- Shivani Singh
Cairo and Giza (Egypt): Home of The Pyramids
Seeing the pyramids was a dream for me – a dream since I was capable of start dreaming! Yes… Since I don’t know when. I still remember the day I saw the photo of The Pyramids in one of my text books and boy, I was instantly fascinated!
They were built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world. Pyramids are one of the most magnificent man-made structures in the historyof humankind – Specially the 3 pyramids that are called The Great Pyramids of Giza.
Their massive scale reflects the special role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society. They were built so high because it was believed that after-death, the king’s soul ascend to heaven to join the God Sun, called God Ra in Egypt. Why? Because the kings were expected to become gods in the afterlife. To prepare themselves for the next world’s journey, the Pyramids, they built massive pyramid tombs for themselves. It seems The Pyramids were filled with all the things each ruler would need to guide and sustain himself in the next world.
More than 4,000 years later, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty, providing a glimpse into the country’s rich and glorious past. They are just not sky-touching structures that were erected, they are an incredible work of engineering, Egyptologists are still discovering more about these structures with each passing year. I got to know this from local people – how almost every year there is a new thing that is discovered in Giza.
One of the biggest mysteries about the Pyramids is the construction techniques used to erect them. Over 2 million limestone and granite blocks were used to build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Each piece of masonry weighed about 2.5 tons!! So how were these giant blocks moved? Unfortunately, there are no written records, and many theories have been proposed over the years.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is not only the most recognized of Egypt’s pyramids, it’s also the only of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Great Pyramid is incredible and can also tell time. The structure actually acts as an enormous sundial, with its shadow telling the hour by falling on marks made in the stone.
Of course, being the Great Pyramid, it couldn’t be just any old sundial. Its level of sophistication meant that it not only told time, but was able to signal solstices and equinoxes. It helped the Egyptians define their solar year.
Tomb robbers and other ravagers, in both ancient and modern times stole/destroyed most of the bodies and funeral goods from Egypt’s pyramids and plundered their exteriors as well.
The Great Pyramids no longer reach their original heights, because most of their smooth white limestone coverings were removed! Nonetheless, they still stand tall, astonishingly – narrating the story of their glorious past! Millions of people continue to visit the pyramids each year, drawn by their towering grandeur and the enduring allure of Egypt’s rich and glorious past.
My one-day journey in Giza and around
I was in Giza for a day and was assisted by a tour guide. I actually booked a tour from Sakkara Tours, Egypt! I had one full day to see the in and around of the city. We started off by 9.30 AM, for our exploration! We first went to the Great Pyramids: The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu’s wives, an even smaller “satellite” pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small Mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles. One of the small pyramids contains the tomb of queen Hetepheres (discovered in 1925), sister and wife of Snefru and the mother of Khufu.
While in the Great Pyramid, I will suggest you to please climb it up (from inside). It is honestly little scary but the climb is worth it – an experience. Though, there is not much to see when you finally reach up in a room (after a painful climb!) but you need to experience it!
Then we moved on to the Lord of the Sphinx. The word “sphinx”, which means ‘strangler’, was First given by the Greeks to a fabulous creature This had the head of a man and the body of a lion of Egypt, there are numerous sphinxes, usually with the Head of a king wearing his headdress and the body of a lion, the head and face of the Sphinx certainly reflect a style that belongs to Egypt’s old kingdom and to the 4th dynasty in particular.
Its a beautiful piece of architecture and you definitely need to see it to believe it! Once done with the Lord of the Sphinx, we went to The Egyptian Museum. It is a fascinating tour of more than 7,000 years. The museum has the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts (more than 145,000 items on display) featuring the famous Tutankhamen collection with its beautiful gold death mask and sarcophagus and the royal Mummy room, which houses an additional eleven Pharaonic dignitaries.
And in the end, we reached the fascinating Khan El-Khalili Bazaar: Reputed to be the largest bazaar in the Middle East, it is filled with colors and bustles of life! Originally founded as a watering stop for Caravanserai in the 14th Century, the bazaar has now grown to vast Proportions. As you wander through the labyrinth of narrow Streets, you will find workshops and stalls selling all kinds of things: from woodwork, glassware and leather Goods to Perfumes, Fabrics and Pharaonic Curiosities.
It’s everything you would hope for in a souq (marketplace). It’s a shopping mecca. It’s a perfect place to practice your haggling skills.
The Khan Al-Khalili is also an ideal place to get sugar cane juice or something healthier.
Few other things that I did in Giza were:
Their essential oils are very famous, specially papyrus oil. I went to a shop, where they explained how they make it and I also bought a bottle 🙂
Went to a shop where they made ancient paintings on papyrus paper – glowing in the dark, beautiful, filled with colors. You can get them personalised. I bought one of them as well.
After you’ve seen those three or four impressive and overlooked pyramids, you can see three sites in Cairo itself.
To understand Egypt, you must dive into Islam. In some countries, a non-Muslim cannot enter a mosque. Fortunately, in Cairo, men and women can visit the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. It’s one of Cairo’s oldest and most expansive mosques.The well-guarded Coptic zone contains the Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church, which has the site where some believe that baby Jesus rested during his family’s perilous journey into Egypt. Coptic Cairo also contains a Jewish synagogue.The first we went to was the Coptic quarter in Cairo. About 95% of Egyptians are Muslim but the Coptic Christians are an important minority.
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