The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering present-day Giza in Greater Cairo, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.
Based on a mark in an interior chamber naming the work gang and a reference to the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu, Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10- to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. Initially standing at 146.5 metres (481 feet), the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years until Lincoln Cathedral was finished in 1311 AD. It is estimated that the pyramid weighs approximately 6 million tonnes, and consists of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite, some weighing as much as 80 tonnes. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by limestone casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories about the Great Pyramid's construction techniques. Most accepted construction hypotheses are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.
Giza is a Governorate to the west of the Egyptian capital Cairo - a city in its own right, but for a long time now absorbed as part of the heavily-populated and sprawling Cairo metropolis. Giza is best known as that part of Cairo closest to the world-famous Pyramids of Giza, situated high on the desert plateau immediately to the west of the urban district, itself located in the valley and centred around the Pyramids Road, linking central Cairo with the ancient wonders. One of the premier attractions of Egypt, if not the world, the Pyramids of Giza represent the archetypal pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilisation and - together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau - are the iconic image of Egypt.
History of The Great Pyramids of Giza
The three main Pyramids of Giza are the focal point of the Giza necropolis, or cemetery, that served the elite of the Old Kingdom capital of Egypt at nearby Memphis during the mid to late 4th Dynasty (late 3rd millennium BCE). Three pharaohs were buried here in turn - Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure - their astounding burials attracted a number of surrounding, associated, burials of their queens, family members and nobility.
Egyptologists believe the pyramid was built as a tomb for the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu (often Hellenized as "Cheops") and was constructed over a 20-year period. Khufu's vizier, Hemiunu (also called Hemon), is believed by some to be the architect of the Great Pyramid. It is thought that, at construction, the Great Pyramid was originally 146.6 metres (481.0 ft) tall, but with the removal of its original casing, its present height is 137 metres (449.5 ft). The lengths of the sides at the base are difficult to reconstruct, given the absence of the casing, but recent analyses put them in a range between 230.26 metres (755.4 ft) and 230.44 metres (756.0 ft). The volume, including an internal hillock, is roughly 2,300,000 cubic metres (81,000,000 cu ft).
The first precision measurements of the pyramid were made by Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880–82 and published as The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh. Almost all reports are based on his measurements. Many of the casing-stones and inner chamber blocks of the Great Pyramid fit together with extremely high precision. Based on measurements taken on the north-eastern casing stones, the mean opening of the joints is only 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in) wide. The pyramid remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, unsurpassed until the 160-metre-tall (520 ft) spire of Lincoln Cathedral was completed c. 1300.
General accommodation options are somewhat limited within the Giza district - most travellers tend to stay in and around central Cairo itself and travel out to the Pyramids for at least part of the day. Although Giza is an option if you want a more laid back vibe and your fine with doing day-trips in to Cairo to see the sights. For people determined to stay in close vicinity and / or for whom cost is no issue, although cheaper options are springing up, there are a number of very comfortable options:
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