Saturday, February 28, 2009

Giza, Egypt and the Pyramids!

Ahh, the pyramids! Seriously, wow! That is all I could say as I admired these huge structures and one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. We have all heard and read about these amazing pyramids, but seeing them in person, well, I was in awe. There really are no words to describe that feeling. A friend, who was in Egypt over Christmas, prepared me for this feeling. She also told me to really try and take it all in. Stare at them for a while and stop and realize where I am and what I was seeing. I did that, and I still could not believe what I was seeing with my own two eyes.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the weather was wacky. It was sunny, then raining, then sunny. It was always FREEZING and the wind was out of control. There was even a sand storm while we were at the Great Pyramid.

There was also a little fun to be had... After leaving Memphis and Sakkara, we stopped for a quick lunch and then on to Giza, a town on the west bank of the Nile river.

There are three pyramids at Giza. The first (and largest pyramid) we saw was The "Great" Pyramid, which is truly an astonishing work of engineering skill and for over 4000 years, until the modern era, it was the tallest building in the world.
The sides are oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass and the length of each side at the base is 755 feet. They rise at an angle of 451 feet. It was constructed using around 2,300,000 limestone blocks, weighing, on average, 2.5 tons each, although some weigh as much as 16 tons. Until recently, relatively speaking, it was cased in smooth limestone but this was plundered to build Cairo.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, also called Khufu's Pyramid or the Pyramid of Khufu, and Pyramid of Cheops, is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now Cairo, and is the only remaining member of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for Fourth dynasty Egyptian King Khufu and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC.

Can you believe they built this in just 20 years??? I was amazed! Some of the huge cathedrals in Europe took hundreds of years to build...and only 20 years to build this?! Wow, see why it is a Wonder of the World??!!! That was a fact I had not remembered (I told you I was not interested in history in my younger years) and am ashamed to admit that that I did not realize the pyramids were built as a tomb for the kings of Egypt. What was I doing during those history classes in school??

The pyramid in the background is the second pyramid that I will talk about later. That is me, in shock, and getting blown away!
The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface, and what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories regarding the Great Pyramid's construction techniques. Most accepted construction theories are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

The stones at the base were HUGE. Yeah, I do not think I will be climbing on these rocks!There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure.

You can go into the pyramids and into the tombs; however, if you are claustrophobic (which I am), it is not advised. The space is tiny walking in and does not get much bigger once inside the tomb. There really is nothing left inside the tomb as it has either been stolen or taken out and included in the Cairo Museum. So, I opted to stay in safe ground and not venture inside.

This is the Pyramid of Khafre and is the second largest of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids of Giza and the tomb of the fourth-dynasty pharaoh, Khafre (Chephren). The pyramid has a base length of 706 feet and originally rises to a height of 471 feet. The Pyramid is made of Limestone blocks (weighing more than 2 tons each). The slope of the pyramid rises at an 53° 10' angle, steeper than its neighbor Khufu’s pyramid, which has an angle of 51°50'40". The pyramid sits on bedrock 33 feet higher than Khufu’s pyramid, which makes it appear to be taller.The Pyramid of Menkaure, located on the Giza Plateau, is the smallest of the three Pyramids of Giza. It was built to serve as the tomb of the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure. Menkaure's Pyramid had an original height of 218 feet. It now stands at 204 feet tall with a base of 356.5 feet. Its angle of incline is approximately 51°20′25″. It was constructed of limestone and granite. The first sixteen courses of the exterior were made of granite. The upper portion was cased in the normal manner with Tura limestone. Part of the granite was left in the rough. Incomplete projects like this helps archeologists understand the methods used to build pyramids and temples.

South of the pyramid of Menkaure were 3 satellite pyramids none of which appear to have been completed. The largest was made partly in granite like the main pyramid. Neither of the other 2 progressed beyond the construction of the inner core. The e Pryamids of Giza. What a site! The Great Sphinx of Giza is a statue of a reclining lion with a human head. It is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 241 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 65 feet high.

The Sphinx was built in about 2530 BC by the pharaoh Khafre (4th king of Fourth dynasty, c. 2575–c. 2465 BC), the builder and occupant of the second Giza pyramid. The sphinx's face is a portrait of the king and the sphinx continued to be a royal portrait type through most of Egyptian history.

The Sphinx is thought to be primarily a guardian figure, protecting the tomb of the Khafre by warding off evil spirits. Arabs know the Sphinx of Giza by the name of Abu al-Hawl, or "Father of Terror." The Sphinx's face was mainly damaged during French occupation around 1800, when Mameluke troops used it for target practice for their field cannons, but its body has been weathered by the elements for thousands of years. The Great Sphinx faces due east and houses a small temple between its paws.
I have so many pictures of the pyramids that I will get posted on my Shutterfly account at some point in the near future, but I hope this gave you a little glimpse into the sites of the day. It was overwhelming, to say the least, to see these amazing structures.

Up next, the city of Cairo!


  1. Oh my gosh, sooo much history, I mean ancient history! Wow! Its hard to take it all in, is it not? You've done a wonderful job describing and giving background and historical context for it. Very interesting to learn about.

  2. How cool. Love the first picture. LOL

    So neat to be able to see, visit and touch and the history behind that...crazy.

  3. This just gets me jazzed! I'm in awe of the pyramids and loved reading what you wrote. Thx.
    The first picture is just perfect!!!

  4. Awesome photos! I can't imagine how amazing it was to see the pyramids in person!

    And your house is looking fantastic! :)