Just a few minutes south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile, the Pyramids of Giza rise out of the desert expanse—a tribute thousands of years old to an ancient culture. Built about 5,000 years ago, the three large Pyramids of Giza are the most recognizable Egypt attractions, as well as one of the most recognizable destinations on the planet. No visit to this ancient nation could be truly complete without standing in the presence of the Egyptian pyramids.
In 2,589 BC, the first pyramid of the Giza complex—the pyramid of King Khufu or Cheops—was started. This was not the first pyramid built in Egypt (and these three pyramids are not the only pyramids in Egypt), but it is the largest and most well known. Soon after its construction, Khufu's son and grandson built the other two pyramids, completing what visitors commonly recognize as the Pyramids of Giza. While the three largest structures are obviously the most attention grabbing, the Giza Plateau is a complex including many other ancient buildings, among them the Great Sphinx.
Obviously, the Egyptian Pyramids are huge, but standing face to face with them will astound anyone, no matter how many photos or TV shows you may have seen. The largest has stones averaging 2.5 tons each and covers 13 square acres of ground. You can spot the pyramids from tall places in Cairo, but the best way to see these structures is up close.
There are a few options for how to reach the pyramids from Cairo. Taxis are cheap in this area and are a good option. Buses also depart Cairo for the pyramids.
Once you arrive at the Giza Plateau, you can tour the site on foot or ride a horse or camel. Again, be aware of anyone trying to take advantage of you and your tourist money. Do not take a picture with a camel unless you want to pay for the privilege. Before you take a camel ride, bargain to get a lower price. Prices are not set in stone here and you will pay more if you don't attempt to bargain the price down.
Though many may find it a suprise, visitors can actually go inside the great pyramid. The climb inside is steep and the passage is narrow, but unless you are claustrophobic, this is the experience of a lifetime. Standing in a space built by the hands of laborers nearly 5,000 years ago, dimly lit and far away from the modern world, is breathtaking. Those with bad backs or knees are advised not to go.
Similar to another site, the Temple
of Karnak, a sound and light show centers around the
Great Sphinx each night at dark. While perhaps not an
experience that will take you back to ancient Egypt, the
light and sound show is worth seeing and includes interesting
facts about the Pyramids of Giza. Thought to have been
built by Khafre, the builder of the second highest pyramid,
the Great Sphinx spent much of its existence under sand.
Only for this reason is it still standing, but has eroded
due to its exposure to air and pollutants.
While in Cairo, the Egyptian pyramids and the Great
Sphinx on the Giza plateau is an experience that should
not be missed in your visit. Just a short ride outside
of the city, these ancient Egypt attractions are massively
breathtaking and fascinating.