Pyramid of Menkaure

The Pyramid of Menkaure | The Last Pyramid of Giza

The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the Pyramids of Giza, at just 62 meters tall. Located to the southwest of the other two Pyramids of Giza, it was built by the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Menkaure during the 26th century BC.

Of the three Pyramids of Giza, it is the only one that doesn't retain any of its original polished limestone casing. Rad on to find out more about this ancient tomb.

What is the Pyramid of Menkaure?

menkaure pyramid

Menkaure's pyramid complex was the last of the major pyramids built on the Giza Plateau, and was completed around 2510 BC,. It was built to serve as the tomb of the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure, who succeeded his father Khafre to the throne.

The pyramid complex has the king's pyramid, as well as a valley temple, a causeway, a mortuary temple, and three subsidiary or queen's pyramids.

Parts of the pyramid were left rough and unfinished, leading archaeologists to believe that construction was rushed, likely due to the early death of the pharaoh.

Menkaure and the Pyramids of Giza

pyramid of menkaure

Who Was the Pharaoh Menkaure?

Menkaure was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh and the fifth ruler of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom. The son of the pharaoh Khafre and Queen Khamerernebty I, he succeeded his father to the throne. While the length of Menkaure's reign is uncertain, it is thought to have begun around 2530 BC. 

He is also known by the Greek name Mykerinos, and is most famous for his tomb, the Pyramid of Menkaure at Giza.

Menkaure is thought to have had at least two wives, Queen Khamerernebty II and Queen Rekhetre, and several of his half brothers (including Nebemakhet, Duaenre, and Nikaure) served as viziers during his reign.

Pyramid of Menkaure

Building the Pyramid of Menkaure

The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three main pyramids at Giza. It’s square base measures 103 meters (339 feett) along each side, and it stands at a height of and 62 meters (215 feet). 

The unfinished nature of the granite blocks indicate that Menkaure died before the structure was finished. It’s likely that the pyramid was completed around 2510 BC, by Shepseskaf,  Menkaure’s successor. 

The pyramid was built using millions of blocks of limestone and granite. The pyramid builders included between 5,000 to 20,000 workers and their families who were all housed on the Giza plateau.

How to Visit the Pyramid of Menkaure

To see the Pyramid of Menkaure you can visit the Giza Necropolis. The site is home to the three famous Pyramids of Giza. Its opening hours are from 8 AM – 5 PM in the summer months and 8 AM – 4 PM in the winter months. You can also explore inside Menkaure’s Pyramid, but you might need to purchase an extra ticket for EGP 100. 

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Where is the Pyramid of Menkaure Located?

Pyramid of Menkaure

About the Pyramid of Menkaure

Pyramid of Menkaure
Pyramid of Giza

Excavations of the Pyramid of Menkaure

The first excavations of Menkaure’s Pyramid in the modern era began in 1817,  supervised by Giovanni Belzoni. But it was not until 1837 that the first big discovery was made when Egyptologist Howard Vyse found two sarcophagi inside the pyramid. Sadly the one likely belonging to Menkaure was lost at sea in 1838 on the way to England. The other sarcophagus, which was made of wood and heavily decorated, can be found in the British Museum. 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, George Reisner excavated the largely ignored Valley Temple where he found a large number of beautifully carved statues of Menkaure flanked by the goddess Hathor and Bat, which proclaimed his authority as king.

Pyramid of Menkaure
Pyramid of Menkaure

Menkaure’s Queens

South of the Pyramid of Menkaure are three more small Queens’ Pyramids. While it remains unclear who is buried there, these pyramids may have been the resting places of the king's wife Khamerernebty II, and possibly his half-sister, Shepsetkau. 

Another of Menkaure’s wives, Rekhetre, is buried in the Central Field of the Giza Necropolis.

Near the valley temple of Menkaure, is the tomb of Khentkaus, Menkaure’s daughter. It is much larger than the other Queen’s pyramids and has its own boat pit, valley temple, and living quarters for priests.

Interesting Facts About the Pyramid of Menkaure

  • Menkaure’s pyramid is the smallest of the Pyramids of Giza and is dwarfed by those of his father and grandfather. 
  • The pyramid’s base is a rough square that measures 102 by 104 meters (335 feet by 343 feet), and it rises up to a height of 62 meters (200 feet). 
  • Originally, Menkaure’’s Pyramid was 66 meters or 213 feet tall but has shrunk over the millennia due to the loss of its outer casing of white limestone. 
  • Some of the granite casing blocks near the entrance of the Pyramid of Menkaure were left unfinished, probably due to the early death of the pharaoh.
  • British Egyptologist Howard Vyse discovered a carved granite sarcophagus inside the pyramid in 1837, but it was removed and subsequently lost at sea.
  • In 1197 AD, a Sultan of Egypt attempted to demolish the Pyramid of Menkaure but eventually had to give up as it was just too expensive.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Pyramid of Menkaure

Q. What is the Pyramid of Menkaure?

A. The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three main pyramids of Giza. It was built as the tomb of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure.

Q. Who built the Pyramid of Menkaure?

A. The Pyramid of Menkaure was built by Pharaoh Menkaure in the 26th century BC. He was the fifth pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom.

Q. How did the Pyramid of Menkaure get damaged?

A. The Pyramid of Menkaure was damaged in 1196 AD by Al Aziz Uthman, the Sultan of Egypt. He tried to demolish the Pyramids of Giza, but had to give up due to the cost. However, his workers left a long gash on the northern face of the Pyramid of Menkaure.

Q. What is inside the Pyramid of Menkaure?

A. The inside of the Pyramid of Menkaure has a number of chambers with carved with decorative panels. The burial chamber is lined with granite blocks and once contains the king’s black stone sarcophagus.

Q. Can you go inside the Pyramid of Menkaure?

A. Yes, you can go inside the Pyramid of Menkaure. However, depending on your ticket, you might have to pay an additional fee to enter the pyramid.

Q. When did Menkaure build this pyramid?

A. The Pharaoh Menkaure built this iconic pyramid in the 26th century BC, likely between 2530-2510 BC.

Q. How tall is the Pyramid of Menkaure?

A. While it is the smallest of the three Pyramids of Giza, Menkaure’s Pyramid stands at 62 meters (or 213 feet) tall.

Q. Can I buy tickets to visit the Pyramid of Menkaure?

A. Yes, you can buy your tickets to visit the Pyramid of Menkaure online here.