The Giza pyramids are surreal when you visit them in person. These ancient masonry structures of the sandy Egyptian desert will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time thousands of years. Then you can travel to the present as soon as you turn around and see the tall city buildings in the distance. It is like being in two different eras at once.
The Great Pyramid was the first Giza pyramid to be constructed. It was ordered done by King Khufu of the fourth dynasty. Out of all 7 ancient wonders of the world, this monument is the only one of them still standing. Until the early 1900s, the world’s tallest building was the Great Pyramid (also known as Khufu’s Pyramid). There are three pyramids at the Giza Plateau, which is why this area is famous. After Khufu constructed his pyramid, he had a son named Khafre who went on to build another pyramid next to the Great Pyramid. You might think that Khafre’s pyramid is taller because it looks that way when viewed from a distance. However, it only appears this way because Khafre’s pyramid was constructed on higher ground.
King Menkaure was responsible for constructing the third pyramid. It is smaller than the other two. To build the pyramids, workers went across the river south of Cairo and into the Tura quarries to gather white limestone blocks. Despite the incredible distance and sizzling sunlight, they were able to bring those limestone blocks all way back across the river and into the desert of the Giza Plateau. The casing stones used for the pyramids were robbed at some point during these ancient times. The only casing stones left are at the top of Khafre’s pyramid, which is why the stones look smoother up there.
Many names have been given to the Giza pyramids throughout history. Some of the names include the “Mountains of the Pharaohs” and “Granaries of Joseph.” The origins of the pyramids continue to be up for debate and speculation. Some theories suggest that the pyramids were put in the Giza Plateau by extra-terrestrials. Others believe that a lost civilization from the sunken continent of Atlantis had built it. The biggest speculation about the pyramids is over how they were constructed. There were no machines or modern hardware to help the workers. How could they have lifted such heavy blocks by hand? Did they do this for religious reasons? Maybe cosmic reasons?
There are other structures associated with each pyramid. Some of which include the valley temple, causeway, satellite pyramids, and the mortuary temple. Unfortunately, most of them are in bad shape and cannot be seen clearly. Boat pits existed next to Khafre’s pyramid and Khufu’s pyramid. Ancient kits for constructing a full-length wooden boat were actually buried in these pits. In 1954, more than 1,200 pieces of a solar boat were found next to Khufu’s pyramid. Since then, it has been the oldest wooden boat to ever be discovered in the world.
Throughout the years since its discovery, professional craftsmen have renovated the wooden boat by reassembling it the best they could. It is now located in a museum dedicated to it. You can find this museum at Khufu’s pyramid on its southern side. There are a lot of mastaba tomb cemeteries around the pyramids. These tombs are about the same size. They were originally constructed in rows, similar to the way streets are laid out. Future burials compromised these tombs in the years since they were first used. The word “mastaba” refers to a massive rectangular structure that is constructed on top of a deep burial shaft. A Mastaba is derived from the word in Arabic that means “bench.”
The Great Sphinx is another famous feature of the Giza Plateau. The Sphinx is located near the valley temple and causeway of Khafre. It was beautifully carved to look just like a crouching lion, but with a head that looks human. The Sphinx is more than 20 meters high and is 73 meters in length.
During the era of the New Kingdom of Egypt, numerous kings had their own stelae and temples constructed near the Sphinx Temple. In fact, King Tuthmose IVbuilt the greatly known Dream Stela in between the paws of the Sphinx. The Giza Plateau continues to be excavated to this very day, despite being a tourist attraction. So many previously undiscovered structures and tombs continue to be found at this site on a regular basis. Experts believe that plenty more structures have yet to be discovered there as well.
Since the entire Giza Plateau is now basically a giant tourist complex, you could spend weeks there before you see everything there is to see. The locals are redeveloping some of the plateaux by adding new facilities which cater to the increasing number of tourists going there each year. The idea is to make it as tourist-friendly as possible.