Beyond downtown Cairo, the city of Giza is noteworthy as a supplementary – and increasingly popular – alternative for tourists seeking food, lodging, and entertainment. The majority of these services are situated along the main thoroughfare in the area, Pyramids Road.
The Grand Museum of Egypt (the competition-winning design designed by an Irish architectural team headed by Shih-Fu Peng), the long-awaited principal successor for the long-standing Egyptian Museum in Midan Tahrir, will ultimately be built on the desert plateau of Giza, near to the Pyramids. The project is expected to be completed in 2015.
All of Giza’s noteworthy attractions are focused on the Giza Plateau, which is located at the end of Pyramids Road. Some visitors are surprised to see the top of a Pyramid come up above the golden arches of a McDonalds with an Arabic sign as they walk down a street in Giza; your imagination of pyramids coming up out of an empty desert may differ from reality.
There are two ticket offices: one at the main entrance and the other near Sphinx in the Plateau’s eastern section. If you take the second one early in the morning, you will escape the throng and have the opportunity to visit the Sphinx region alone and in peace. The entrance fee to the site is LE 60, with the Pyramid of Menkaure costing another LE 30 and the Great Pyramid of Khufu costing another LE 100. Student IDs will come in helpful, since they will get you a 50% discount. The inside of the pyramids is hot, humid, and claustrophobic, with steep, dusty corridors that are difficult to navigate, and individuals with heart or lung problems or a physical disability should avoid them. At any one moment, only two of the three pyramids are exposed to the public, while the third is being rebuilt, and they alternate every two years. It may, however, be an intriguing and informative experience for those prepared to withstand these circumstances. Seeing the inside walls and passageways of the pyramids firsthand heightens one’s understanding for the monumental task that the architects of these ancient monuments undertook. Cameras are not permitted within the pyramids. Visiting the Pyramid of Menkaure is a very comparable experience to visiting the greater pyramid, however it is much less expensive.
- Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) – The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) is the final remaining example of the Ancient World’s Seven Wonders, initially standing at 146 meters (479 feet) but now reduced to a still impressive 137 meters (449 feet). Over 2 million stone blocks were utilized in the construction of this structure, which was entirely done by hand.
- Solar Barque Museum – Located right next to the Great Pyramid’s southern face, this museum features an excavated and recreated “solar boat” that was buried with the Pharaoh for use on his daily trip with the sun across the sky.
- Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) – The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) is somewhat smaller than the Great Pyramid, however it seems bigger from certain perspectives because to its excellent location on the desert plateau.
- Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus) – Menkaure’s (Mycerinus) Pyramid is the smallest of the Giza Pyramids, standing at 62 meters (203 feet) (originally 66.5 m)
- Sphinx and the Temple of the Sphinx – the ancient Egyptians thought of the huge, reclining human-headed lion as the sun deity Re-Horakhty – “Horus of the Horizon.” The Egyptians call it Abu el-Hol, the “Father of Terror,” while the Greek term Sphinx means “Strangler.” The Sphinx is substantially smaller than the Pyramids around it, measuring 45 meters long and 22 meters broad and carved from a one massive piece of sandstone. The disappearing nose is blamed on boredom by tired troops, which is typically blamed on British soldiers in World War I or Napoleon’s forces in 1798, although 18th-century paintings show the nose already gone, placing the finger to the occupying Turks.
- Various Queens’ Pyramids and Nobles’ Tombs surround the royal pyramids in organized cemeteries. The Tomb of Seshemnufer IV, in particular, can be explored from the inside, where you may descend to the sarcophagus and get a sense of how it appears. Because this isn’t the major attraction, there aren’t many visitors, which makes this a fascinating visit.
The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities closes them to the public at least one at a time for conservation and repair procedures, therefore not all of the Pyramids are equally accessible for interior research.
Climbing the Pyramids, which was once a famous tourist attraction, is now both illegal and highly hazardous; numerous travelers have died while trying it. Some Pyramid guards have been known to turn a blind eye in exchange for baksheesh in less-frequented places, although this practice is highly discouraged since it has a detrimental influence on the pyramids. At night, however, it is very simple to get access to the Giza complex, and Khufu’s Great Pyramid may be scaled rather simply from the South-West corner. This is, however, still hazardous and unlawful.
Arrive to the Pyramids as soon as they open, since tour bus traffic and (in the summer) the heat rapidly overcrowd the sights, making it impossible to properly appreciate them.
Outside of the gate checks, do not offer your ticket to anybody. You’ll need to present it to get through the metal detectors at the Pyramids and Sphinx areas, as well as to enter the Pyramid if you want to pay for it. Many people will approach you and claim (true or false?) to work for the government, then ask to see/grab the ticket, take it, and attempt to start a tour for you. Don’t assume they’re legitimate simply because they’re doing it in front of the cops. They want to quickly explain things and then want a gratuity. Don’t give up your ticket, and don’t be scared to speak out and decline a tip. If you wish to take a tour, the better ones may be arranged ahead of time and will provide you with more precise information about what you’re viewing. (One of their favorite hiding spots is among the tombs outside the Great Pyramid.)