One of the biggest draws in all of Egypt is without a doubt the Great Pyramid at Giza. This spectacular monument that overlooks Cairo is one of the most famous destinations on the entire planet, and the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing.
It is an iconic place that finds itself on the bucket list for many world travelers, and rightfully so. But due to that iconic status, it also runs the risk of being a bit of a disappointment. After all, how can a place with such a fantastic reputation possibly live up to all of the hype?
As someone who has now visited the site of the Great Pyramid – and it’s two lesser companions – on two separate occasions over the past decade, I can assure you that the pyramids of Egypt are anything but disappointing. For me – a student of history – they live up to all of my expectations, and then some. The mere site of these three massive structures is enough to instill a sense of awe that few other manmade destinations can compare to.
The sheer size and audacity of the pyramids is enough to make them worthy of “wonder” status. After all, it is estimated that the Great Pyramid alone is made up of more than 2.5 million individual stones, each weighing in excess of 6000 pounds (2727 kg).
Those stones were individually crafted to fit into the overall structure, and help make it one of the most impressive construction projects ever undertaken. When it was completed in 2560 BC, the Great Pyramid was easily the tallest building on the planet, and it remained so until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1895. That means for nearly 4500 years, it reigned supreme.
Walking across the sands that surround the three pyramids at Giza one can’t help but marvel at the massive undertaking put fourth by the Egyptian people to complete the project there.
The pyramids are as impressive in real life as they are in any photos, and perhaps even more so when you are given a better sense of the scale of the monuments, and the site that they occupy. The number of people who worked on building these tombs dedicated to ancient pharaohs must have been staggering, as was the effort they put fourth over decades of work just to erect these massive stone buildings.
It is also impressive to think about the major figures in history who have traveled to Egypt just to see the pyramids. Over the centuries, countless kings, presidents, and diplomats have walked the sands of Giza just to gaze on the impressive sight. Alexander the Great is counted amongst them, having gone there when he conquered the region in 332 BC.
Julius Caesar would follow suit nearly 400 years later. Others who spent time in the shadow of these amazing monuments include Napoleon Bonaparte, Mark Twain, and Florence Nightengale. The pyramids have seen history come and go, and yet they continue to be a part of it to this day.
Obviously no visit to Egypt is complete without stopping in Giza to pay homage to the pyramids. It is probably the most “touristy” thing that you can do here, but it is also one of the most important. Fortunately, the site is easily accessible, and well worth the effort. It is one of those rare monuments that lives up to its status, and delivers more than you could hope.
Having seen the pyramids both before and after the Arab Spring, I can tell you that now is a great time to go. While crowds are modest in size, they are not overly large, and it is easy to get close to these stone structures without throngs of visitors getting in your way. In fact, my recent visit proved to be incredibly pleasant.
Tourism is on the upswing once again in Egypt, and soon things will return to normal in terms of the number of people coming to visit. If you’re thinking that it is a place you might want to visit in the future, I’d urge you to come now.
Not only will you find plenty of good deals for travel within the country, you’ll also discover that the most famous sites are far from overcrowded. That hasn’t always been the case in the past, and now is the time to take advantage of this situation.
There are other monuments I’ll be writing about in the near future, but the Great Pyramid is the cornerstone of tourism in Egypt, and practically worth the trip all on its own. If you love history, or simply want to see one of the most amazing structures ever built by man, you owe it to yourself to go.
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