The Pyramids of Giza
Located just outside of the outskirts of Cairo on the esplanade known as the Giza Plateau, the Great Pyramids of Giza is the must-see Ancient Egyptian landmark. Known as Khufu's Pyramid, it is the greatest pyramid of the complex: a truly overwhelming sight. Being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it is the only one still standing to this day! When gazing at this colossal structure, there's no way to escape the feeling of being dwarfed..
The Giza Pyramids, built to endure an eternity, have done just that. The monumental tombs are relics of Egypt's Old Kingdom era and were constructed some 4,500 years ago.Egypt's pharaohs expected to become gods in the afterlife.To prepare for the next world they erected temples to the gods and massive pyramid tombs for themselves—filled with all the things each ruler would need to guide and sustain himself in the next world.Pharaoh Khufu began the first Giza pyramid project, circa 2550 B.C.
His Great Pyramid is the largest in Giza and towers some 481 feet (147 meters) above the plateau. Its estimated 2.3 million stone blocks each weigh an average of 2.5 to 15 tons.Khufu's son, Pharaoh Khafre, built the second pyramid at Giza, circa 2520 B.C. His necropolis also included the Sphinx, a mysterious limestone monument with the body of a lion and a pharaoh's head.
The Sphinx may stand sentinel for the pharaoh's entire tomb complex.The third of the Giza Pyramids is considerably smaller than the first two. Built by Pharaoh Menkaure circa 2490 B.C., it featured a much more complex mortuary temple.
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Sphinx of Giza
The Great Sphinx is located on the Giza plateau, about 10 km west of Cairo, on the west bank of the Nile River. Later Egyptian rulers worshipped it as an aspect of the sun god , calling it Hor-Em-Akhet (“Horus of the Horizon”). The Sphinx sits in part of the necropolis of ancient Memphis, the seat of power for the pharaohs, a short distance from three large pyramids – the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaura (Mycerinus).
The monument is the largest surviving sculpture from the ancient world, measuring 73.5 m in length and in parts 20 m in height. Part of the uraeus (sacred cobra which protected from evil forces), the nose and the ritual beard are missing; the beard is now displayed in the British Museum. The extensions at the side of the head are part of the royal headcloth. Although the head of the Sphinx has been badly affected by thousands of years of erosion, traces of the original paint can still be seen near one ear. It is thought that originally the Sphinx’s face was painted dark red. A small temple between its paws contained dozens of inscribed stelae placed by the Pharaohs in honour of the Sun god.
THE PHARAOH’S DREAM
The Sphinx has suffered greatly from the ravages of time, man and modern pollution. In fact, what has saved it from complete destruction is the fact that it has been submerged beneath the desert sand for most of its life. There have been various attempts to restore the Great Sphinx over the millennia, beginning in c. 1400 BCE with the pharaoh Tuthmosis IV. After falling asleep in the shade of the Sphinx when out hunting, the pharaoh dreamt that the great beast was choking from the sand engulfing it, and that it told him if he cleared the sand he would obtain the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. In between the front paws of the Sphinx is a granite stela, now called the “Dream Stela”, which is inscribed with the story of the pharaoh’s dream.