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The Pyramids of Giza and The Great Sphinx are located around 8 kilometres outside of Giza and about 28 kilometres outside of the center of Cairo. The Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx strike awe and wonder around the world and are the only surviving ruins of the original 7 wonders of the ancient world making them truly a Famous Ruin. These pyramids were built as the final resting place for pharaohs, which were kings of divine right and were seen as living gods. Upon a pharaohs death he would become a god. Depending on how successful his reign was while he was alive, foretold what power he would have in the afterlife.
The pyramids were constructed during the period called the Old Kingdom. This period started in 3150 BC with political unification of Lower and Upper Egypt, which resulted in the enthronement of the first pharaoh. The Pharaoh Djoser, who ruled from 2630 to 2611 BC, constructed the first pyramid. This is the famous step pyramid and its engineering was very simple although effective in the face of time.
The Old Kingdom reached the height of its power during the fourth dynasty with the Pharaoh Snefuru, who ruled form 2575 to 2551 BC. Trying to push technology to its limits at the time he tired to build three pyramids, and in the process used more stones then any other pharaoh. He built the now collapsed Meidum Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid that also failed and the small Red Pyramid the only one that is still standing.
Sneferu’s son Khufu, who ruled from 2589 to 2566 BC, is the pharaoh that ordered the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. This might be one of the greatest monuments of all time its construction came at a cost. Egyptian literature portrays Khufa and a cruel and overbearing tyrant that imposed forced labor upon his subjects. This is in debate because many of the writers of these documents, even though Egyptian, were still writing them over a thousand years after Khufu’s death!
After Khufu died is when his two sons came to power. The son who immediately took the throne was Djedefra, who ruled from 2528 to 2520 BC, and later on Khafra took the throne, who ruled from 2520 to 2494 BC. There is strong evidence that the two sons may have fought. Khafra is credited with building a second pyramid in the traditional style.
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The Pyramids of Giza might be the oldest international tourist sight in the world! Since the armies of Alexander the Great saw the pyramids they have fascinated the European and Asian people. What is amazing is by the time Alexander the Great saw the pyramids they were already over two thousand years old!
The popularity of the pyramids has only gone up in the last two thousand years. Today travellers can no longer climb up the pyramids and the modern city of Cairo has grown to the pyramids making it lose its lost in the desert feel. Even with those set back the Pyramids of Giza are amazing and a must see for any person interested in ruins.
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It is possible to take minibuses from Cairo or Giza to both entrances of the complex. Also, public buses 355 and 357 go the pyramids, which are large white couch buses. These buses have stops in central Cairo from the airport, Heliopolis and the Abdel Menem Riyad Station in Midan Tahrir next to the Egyptian Museum although at the last stop you might have to flag it down.
The area the pyramids cover is huge. Unless on a tour or hired a car to take you around for the day the only option is to walk. Remember that many of the lesser tombs and pyramids are poorly marked therefore bring a good map or guidebook with you. There are also very few toilet around so go to the bathroom before entering and use a bathroom when you see one, even if you don’t have to go.
For the traveller craving some western food there is now a Pizza Hut and a KFC operating across the road from the complex. In the complex itself food might be hard to find during the winter months so bring some snacks with you.
Unlike Angkor there are not hundreds of little children trying to sell you marked up bottles of water everywhere you go. Finding water in the complex can be difficult so make sure to bring plenty with you because the sun will drain you dry. It also helps to wear light color cloths, light fabric clothes and a full brim hat to keep the heat away from your skin.
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Remember that pyramid climbing is now illegal. Although some guards will turn a blind eye it is still bad. The process of climbing does lots of damage and also several tourists have lost their lives in the process of climbing.
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