People marvel over the Pyramids because they are huge, and precisely built, and really old. It was at some point so inconceivable that man could have built them and other pyramid-type structures around the globe, that people theorize(d) aliens visited Earth and built them. In fact, pretty much the whole reason you go to Egypt is to see them, and then have an educated alien versus slave debate. Interestingly, our guides weighed in on neither slave nor alien, but straight-up Egyptian craftsmen. Why would a pharaoh let a slave work on what would surely be his most important and lasting monument. Wouldn’t you want the best and brightest building your pyramid?
As I mentioned in my post on Cairo, the Pyramids arise unexpectedly out of the smoggy haze. We arrived close to midday, so the glare and heat (even in December) made for a grumpy Dylan and poor photography.
We learned there are hundreds of pyramids in Egypt, built in many different styles. The ones, of course, with which people are most familiar are those on the Giza Platform on the west bank of the Nile. The largest of the three pyramids, The Great Pyramid (or Khufu or Cheops), is the largest pyramid and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was built around 2500 BC. It was surreal to see how large the pyramids were when standing at their base. They are massive. Looking up, all you see is more steps, and at the top you can see the smooth stone surface that once covered the entire pyramid. We were not able to go inside, so we climbed around amidst the police, the barkers, and camels.
After the Great Pyramid, we moved along to the viewing platform which was pretty much just another place for someone to try to sell us something. It was the edge of the city and beginning of the desert. From there all you could see was sand. Hot sand. Dylan, beginning allergic to heat, insisted that we move along to the Sphinx . The Sphinx was lovely. Sitting lazily at the base of the pyramids, like it has for thousands of years, the Sphinx was not bothered at all by the heat.
I can’t really explain what it is like to be in the presence of things that you have heard about and seen in pictures for your entire life. Unlike Karnak and other sites which are humbling because of their scale alone, the pyramids and Sphinx are timeless and almost magical in a way that I have never experienced. While our time in Egypt was rushed and sometimes unpleasant, it was worth it for the few hot hours we spent dragging Dylan across the sands.
Visit here for more pictures of the day.