The world-famous pyramids of Giza Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinos, thousands of years old, are the only surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Their construction over 2500 years before Christ still puzzles scientists today.
The world-famous pyramids of Giza in Egypt are the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still preserved and can be marveled at today. Since 1979, the three millennia-old main pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos, as well as the Great Sphinx, have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We have also put the imposing tombs on our list of the top 10 sights of Egypt.
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PICTURES: Pyramids of Giza
Where are the pyramids of Giza?
The gigantic stone buildings are located in the desert west of the Nile directly on the Sharia el-Ahram, the Pyramid Road. They are thus barely 10km from the 2-million-strong city of Giza and 15km from Cairo, and are easily reached by car or tour bus. Day trips and organized tours are offered at pretty much every corner in the area.
Tour of the pyramids of Giza
The pyramids of Giza are one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world - every year millions of people make a pilgrimage to the impressive burial place of the pharaohs. The empty space between the Pyramids of Cheops and Chefren is now used as a parking lot and the area is literally overrun not only by tourists, but also by merchants screaming to offer their wares.
The three main pyramids can also be visited from the inside through a narrow, stuffy corridor, but entry to the mortuaries of the former kings costs.
The Cheops Pyramid is the largest and probably also best known of the three main pyramids. At the time of its construction, it rose almost 150 meters above the ground, now it is "only" 140 meters due to wind and weather of 4 millennia.
Until the Middle Ages, it was the tallest building in the world, more than 3,000 years. The gigantic building is 225 meters wide, the largest hall inside it, the "Great Gallery" is barely 10 meters high and 50 meters long.
The Khafre pyramid is only 2 meters smaller than the K hafre pyramid and is a little bit higher, so it is often confused with the Khafre pyramid. As the son of Cheops, Khafre had his pyramid built only a short time after that of his father.
From the Cheops Pyramid a path leads to the Sphinx of Giza and further to the Temple of the Dead. There is also a museum next to it, where you can see, among other things, a restored sun barque, which was probably used to transport the stones on the Nile.
The Mykerinos pyramid seems almost tiny with its 62 meters height. Mykerinos also belonged to the family, he was the son of Khafre. Why the latter had such a modest tomb built is unclear to this day.
Astronomers assume that the constellation of the Orion belt should be emulated as a connection between heaven and earth, which also consists of two large and one small star. Also the sides of the pyramids are exactly aligned according to the cardinal points. The somewhat more pragmatic explanation is lack of money or space.
Great Sphinx of Giza
The Great Sphinx of Giza represents a lion with a human head and rightly deserves its name. She is gigantic 20m high and over 70m long and was built at the same time as the pyramids. Its imposing appearance probably served to guard the pyramids of Giza.
By the way, her nose is actually missing - there have already been the wildest theories about this fact, from shooting exercises by Napoleon's troops to presumed destruction by fanatics. The topic also found its way into several stories, such as the comic "Asterix and Cleopatra" or the Disney film "Aladdin".
In addition to these monumental structures, there are smaller pyramids where the queens of the pharaohs were buried, as well as villages of workers, burial grounds and temples.
One of these small pyramids is also often called the "fourth pyramid of Giza". It is the tomb of Queen Chentkaus I, which was first thought to be unfinished because it was not even 20 meters high. However, it had all the aspects of a ruler's tomb with the adjacent settlement for the priesthood and a ship's tomb.
Pyramids in the spotlight
After dark, the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx shine every evening in a light and projection show, accompanied by music and texts in different languages. What for some is kitschy to look at, for others still underlines the mystical aura of these ancient buildings.
Tip: Since it can get really cold in the desert, be sure to come to the show with long pants and jackets! Due to the free choice of seats, it is also recommended to be there as soon as possible to secure the best seats.
The mysteries of pyramid building
The pyramids of Giza have puzzled researchers since time immemorial. Their origin in the years 2600 to 2500 before Christ is not completely clarified until today.
The pharaohs Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos, in whose name the three enormous main pyramids were allegedly built, had nowhere written down to have commissioned them. That is rather unusual for such monstrous buildings. No grave goods or even mummies were found in the gigantic buildings, the sarcophagi were open and empty.
The next mystery: Today, scientists assume that about 10,000 Egyptian workers were involved in the construction. But how?
There could be no talk of wheels and pulleys yet, and yet for the Cheops pyramid alone they hauled 3 million limestone blocks weighing two and a half tons from the quarry to the construction site and then stacked them on top of each other. Thus the establishment of the pyramids was already attributed to ghosts and extraterrestrials, proofs in addition are missing naturally.
Mysterious shafts leading out of the king's chamber, blocked passages, walls behind which are more walls, and a myriad of indecipherable hieroglyphs contribute their part to the mysteries surrounding the pyramids. Deciphering them will take some time, even with the most modern tools. But that doesn't matter - even science doesn't always have to know everything, so the pyramids still retain a certain magic.