Destination Landmarks: The Pyramids

Despite what many people think, pyramids are not unique to any one part of the world; Spain, Greece, India, China, Mexico and Cambodia are just some of the countries where they have been found. However, none captivate our imagination like the Egyptian pyramids. The most famous Egyptian pyramids are the ones located in Giza, just outside the Egyptian capital, Cairo. And the most famous of them is the Pyramid of Khufu also known as the Great Pyramid. Not only is it the largest, at over 4,500 years, it is also the sole remaining member of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the pyramids, one that has captivated Man’s imagination for millennia, is the mystery of their construction. The pyramids were built at a time when the wheel was unknown in Egypt. Every stone, some of which weigh as much as 20 tons, had to be transported from quarries across the desert to the site of the construction. There are 2.5 million of them in the Great Pyramid alone. Each had to be placed carefully to high degrees of mathematical precision. For all these tasks, the Egyptians had but levers and rope. Some researchers suggest that huge ramps would have been built encircling the pyramids to facilitate their construction, but no evidence of them remains. Theories abound, from the plausible to the outlandish, all based on part of the remnants of the civilization that the ancient Egyptians left behind. It seems sometimes that the ‘ancient alien’ theory has garnered more supporters than lost them in recent times.

What we know for certain is that pharaohs were revered as demi-gods on earth by their people. The alignment of the pyramids themselves as well as specific elements of their architecture to constellations and specific stars allude to the deep connection that the people had to the heavens and their pantheon. For any first-time visitor to Egypt, the Great Pyramids of the Giza Plateau are an essential part of the itinerary. However, do manage to squeeze in at least two more pyramid sites – Djoser and Dahshur. The former is the location of the Great Step Pyramid, the very first pyramid of them all (in Egypt). Dahshur is home to the Bent Pyramid, which owes its unique shape to a change of pans halfway through its construction.

Egypt is hot all year round, and the heat in the summer months between April and October is particularly intense. The November to March period is the better option by far. Egypt has seen a huge spike in Islamist terror attacks targeting tourists over the past few years but so far none have been carried out at pyramid sites. Please obtain the government’s latest travel advice when planning your trip.