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The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Pyramids. Those were the two things I wanted to see when I was a child. I thought I would never make it, but have walked across one and been to the centre of the other three times. One is a bridge. The other is burned into my mind with such clarity it makes me smile to think of it. I think that four visits to the Great Pyramid probably gives me some good experiences to pass on, so here goes… Many people think of “the pyramids”, and no more. In fact there are nine pyramids on the plateau at Giza, and several more besides. If you visit one pyramid in your life, you must go to the Great pyramid of Khufu. “Cheops” is the Greek name for “Khufu”, so this op is about the pyramid of Cheops and the pyramid of Khufu. They are one and the same structure. -- THE GREAT PYRAMID OF KHUFU -- What is it? A 149m tall pyramid built of stone. Each side is 250m long. In the middle of the sides the angle of climb is around 45 degrees. Does this do this mountain of stone justice? Not at all. It is enormous, gargantuan, massive, huge, imposing and overwhelming. When you are standing 50m away it totally dominates your field of vision. I have a photo with around 50 rows of the pyramid in view, and no sign of the edges. The people look like ants and the pyramid looks like an impossible wall of gigantic dimensions. The mind boggles at the ability of mankind to build it using only levers and sledges. The pyramid was built around 5000 years ago (though noone is sure) and was once faced in polished white limestone. It would not have had the stepped structure we see today, and would have reflected the sun for many tens of kilometres. Inside the pyramid are several tunnels and chambers. More on them below. Inside They now sell a limited number of tickets for the inside of the Great pyramid. 150 each morning and evening. This is to prevent long term damage to the interior – the salt from the sweat of thousands of tourists was starting to eat away the ancient stone. Buy the tickets, then go and have a walk down to the (not very interesting) Sphinx. Come back after an hour or so and visit then. The rush will be over and you will have the pyramid to yourself. There are three main chambers, and you can generally only visit two, but these are not the highlight of the interior. The best thing is the “Grand Gallery” which is made of black granite and is 8m tall stepping in as it goes up. The gallery is on quite a slope, but it is easy to get disoriented because there is no horizon. It is lit in weird orange light and is quite atmospheric. The first of the two chambers you can visit is the “Queen’s” chamber. It is reached along a 50m(?) long, 1m square tunnel. It is pretty cramped, and the chamber is not that interesting. It has a couple of alcoves and nothing else. There is a lot of Napoleonic graffiti on the roof drawn in smoke from candles(?) which is common all over Egypt. The second chamber is the “King’s” Chamber. This is reached through the grand gallery, and is a simple oblong room with a sarcophagus inside. Interestingly the sarcophagus is too big to fit through the door, so must have been built in. Climbing the Pyramid This is expressly forbidden, and when it was allowed some 20+ people died a year trying to get to the top. It is a steep, difficult climb. If you want to climb it, early morning is NOT the best time. It is well policed and you stick out like a sore thumb. If you were to make it (and were braver than I) the best time is probably mid-day when noone expects it, and noone is looking up. Though you would have to be mad to attempt it then in my opinion. I expect that in ten years or so there will be steps cut in to the pyramid and you will pay £50 to climb. I will be the first up! The Funeral Barge The biggest jigsaw puzzle in history was found by the pyramid. It was complete 5000 year old wooden funeral barge, in pieces. Perfectly preserved, it has been reassembled and sits behind the Great Pyramid. It is definately worth the (extra) entrance fee and the silly slippers you have to wear. The Great Debate – How was it built? Levers or ramps? You must be mad if you think it was constructed using ramps. The ramp would be three times the volume of the pyramid by the time it was complete, and how could you possibly build such a perfect structure without being able to see all four sides at all times? Also, the stone came from close by the pyramid. A 2000m ramp would mean that the stone would have to be taken all the way to the start of the ramp, then dragged up. No chance in my opinion. Levers are the only way it could be done. When you look at some of the lower blocks on the pyramid of Menkaure you can still see the knobs on the stones that were left for the lever to get a hold of. Levers are simple, powerful, and easy to supply. I can see no other way that the pyramid was built. Myths and Legends There are many people who think that the pyramid is: - A landing pad for alien space crafts. - A device for predicting the future (by measuring the corridors) - A granary built by the Israelites. - etc. This is all stuff and nonsense… My belief is that the pyramids were built as an act of faith by a people who believed that if the pharoh gained eternal life, so would they. Slaves could not have built such a perfect structure, only commited artisans could have pulled it all together. That is all for now. Want to know more? Write a comment and I will follow up.
located in Giza.