If you have read the previous post about my personal experience in Egypt, don’t be dissapointed as now you are about to discover the bright side of the story. A story that goes back in time, more than 5000 years ago when a beautiful, ancient civilization was governating over the land of Egypt.
The Giza platou, its main pyramids and the Sphinx
The main reason the tourists are traveling to Egypt nowadays are the great pyramids of Giza, located just 15 km away from the capital city of Cairo. The largest of them is the pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) and is the only ancient world wonder that is still existing today. The second largest pyramid is Khafre (son of Khufru), followed by Menkaure (son of Khafre) and the other smaller ones belonging to Khufu’s wife. All of them are visible from a plane and you should not miss the beautiful view during approach.
Thousands of years ago, when the pyramids were initially built they were covered with a majestic layer of white limestone which is now visible just on the top of the second’s largest pyramid. Unfortunately the modern egyptians decided to destroy those ancient monuments and use the beautiful facade in building mosques and other contemporary temples.
Between all of them stands the oldest known sculpture of Egypt and the most recognizable and “kissed” monument in the world: the great Sphinx of Giza. The Sphinx was initially a stone blocking the view of Khafre’s pyramid who have order it to be shaped in a mystical creature with the body of a lion and his own facial features. The Sphinx was originally covered with pink limestone that is visible today only in certain areas of the monument.
A whole life dedicated to the afterlife
As you most probably know the pyramids were build as eternal resting places for Pharaohs and sometimes took almost an entire life time in order to complete them. The ancient egyptians believed in the after life and dedicated most of their life on Earth preparing for the challenging journey in the underworld. Throughout the centuries the Pharaohs decorated their pyramids with magic spells and religious text not only to smooth their trip to the after life but also to protect their tombs from intruders and thieves.
Visiting the underworld
A trip to Giza wouldn’t be complete without a visit inside one of the pyramids. While the most visited one is the Khufu’s pyramid, the other two are identical, less crowded and way cheaper. I have chose to enter Khafre’s pyramid and even though I was a bit worried about the tight and long corridor, I have successfully managed to make my way until the end. Many tourists were giving up right from the entrance and if you suffer of claustrophobia you must not challenge yourself as there is no other way out other than the entrance itself. I was a bit dissapointed of the findings as I had expected to see walls beautifully ornated with hieroglyphics but as the guide later explained us, during the 4th dynasties the incantations were chanted and load spoken and not yet scribbled on the pyramids walls.
After descending and ascending two horizontal passages I found myself in the burial chamber, where an empty grave was guarded by an egyptian officer. When the pyramid was explored for the first time during the modern era it was found empty with an open sarcophagus (the same way as today but with its lid on the floor). I was now given the change of sitting on this sarcophagus and reliving a beautiful page of ancient history, a childhood dream turned into reality.
Saqqara, the necropolis of ancient Egypt
We continued our immersion into the past with a trip to Saqqara, after the tour guide continuesly rushed us and we ended up missing an important part included in the tour: the Panoramic view of the Giza platou.
Saqqara is a town in the desert, the ancient capital of Memphis which contains the oldest complete stone building ever known in the history, the step pyramid of Djoser, 300 years older than the famous pyramid of Giza. The story of the pyramid is really interesting and was explained in detail by our grumpy tour guide.
The pyramid was initially built in one layer, however the Pharaoh Djoser wasnt satisfied as he wasn’t able to see his tomb from the far so he ordered another layer to be placed on top and then another one. He was happy with the first 3 layers but the architect wasn’t, reason why he decided to add another 3 layers of stones the final result being a majestic resting place.
Saqqara it’s an important archeological and burial site where more than 150 intact wooden coffins with its mummies inside were found, including the well preserved mummy of Ramses II which can be admired in the National museum of egyptian civilization in Cairo.
Being dressed like an egyptian queen with a 10$ dress bought from a local market I immediately attracted a predator disguised as a security personnel who instead of doing his job (protecting the monumets), started following me and my photographer around the site waiting for his bribe. Even though we were shooting pictures with a phone and not with a professional camera like other tourists, we were suspected of using the site for advertising purposes and not for personal use. Bribe offered, peace of mind followed.
Memphis the first capital city of Ancient Egypt
The last stop of our tour is the ancient city of Memphis were a series of giant statues were discoverrd including the one of the great Ramses II, measuring over 30 feet. The statue’s legs were never found but an interesting fact about the statue is a prince figure carved between Ramses leg who is believed to be the Pharaoh’s son himself, Khaemwese.
Another important piece of interest discovered here is The Sphinx of Memphis, the largest Alabastro sculpture ever built.
An old man trying to sell his souvenirs follows me around the site with an ugly, old staue of Queen Nefertiti and I decide is time to call it a day. There is nothing more repulsive during a tour than the insistence of the street vendors. It really keeps the tourists away, decrease their sales and ruin ones day. Plus it brings the country a bad reputation worldwide, maybe is time someone tell them that.
During that day I have changed my outfit three times as you can notice from the pictures above and I was lucky to have with me a nice photographer who has spent his entire day running after me.
The ancient history of Egypt is truly fascinating and I have no doubt that one day I will return to Egypt to visit the beautiful city of Luxor and it’s Valley of the Kings.