On my first visit to Cairo we had lunch in a restaurant just in front of the Pyramids. I don’t remember what I ate, I was mesmerized. There, just in front of me were the Pyramids! The restaurant is in the Mena House, a beautiful hotel built in 1869.
After lunch I went to the reception and asked for their brochure. While tucking it into my bag I told myself that one day I will come to stay here. I did in February of 2012, for 5 days. It stretched my budget a little, but what is money compared to sleeping in the shadow of the Pyramids?
I arrived at night, 11.30 pm. I had been promised a room with a view of the Pyramids. When I came to my room and stepped onto the balcony, there was just darkness.
“Where are the Pyramids?” I asked the young man who had brought my luggage. Pointing into the dark, he said, “Right there.”
“But I can’t see anything!”
“You will in the morning,” he assured me. I was not convinced. How can something so big not be visible, even in the dark?
I did not sleep much that night. I got up several times and when finally there was a glimmer of daylight – two enormous shapes emerged from the darkness. This has happened every morning since 2560 B.C. when the biggest, and the first of the three Pyramids of the Giza Plateau was finished.
It was built for Pharaoh Khufu (also called Cheops).It took 23 years to complete. And NO it was not built by slaves. Modern Egyptologists and historians believe that it took about 20,000 people to build the Great Pyramid. They were farmers and villagers who gathered at Giza to work for their god kings, which they believed would also ensure their own afterlife.
Khufu was one of the most famous pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. It is surprising, therefore, that, besides his tomb, the Great Pyramid at Giza, all we have of him is a small statue, 3″ tall. It was found in Abydos. His name, written on the back of it, confirms that it is Khufu. It is now in the Cairo Museum. If you want to see it, you really have to look for it because it is in a dark, obscure case, not prominently displayed – but what else, besides the biggest pyramid ever built, do you need to be remembered?
Giza’s Pyramid Complex is more than just Khufu’s pyramid. There is the pyramid of Khafre, Khufu’s son, as well as his son’s Menkaure, and lots of smaller ones which were built for royal wifes and other family members.
The highlight of my visits to Egypt is spending time at the Giza Plateau. The enormity of it all and its endurance for more than 5000 years make me feel humble, and I feel like I have come home.
On my last evening I ordered room service because I did not want to waste the last chance to enjoy my room with a view. — and when I left the next morning I put the two roses I had received when I arrived, on the balcony. It was my way of saying ‘thank you.’
The Egyptian writer Ibn Fadlallah Al-Umari (1301 – 1349) described the Secret of the Pyramids this way
All things fear Time, but Time fears the Pyramids
More from Egypt soon
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