We had been looking at the Pyramids for two days from our hotel room, and at last it was time to go check them out in person. They did not disappoint. Anyone who stands at the foot of these things can’t help but feel humble.
So what’s the deal with the Pyramids anyway? Well, they were built as funerary monuments over 4,000 years ago. They were not built by aliens or by slaves, but by people devoted to the idea that their divine pharaoh would rise again after he died, and would need a whole bunch of stuff in order to return as a god and resume ruling the kingdom. I was all set to climb to the top, but they strictly forbid it. It used to be allowed until some careless tourist went and fell off and died. Stupid safety regulations!
The largest is the Great Pyramid of Khufu (also called Cheops by the Greeks who had no respect for someone else’s name in their native language.) The blocks on this pyramid are perfectly cut and seamlessly aligned together with no mortar at all.
Next is that of his son, Khafre. This one still has some of its original white limestone casing attached at the top. It definitely had a look of ancient mysticism about it, and was our favorite.
And finally the smallest was built by Khafre’s son Menkaure. (Remember him? He used to hang out with Hathor.) This one is different in that it was cased in granite rather than white limestone – some of which is still there today. We opted to go inside this one. I can honestly say that the pyramids are much more amazing from the outside. Inside was nothing but a steep ramp leading to a now-empty burial chamber. There is no ornamentation whatsoever – no hieroglyphics, no torches set in wall sconces, no secret passageways, and no marauding mummies. Nonetheless, it was pretty flingin’-flangin’ awesome being INSIDE one of the pyramids. But as seems to be somewhat common in Cairo, we weren’t allowed to bring a camera in.
After having our fill of pyramids, it was on to the Sphinx. The Sphinx (again named by the Greeks) is thought to be the face of Khafre (the middle pyramid). Whoever he once was, he was more than happy to pose for a few photos.
So what happened to his nose? It turns out that after 4000 years, some very religious Muslim guy or another was so mad that the peasants were making offerings to the Sphinx, that in a fit of anger he ordered the nose hacked off. Don’t worry, he was hanged for vandalism.
Based on the recommendation of a friend of ours, we took a trip to Khan Khalili – the local bazaar. Now, I just love these Arab markets. I could spend all day getting lost in the maze of alleyways, and haggling for things that I don’t need. This time however, we shopped only for Stephanie. I say she owes me one 😉
You would think it couldn’t get much better than Cairo (we could look at the pyramids while relaxing in the pool!), but this was just the beginning. Egypt got more fantastic as our trip progressed. Meet us in Aswan, and we’ll tell you more.