Lonely planet egypt guide  
 

The Great Pyramid Of Giza - A Monumental Structure
By Felix Koskei

Egypt is one of Africaís richest countries in terms of history. Egyptís history goes back to the ancient times before the Bible. The biblical and cultural history of Egypt is as diverse and intriguing as the undiscovered tombs and cities lying underneath the desert sand in Upper and Lower Egypt.

Cairo is a city full of life. One aspect I quickly noticed when I set foot in Cairo is the traffic. Cairo is home to over 16 million inhabitants of which an additional 2 million people commute into the city in the morning and depart at sunset. In spite of the city having huge multiple-lane spaghetti highways, the traffic is extremely heavy. As you approach the city centre, a highway of 3 lanes is tuned into 5. The most notorious motorists are the taxis. As one drives in the city, one of your hands will permanently remain on the horn. I thought Nairobi had the worst traffic congestion in Africa, but Egypt for sure makes Nairobiís traffic child-play.

The pyramids at Giza can be clearly seen from most parts of the city on a clear day. The Great Pyramids of Giza is such an imposing and monumental structure. It is absolutely mind-boggling to imagine that the ancient man with limited technology and workmanship could put up such a huge structure. Of course, how the pyramids were built is a question of great global debate and may never be conclusively answered. Other theories even point to outer space aliens as the sole builders of pyramids in Egypt.

The great pyramid of Cheops, which is the largest of the pyramids in Giza stands at height of 140 metres. It is a spectacular sight to arrive at the foot of the pyramid and just gaze at its sheer size. It is estimated that each

block of stone weighs about 2.5 tons and over 2.3 million of these blocks were used to build this pyramid. It is estimated that the Great Pyramid of Cheops weight over 6 million tons. One aspect that I noticed while viewing the pyramids from afar is the precise and exact structural design. Although most of the encasing marble was removed centuries ago and subsequently eroded by rain and sunshine, safe for the top most apexes, the triangular structural design is absolutely perfect.

The most intriguing aspect of the pyramid is the entry passage into its inner chambers. This is a task many people including myself found challenging. Anyone who is 6 feet tall like me will definitely run a sweat while trying to maneuver the way up the internal chambers of the pyramid. The entrance is about 1 meter square. This does not end there; I then realize that this is actually a stair case passage rising at an angle. Have you ever tried climbing up a stair case in a crouch position? Imagine climbing stairs that the whole passage is 1 meter square. To make matters worse, it is summer time and the temperatures outside is around 35 degrees Celsius. The stair case passage in the pyramid has no windows or air condition; so you can imagine how hot it is. Other passages descend as other go horizontal. Inside the pyramid are different burial chambers for the King and Queen. The tomb was of course robbed centuries ago and was found empty by archeologists. Any information about King Cheops was subsequently taken during the robberies and very little is known about him. He is thought to have been the ruler of a highly structured society and he must have been very wealthy. King Cheops was buried alone in this massive pyramid. It is estimated that his pyramid was built between 2589 - 2566 BC.

From the Pyramids, I visited the Valley of Temple where dead kings were mummified. The mysterious Sphinx kept guard at the cemetery for over 5000 years.

Egypt will not be complete without a visit to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities housing the largest collection of Egyptian monuments in the world, 250,000 items. Here, you can also see the jewellery of the famous King Tut Ankh Amun, which dates back to 1352 B.C. A tour of the Citadel of Saladin is a must. This was built in 1176. The Alabaster mosque of Mohamed Ali which was built on 1824 AD is also worth seeing.

In the evening I went for dinner in a floating restaurant while cruising down the River Nile. On board there was a beautiful belly dancer to entertain the diners and a folkloric show. The cruise deck provides a beautiful night skyline of Cairo. The city is very well lit at night.

In the summer time, Cairo is mostly active during the night than during the day. This is due to the high temperatures experienced during the day. Stores, restaurants, malls etc remain open most of the night.

Other areas to visit in Egypt are Luxor, Alexandria and Sharm El Sheikh. A 4 day luxury cruise along the River Nile is an awesome experience.


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