The Pyramid of Khufu | The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Pyramid of Khufu, also called the Great Pyramid of Giza, is the oldest pyramid in the Giza Plateau. It was built for the pharaoh Khufu in the 26th century BC. Today, it is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still remains intact. Read more to learn about this ancient wonder.
What is the Great Pyramid of Giza?
The Great Pyramid of Giza was the first of the pyramids to be built on the Giza Plateau. It was built as a tomb for the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Khufu over a period of around 27 years. It is believed that Khufu's cousin and vizier, Hemiunu was the architect of the Great Pyramid.
Construction of the Great Pyramid was completed around 2560 BC, and it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
Khufu and the Great Pyramid of Giza
Who Was the Pharaoh Khufu?
Khufu (c.2589–2566 BC) was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh and the second ruler of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdon. He was the son of Queen Hetepheres and the Pharaoh Sneferu, who was responsible for building the first true pyramid, the Red Pyramid at Dashur. Khufu is also known by his Greek name Cheops and is most famous for designing the Great Pyramid at Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Khufu ruled for over 20 years and began work on the Great Pyramid of Giza almost as soon as he assumed the throne. Most of the information about Khufu comes from a few inscriptions at Giza and later documents by Greek historians written over 2,000 years after his death.
How Was the Great Pyramid of Khufu Built?
The Great Pyramid of Giza was built using over 2.3 million blocks of stone, some of which weighed more than 80 tons. Khufu’s pyramid was constructed of limestone and granite which was often quarried at Giza. However, as detailed in a 4,500-year-old papyrus by a supervisor called Merer, some stones were transported by boat from far away sites like Tura and Aswan.
The inner chambers are of red granite blocks, while the outer core is of yellow sandstone, and was once covered by a casing of fine white limestone. A workforce of about 20,000 lived on-site for over 20 years and helped build the pyramid.
How to Visit the Great Pyramid of Giza
Plan a visit to the Giza Necropolis, where you can see the Great Pyramid of Khufu within the Giza complex. The site’s opening hours are from 8 AM – 5 PM in the summer months and 8 AM – 4 PM in the winter months. Don’t miss the experience of climbing through the ancient structure. You can explore inside the Great Pyramid, though you might need to purchase an extra ticket for EGP 400.
Where is the Great Pyramid of Giza Located?
About the Great Pyramid of Khufu
Excavations of Khufu's Pyramid
The very first restorations of the Pyramid of Khufu were done by later pharaohs of the New Kingdom, including Amenhotep II. Unfortunately, throughout antiquity the pyramid was looted several times, including by Caliph al-Mamun in 820 AD.
The first modern traveler to see the inside of Khufu’s pyramid was an English traveler, Nathaniel Davison in 1765. Following this, there was the first real excavation, led by Giovanni Belzoni, and later continued in 1835 by Colonel Vyse, who discovered four additional chambers.
In the 20th century, the cemeteries next to the pyramid were excavated leading to the discovery of the tomb of Queen Hetepheres and two boat pits containing the king’s funeral ships.
To the east of the Great Pyramid of Khufu's, there three small pyramids, some just 20m high. These are the tombs of Khufu’s wives and sisters, popularly known as the Queens' Pyramids.
They include the Pyramid of Hetepheres I, Khufu’s mother, and the Queens Meritites and Henutsen, his wives.
The Pyramid of Hetepheres was discovered in 1925, along with her burial shaft nearby. Her tomb was filled with her luxurious grave treasures, including a gold covered bed and palanquins, decorated armchairs, and more. These items can now be seen in the Cairo Museum.
Interesting Facts About the Pyramid of Khufu
- The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one that remains intact today.
- The pyramid is 138 meters (454 feet) tall, with a square base whose sides measure 230 meters (755 feet) each.
- The Great Pyramid initially stood at 146.5 meters (481 feet) high, and held the record for the man-made tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years, until the construction of Lincoln Cathedral in England in 1311.
- It was built using around 2.3 million blocks of stone, and these consist of approximately 5.5 million tons of limestone, and 8,000 tons of granite
- The Pyramid of Khufu was once covered in a casing that was made of white limestone, that was so highly polished that it would reflect the sun’s rays. However, this has now disappeared.
- The Great Pyramid is surrounded by several buildings including several smaller, subsidiary, queens’ pyramids, mastaba tombs for nobility and other family members, buried boats, and a pair of temples.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Great Pyramid of Khufu
A. The Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid of Giza is an iconic symbol of ancient Egypt. Situated on the Giza plateau near the city of Cairo, it was built over a 20-year period over 4,500 years ago.
A. The Pyramid of Khufu was built as a tomb for the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh Khufu and was built during the 26th century BC.
A. Yes, it is. The Pyramid of Khufu is also known as the Great Pyramid of Giza and is the oldest and the largest pyramid on the Giza Plateau.
A. The Pyramid of Khufu stands as a testament to the skills of the ancient Egyptians and the vision and power of the Pharaoh Khufu himself.
A. The inside of the Pyramid of Khufu features three known chambers that housed the king’s sarcophagus along with his treasures. Three smaller queen's pyramids and two boat pits are also associated with Khufu.
A. Yes, visitors are allowed to visit the inside of the Pyramid of Khufu. You can go in through the “Robber’s Tunnel” through the Grand Gallery, and to the King’s Chamber.
A. Today, the Pyramid of Khufu stands at 138.5 meters (or 454.4 feet) tall.
A. Khufu’s Pyramid, otherwise known as the Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the largest and the oldest pyramids in the Giza complex. It is also the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.