Historic Sights

The Pyramids of Giza – Southwest of Cairo, on the desert plateau of Giza, are the pyramid tombs of three fourth-dynasty pharaohs: Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaure (Mycerinus). The Great Pyramid of Khufu, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was built over the course of 20 years using more than 2 million blocks of stone. The second pyramid has two entrances on the northern side and seems almost as large as the Great Pyramid, mainly because it's on slightly higher ground, but its interior is less interesting. The third pyramid is the smallest but is distinguished by its red granite lower courses and its well-preserved chambers. Several underground tombs, which once contained lesser nobles, have been opened on the site, as well. The climb inside is hot and tiring, and it's not recommended for people who suffer from claustrophobia. Most visitors opt to enter only one pyramid.

Mercifully, regulations have limited the number of vendors, who attempt to sell you everything from fake papyrus and fake alabaster to overpriced stone scarabs and camel rides.  But…there are still many of them!



The Sphinx - A short distance from the Great Pyramid is the Sphinx, originally called Horem Akhet, or "Horus, Who is at the Horizon." This colossal figure with a human head and a lion's body, carved from one tremendous piece of limestone, guards the tomb of Khafre—in fact, the Sphinx's facial features are thought to be those of the pharaoh.

Three sound-and-light performances are held nightly at the foot of the Sphinx, in full view of the pyramids. The show, narrated by the Sphinx itself, details the history of the pyramids and features colorful illuminations. The shows are offered in various languages. The first show begins at sunset (generally 8 pm in summer, 6:30 pm in winter; times during Ramadan may vary) and is usually in English, but reconfirm this before heading out there. Arrive early to get a good seat.

There is an admission fee to the pyramids area which includes the Sphinx. An additional fee is charged for the sound-and-light show. If you want to visit any of the interiors, you'll have to pay an additional fee, depending on the pyramid; no video and photography allowed inside. Usually only one of the smaller pyramids is open at a time. Tickets to enter the Great Pyramid are limited, so you'll need to arrive early to get one. Two blocks of 150 tickets go on sale at 8 am and 1 pm.

The best bet is to take a guided tour or hire a private guide and car to tour the sites. Tour buses generally arrive via two entrances: The main entrance is a continuation of Pyramids Road (Sharia al-Haram) at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and the other entrance is via the village of Nazlet as-Samaan, below the Sphinx. Because tour agencies try to get their customers to Giza in the morning, you'll have a better chance of getting inside the Great Pyramid, and staying there longer, in the afternoon. However, temperatures are cooler and traffic on Haram Street is lighter in the morning


The Solar Boat Musem - The 140-ft/43-m cedar boat displayed there was discovered in 1954. It was probably a funerary vessel used to carry the deceased pharaoh Khufu to the Great Pyramid; it was later buried near his final resting place. Ancient Egyptians believed it carried the pharaoh as he accompanied the sun on its daily journey through the sky. The museum houses the boat, now restored, and the rectangular pit it was buried in.


Giza Zoo - Home to Giza's largest park, this chunk of green is home to endemic fauna and a collection of African animals, including the American alligator. It also has fascinating period architecture such as a suspension bridge designed by French architect Gustave Eiffel.

Travel 42

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Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon

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