Hello dear Sparkfriends,
Unlike my other blogs about Cairo, this is going to be a completely touristy blog, I am not ashamed to say!
That morning, my colleague Mumtaz picked me up at my hotel in Cairo at 7am and we headed towards Giza to see the Pyramids! (The little I know about the Pyramids I learned from Mumtaz... thank you!!!)
One hour later, we were there...
The Pyramids (of Giza... there are 80 in total around Egypt!) are actually very close to Giza, which is part of Cairo Metropolis. Here you can see a little the city as it appears from the Pyramids...
To me though, the best way to get an idea of how close the Pyramids now are to the city is Google Maps...
Isn't it amazing? I thought the Pyramids were in the middle of the desert, when actually they are very close to modern buildings. I was impressed how huge they were!
Here is Mumtaz at the bottom of one of the smaller pyramids:
The Great Pyramid (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) was the tallest building in the world until the 19th century. It is 481 feet (146.5 metres) high. Also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, it was built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu around 2250 BC. He was 20 when he organized for his pyramid/tomb to be built! This is what I call planning ahead! :) The entire project took about 23 years to complete. 2,300,000 building blocks, weighing an average of 2.5 tons EACH (although some weigh as much as 16 tons!) were used to build it.
Originally, beautiful smooth blocks known as 'casing stones' covered the entire exterior of the pyramid, encasing the whole structure. It has been calculated that the original pyramid with its casing stones would act like gigantic mirrors and reflect light so powerful that it would be visible from the moon as a shining star on earth. In the 14th century, earthquakes struck Egypt, toppling temples and snapping bridges. The pyramid's limestone casing was removed and repurposed for repairs. Many buildings such as mosques or churches in Cairo today were also built with these casing stones.
I have to confess we didn't go inside and that is entirely my fault! I tend to get a bit claustrophobic, especially when the space is limited and there isn't a lot of air to breathe, so the thought of walking in long corridors, having to bend part of the time as the ceiling is very low (and I am 6ft!) didn't appeal much to me.
We didn't stay outside the whole time though... Having passed by this temple at the bottom of the pyramids...
... We entered a museum. Mumtaz didn't reveal to me what was inside, so that it remained as a surprise.
Yes, it was a boat! A huge cedar-wood solar boat. It has a very simple, elegant and refined line. The boat was meant to help the pharaoh cross the river to eternal life.
It was found sealed in a pit at the base of the Great pyramid. This boat was interred in pieces and has since been reassembled, restored and preserved in this climate controlled museum over the site of the original pit. Another similar boat was found nearby lately:
At the museum I bought some postcards to send to a couple of friends (I warned you it was a completely touristy blog!!!)...
... and then we walked to the Sphinx.
According to Wikipedia, it is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 73.5 metres (241 ft) long, 19.3 metres (63 ft) wide, and 20.22 m (66.34 ft) high. It is the oldest known monumental sculpture, and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafra (c. 2558-2532 BC!).
I know some of you often comment how amazed you are that some buildings that are 1000 years old are still standing in Europe... Can you imagine that the sphinx is over 4500 years old? To me it is mind blowing!
VoiÃ ! This was my visit to the Pyramids of Giza, and the last of my blogs about Cairo (I came back to France 10 days ago)! I was really encouraged by all your kind comments on my latest blogs. I had thought that maybe you would read the first one and then get a bit bored, but it wasn't so! It encourages me to keep posting blogs when I travel!