The Pyramids of Giza are among the most famous, mysteriously intriguing man-made structures on the planet. Built over 4000 years ago, when Egypt was actually one of the world’s most powerful civilizations, the role of the pyramids was to represent the unique role that the king (or pharaoh) played in ancient Egyptian society. They were also a place of worship in his name when he died.
The Pyramids are located on the west bank of the Nile River, not too far outside Cairo. The largest and oldest of the three Giza pyramids is the only remaining structure out of the renowned seven wonders of the ancient world. The Great Pyramid’s base is roughly 755 feet (230 meters) and its original height was roughly 481 feet (147 meters). It was built for the Pharaoh Khufu who reigned for 23 years from 2589-2566 BCE.

What’s Known About the Great Pyramid of Khufu

Great Pyramid of Khufu

Around 2.3 million stone blocks weighing between 2 and 15 tons each were quarried, cut, transported and assembled to build the Great Pyramid. It took about 20 years to build and required the labor of 100,000 men, who were documented to be both slaves and local farmers.

The Great Pyramid was also covered with white Tura limestone when finished, which in its prime would have been a spectacular sight in the middle of the Egyptian desert. These smooth, slanting sides represented the sun’s rays and were intended to help the pharaoh’s soul arise to join the gods, chiefly the sun god Ra.

The ancient Egyptians held the belief that when a pharaoh died, part of his spirit—known as “ka”—would remain in his body, and to care for it they were mummified and buried with gold vessels, food, furniture, and other offerings to comfort them in the afterlife.

How Was The Great Pyramid Constructed?

Although there is no definitive proof available for how the pyramids were actually constructed, most theories suggest that teams of men moved each block up large ramps that were continually increased in length, to match the pyramid’s growing height.

Other theories include construction by alien life forms; architecture and construction by Noah, who built the Ark; visitors from Atlantis built the Pyramids; and that a conglomerate of Atlanteans, Egyptians, and Russians built the pyramids using levitation.

The Pyramids Today

More than 4,000 years later, the pyramids still remain majestic, and provide a preview of the country’s rich and glorious past.

The Sphinx with Great Pyramid in the background

The Great Pyramid is filled with a network of tunnels, passages, and chambers that would have housed the Pharaoh’s granite sarcophagus. Tourists can visit inside the pyramid, where a number of narrow tunnels lead into the Grand Gallery, which is a long passage crafted by very skillful masons. Beyond the Grand Gallery is the Tomb Chamber encompassing the open, now-empty granite sarcophagus of Khufu.

Three much smaller pyramids, built for Khufu’s queens, stand beside the Great Pyramid. There two other large pyramids nearby, and Egypt’s most distinguished features are guarded by the eternally calm Sphinx. These structures have intrigued travelers for centuries, and today they continue to remain one of the most-visited tourist attractions on the planet.