Giza is best known as that part of Cairo closest to the world-famous Pyramids of Giza
Situated high on the desert plateau immediately to the west of the urban district, itself located in the valley and centred around the Pyramids Road, linking central Cairo with the ancient wonders. One of the premier attractions of Egypt, if not the world, the Pyramids of Giza represent the archetypal pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilisation and – together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau – are the iconic image of Egypt.
The desert plateau of Giza, adjacent to the Pyramids, will eventually form the site of the Grand Museum of Egypt (the competition-winning design conceived by an Irish architectural team led by Shih-Fu Peng), the long-awaited primary replacement for the long-standing Egyptian Museum in Midan Tahrir.
Not much more than a century ago, the Pyramids Road existed as little more than a dusty carriage track amongst irrigated fields, leading out from the city to the then small peasant village of Giza adjoining the pyramid field. Given the rapidly increasing population of Cairo in the 20th century, and the obvious tourist opportunities that the Pyramids provided, Giza has now been transformed beyond recognition to those pioneering Western travellers of the late 19th century. Major arterial roads, apartment blocks, retail strips, restaurants and night clubs now replace what used to be palm-fringed farmers’ fields, and the city has now spread to the very limit of the desert plateau. Such rapid development, of course, has not been without its costs – social, economic and aesthetic – and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is now making some efforts to control and channel future (re)development in areas closest to the Pyramids themselves.
To See & Do
All the worthwhile attractions within the Giza area are concentrated on the Giza Plateau at the end of Pyramids Road. Some people are shocked to travel down a street in Giza and see the tip of a Pyramid rise up over the golden arches of a McDonalds with a sign in Arabic – your idea of pyramids rising up out of an empty desert might not match the reality.
There are two ticket offices: the first is near the main entrace, the second – near Sphinx, in the eastern part of the Plateau. If you use the second one in the morning you will avoid crowds of tourists and will have a possibility to explore the Sphinx area all alone in silence. Entry to the site is LE 60, and to enter the pyramids themselves costs another LE 30 for the Pyramid of Menkaure and LE 100 for the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Student IDs will come in handy, giving you a 50% discount. The interior of the pyramids is hot, humid and somewhat claustrophobic, with the passages steep, dusty and hard to move through, and those with any heart or lung issues or a physical handicap will want to steer clear. There are only 2 pyramids open to the public at any given time, while the third pyramid is being restored and they rotate every 2 years. For those willing to brave these conditions, however, it may be an interesting and educational experience. Personally witnessing the interior walls and passage ways of the pyramids gives one an even deeper appreciation of the tremendous achievement accomplished by the builders of these ancient structures. No cameras are allowed into the pyramids. For those on a tight budget, visiting the Pyramid of Menkaure is a very similar experience to visiting the larger pyramid and cheaper.
The Pyramids of Egypt • Locations & Activities