Pyramids of Giza
Great Pyramid of Giza © Nina Aldin Thune
The pyramids are the earth's oldest tourist attraction and the Great Pyramid of Khufu (also referred to as the Great Pyramid of Cheops) is the only remainder of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Throughout history the pyramids have fired human imagination, with much speculation as to their origin and purpose. The most compelling theory is that they were built by the ancient Egyptian civilisation as tombs or great monuments in which to bury their kings and nobles; a place to start their mystic journey to the afterlife.
The oldest and largest pyramid, the Great Pyramid, is thought to have taken 20 years to build and is made of about two million blocks of limestone. No one knows how the two-ton blocks were moved into place, but it was known to be the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 40 centuries. The Great Sphinx, known as the Abu al-Hol (Father of Terror), stands in front of the Great Pyramid and is thought to be older than the pyramids themselves.
Tours of the pyramids are conducted by many tour operators in Giza. Access to the interior of the pyramids is restricted, and at least one is closed for renovations at any given period. While climbing the pyramids was once a popular activity, the practise has now been banned. The best time to visit the Pyramids of Giza is early in the morning, before the tour buses descend on them. While unofficial 'tour guides' lurk around the site to demand tips, better-informed guides can be booked in advance from Giza. It is often best to ask your hotel's advice on guides.
Address: Pyramid Road, 11 miles (18km) southwest of the centre
Transport: Bus 8 from Midan Tahrir