Giza Necropolis | The Site of the Pyramids of Giza
The Giza Necropolis is one of the most popular attractions in Egypt, with millions of visitors each year. Home to the Pyramids of Giza and many other ancient monuments, it is also a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Before you plan a visit, read on to find out more about what you will find at the Giza Necropolis.
What is the Giza Necropolis?
When was the Giza Necropolis Built?
The oldest of the pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built during the reign of the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, between 2550 and 2560 BC. That makes it about 4,500 years old. The second pyramid to be built, the Pyramid of Khafre, was completed in 2570 BC, and the last pyramid to be built was that of Menkaure between 2510 and 2500 BC.
Many of the tombs and cemeteries at the Giza Complex were added to after the construction of the pyramids, even during the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties (c. 2500 - 2180 BC).
Who Built the Giza Necropolis?
The Pyramids of Giza were built as royal tombs for three pharaohs from Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty (which lasted from 2575–2465 BCE). The northernmost and oldest pyramid was built for Khufu, who was the second king of this dynasty of rulers.
The middle pyramid was built for Khafre, one of Khufu’s sons, and the fourth king of this dynasty. Finally, the southernmost and last pyramid was built by Khafre’s son and successor, Menkaure.
Around these three main pyramids are a number of smaller subsidiary pyramids belonging to various royal women, including Khufu’s mother Hetepheres, and his wife Henutsen, as well as Khentkaus, daughter of Menkaure.
History of the Giza Necropolis in a Nutshell
c. 2600–2500 BC
The Giza Necropolis was once situated near the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. During the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, beginning with the Pharaoh Khufu, a series of rulers, their families, and courtiers began to build tombs there.
The ancient Egyptians believed that when a pharaoh died, they would live on in the afterlife as gods. However, first, their spirit needed to be able to reunite with their body. And to ensure this, they built enormous pyramids so that their spirits would be able to find them again. They also served as a place to store all the luxuries they wanted to use in the next world.
A number of pyramids were constructed before the mighty Pyramids of Giza. Early Egyptian rulers were buried in flat mounds known as mastabas. The mounds gradually grew taller and taller. Eventually, the Pharaoh Djoser built a Step Pyramid at Saqqara around 2670 BC. Around 2630 BC the Pharaoh Snefru, father of Khufu (who built the Great Pyramid) built the first true pyramid, the Red Pyramid at Dashur.
Inspired by this, Khufu, and later his son Khafre, and grandson Menkaure, built the three largest pyramids at the Giza Necropolis.
Giza Necropolis Location
Giza Necropolis Attractions
The Giza Necropolis, or the Giza Complex, includes many ancient wonders, including the three Pyramids of Giza, temples, burial tombs, and more.
Pyramid of Khufu
The Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a tomb for the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu and dates back to 2600 BCE. When it was completed, it was the tallest building in the world at a height of 449 feet. And, it remained so for the next 3800 years.
Pyramid of Khafre
The Pyramid of Khafre is slightly smaller than the Great Pyramid. As the second-largest pyramid, it sits at 448 feet high. It was built for Khafre, the son of Pharaoh Khufu in 2570 BC. Unfortunately, its treasures were plundered in ancient and medieval times.
Pyramid of Menkaure
The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the Giza Pyramids. It was completed around 2510 BC. Its north face was damaged during the middle ages, and the sarcophagus of the pharaoh was lost at sea during a voyage in 1838.
The Great Sphinx is a colossal statue that sits in front of the Pyramid of Khafre. It depicts a mythical creature with the head of a man, and the body of a lion. It’s said that the human face of the Great Sphinx was modeled after Pharaoh Khafre.
Near the Pyramids of the three Pharaohs, there are smaller pyramids belonging to the pharaohs’ wives, mothers, and daughters. Important ones are the tombs of Queen Khentkaus I, and Queen Hetepheres.
Every pyramid has a valley temple connected to it by a causeway. This was where the bodies of the pharaohs were prepared for burial and mummified. Today you can still see those of Khafre and Menkaure.
Attached to each pyramid is a mortuary temple, or a funerary temple. This was where priests performed daily funerary rites to worship the deceased pharaohs, and priests presented offerings of food and other items to them.
When the pyramids were built, many lesser royals and nobles chose the Giza plateau as their final resting place. Today you can see hundreds of tombs and mastabas arranged along near rows and avenues.
The thousands of workers who spent years building the pyramids also built a small community for themselves. Here you will find their barracks, as well as bakeries, breweries, kitchens, and even a rudimentary hospital.
Solar Boat Museum
Near the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the Solar Boat Museum. Also known as “Khufu's Boat Museum,” it houses a reconstruction of the pharaoh’s solar barque, the ship buried with the king to use on his journey across the heavens.
Plan Your Visit to the Giza Necropolis
Toilets: There are several public toilets at the Pyramids of Giza, available for a small fee. Look near the two ticket booths near the entrance to the Pyramid Complex.
Baby Changing facilities: While there are no baby changing facilities inside the Pyramids of Giza complex, you will find several options near the attraction.
Shopping: Visitors can purchase gifts and souvenirs from the shops located near the Pyramids of Giza.
Guided Tours: While it is possible to find guides at the entrance to the pyramids, it is better to plan in advance and opt for a guided tour, or engage a registered guide.
- You cannot climb on any of the pyramids as it is both forbidden and dangerous.
- Egypt can get very hot during the summer months, so ensure that you carry plenty of water with you.
- To protect yourself from the harsh sun, wear sunscreen, and carry sunglasses or a hat.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you will have to do a lot of walking.
- If you’re planning to explore inside the pyramids, the passageways and galleries inside the pyramids are very narrow, especially if you suffer from claustrophobia.
- If you have purchased discounted tickets, please carry your valid photo ID for verification.
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Frequently Asked Questions About the Giza Necropolis
A. The Giza Necropolis is situated in the Sahara Desert, in the Giza Governorate, to the west of the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
A. The Giza Necropolis was the final resting place of many kings and queens of ancient Egypt.
A. The Giza Necropolis and the three Pyramids of Giza were built as tombs, where the dead pharaohs who ruled over Ancient Egypt were buried along with the various items they would need in the afterlife.
A. The Giza Necropolis was built by pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty to house their magnificent pyramids, as well as the tombs of their queens and nobles.
A. The Giza Necropolis started being built around 4,600 years ago. The oldest building on the Giza Plateau is the Great Pyramid of Khufu, which dates back to c.2600 BC.
A. There are three big pyramids of the pharaohs at the Giza Necropolis, as well as around 7 smaller subsidiary pyramids of queens and other royal women.
A. The pyramids are the tombs of the Pharaohs. They are filled with are many chambers including the King's Chamber where you will find the sarcophagus.
A. Yes, you can enter all the three Pyramids of Giza, as well as a number of the Queen’s Pyramids.
A. The pyramids are open seven days a week from 8 AM - 5 PM in the summer and 8 AM - 4 PM in the winter.
A. Yes. Tickets to the Pyramids of Giza are available here.