A Day at the Pyramids
There’s plenty to do in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, itself to keep you busy. Over 136,000 ancient artifacts are on display at the Egyptian Museum in the heart of one of the world’s first civilizations, including the findings from the famous Tomb of King Tut. The Khan el-Khalili is a vast open-air market that has been operating since the 14th century. The Coptic Museum highlights ancient Cairo’s relationship with Christianity. The Mosque of Ibn Tulun is the oldest in Cairo, constructed in 879 AD, and The Alabaster Mosque is iconographic of Cairo. And of course, there is the Citadel, a massive complex home to many attractions. A great activity to partake in Cairo is to hop on a felucca for a ride on the Nile River. And no trip to Cairo would be complete without a taste of the authentic and delicious cuisine. That sounds like a pretty great vacation, doesn’t it?
Just south of Cairo, stands the last remaining wonder of the original Seven Wonders of the World to still be mostly intact, the Great Pyramid of Giza. And it is this marvel of architecture that brings most tourists to the area. There are plenty of ancient sites in and around Cairo. The original capital of Memphis with its alabaster sphinx is a hot spot for antiquities experts and tourists alike. Saqqara’s Imhotep constructed Step Pyramid is a must see. And the pyramids at Dashur, while overshadowed by those at Giza, are a marvel in their own right.
But it’s really all about the Great Pyramid. The title says it all. There’s not really anything else like it. There are two other pyramids at Giza, but the Great Pyramid is the oldest, largest, and most famous. Built over at least a decade if not two around 2560 BCE, the Great Pyramid has been standing for 4,500 years and was the tallest man-made structure for 3,800 of them. There are three chambers inside the Great Pyramid, the Queen’s Chamber, the King’s Chamber, and the Grand Gallery. The construction of the Great Pyramid is in a class by itself.
How to Get There?
Getting to the pyramid complex is easily managed through public transportation including metro, taxis, and buses. Once on the grounds, you will need to buy tickets. This is also a great time to go for a camel ride. In addition to the three pyramids, there are plenty of other sites at Giza, including the Great Sphinx, Necropolis, and temples. Tourists enter the Great Pyramid (aka Pyramid of Khufu) through the Robber’s Tunnel before heading up the ascending passageway (the Great Pyramid is the only known pyramid in Egypt to have both ascending and descending passageways, though the descending passage is often closed to visitors).
It costs about $10 to enter the site of the pyramids at Giza and an additional $16.50 to tour inside the Great Pyramid. It used to be that swarming crowds flocked to the pyramids and only 300 visitors were allowed inside per day so as to keep the monument in good condition. Since the Egyptian Uprising in 2011, both tourist numbers and prices have gone down. On the one hand, there is a good reason to be careful about a trip to Egypt. On the other, there may never be a better time to see the Great Pyramid.