the city of Giza and 25 kilometers from Cairo.
From the center of the capital, it will take you 30 minutes to an hour to reach the site. There are two entrances to access it: one near the Sphinx and another near the Cheops pyramid.
To visit the Giza pyramids, you can choose to book a bus tour from Cairo, but the most practical and economical solution is to hire a taxi .
Schedules & Prices of the Giza pyramids
The Giza Pyramids site is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
To visit the site of the Giza pyramids, count 160 Egyptian pounds, or 8.30 € . The prices keep going up lately.
- Visit to the interior of the Cheops pyramid : €19.50;
- Visit to the interior of the second and third pyramid : €5.40;
- To admire the solar boat : €5.40.
GOOD TO KNOW
– A few years after the Arab Spring, Egypt is once again opening up to tourism. The atmosphere in Cairo at the moment is pleasant and the prices are attractive;
– A tip for accessing the site: ask the taxi driver to drop you off at the entrance near the Cheops pyramid and expect the one near the Sphinx. The site is on a slope, so you can visit downhill. Rather welcome in case of hot weather…
– To avoid the crowds, prefer to visit the pyramids of Giza early in the morning, as soon as they open;
– We advise you to hire a guide to visit the pyramids of Giza in order to immerse yourself in the history of this part of Ancient Egypt.