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The Pyramids & The Sphinx

On the west bank of the Nile facing Cairo and on top of Giza plateau rise the three pyramids erected by Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus, guarded by the mysterious Sphinx, which is a mythical statue with the body of a lion and a human head. The three pyramids and the Sphinx are considered one of the seven wonders of the World and the most important tourist site in Egypt.
The ancient Egyptian’s aim in building the pyramids was that they should serve as sepulchers for their Pharaohs to preserve their bodies, for they believed in resurrection and immortality.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops
King Khufu, who is also known by the Greek name "Cheops," was the father of pyramid building at Giza. He ruled from 2589 - 2566 B.C. and was the son of King Sneferu and Queen Hetpeheres.
The pyramid was built in 2589-2566 B.C. and consists of 2,300,000 limestone and granite blocks of stone. The base is 13 square acres, 568,500 square feet. The length of each side of the base is now 745 feet but used to be 754 feet. Total weight of this pyramid is 6.5 million tons. The average weight of an individual block of stone is 2.5 tons. The height of Cheops was originally 146 meters, but has now become 137 meters after the erosion of its summit. Going inside the pyramid, there is two corridors, one ascending and the other descending. The latter leading to an unfinished chamber below the pyramid. The ascending corridor leads to another two corridors. The horizontal one takes us to the semi-finished limestone Queen’s chamber. The ascending one drives us through the Great Gallery to the King’s chamber. Until recently the pyramid was thought to contain only these three chambers, however in 1993, a German team accidentally discovered a door which handles supposedly enclosing a fourth chamber.Close to the eastern flank of the pyramid lie three small pyramids dedicated either to his wives or family member, each with a small chapel attached.

The Pyramid of Chephren
Sited on higher ground, with an intact summit and steeper sites, the middle or the Second Pyramid seems taller than Khufu’s. It is Built by his son King Khafre , who is also known by the Greek name "Chephren”. He ruled from 2520 until 2494 B.C. This pyramid was built of red granite and limestone in 2558-2532 B.C. The base is 704 feet on each side and covers an area of 11 acres. The average weight of each stone is 2.5 tons, some of the larger blocks weight as much as 7 tons. The height is 446 feet and the angle of incline is 53 degrees. Its interior is simple with two entrances on the north side. It contains two chambers. It had an exterior covering of fine-grain limestone. Now, only a small part of this covering remains.
Khafre may be best known for his statues, and most famous among them is, of course, the Sphinx.
This complex includes not only the Sphinx, but also a Mortuary Temple and a Valley Temple.

The Pyramid of Mycerinus
Sited on a gradual slope into undulating desert, the smallest of the Giza Pyramids speaks of waning power and commitment. Though started by Chephren’s successor and Khufu's grandson, Menkaure, called Mycerinus by the Greeks, who ruled from 2490 - 2472 B.C, it was finished with unseemly haste by his son Shepsaskaf, who seemingly enjoyed less power than his predecessors and depended on the priesthood.
The structure is estimated to contain 200,000 blocks. The lower wall of the pyramid is encased in a layer of granite. The base is 344 feet on each side and it is 203 feet in height with an angle incline of 51 degrees. The interior is unusual in having its unfinished chamber in the superstructure and the final burial chamber underground.
The complex also features three subsidiary pyramids, a relatively intact funerary temple and a cause-way to the now-buried valley temple.

The Sphinx
This legendary monument is carved from an outcrop of soft limestone. It depicts the body of a lion and a human face, which the scholars believe that it closely resembles that of Chephren. The exact date of building the Sphinx is unknown. The base is 187 feet in length and the width of the face is 20 feet. The total height is 66 feet. The sphinx faces the rising sun with a temple to the front which resembles the sun temples which were built later by the kings of the 5th Dynasty.
In the 1980's, a carefully planned restoration of the Sphinx was in progress. Over 6 years, more than 2,000 limestone blocks were added to the body of the sphinx and chemicals were injected. This treatment did not work and specialists are studying how to prevent the crumbling of the magnificent monument.


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