More Pyramids and a cold night in Cairo
Nov 18, 2010
Dec 19, 2010
Today we get visit some of the lesser known sites of Cairo. Our day started with the a visit to the step pyramid in Saqqara. This was the original pyramid, built by Imhotep for King Zoser. This is the worlds oldest stone monument, constructed around 2700 BC as a final resting place for the king. Originally it was just one level, called a "mastaba," and was built into a pyramid shape adding five more levels on top of the original. They are in the process of restoring it right now so there is a lot of scaffolding surrounding it. We also got to explore some of the ruins around the area. There was another, smaller pyramid structure that did not stand the test of time like the step pyramid. Treza, our guide, explained that this one was built in the 6th dynasty and the local economy was not as good so the pyramid was not built as strong. Now it is mostly rubble, fallen in on itself it looks like a big sand pile. After the step pyramid we went Memphis. This was the original capital city of Egypt. Memphis is now a small outdoor museum with a handful of statues and artifacts on display. We saw a really large statue of Ramses II, the second largest Sphinx which may have belonged to queen Hatshepsut. Then we left Memphis and headed to Dahshur. There are two pyramids in this area, one is known as the "bent" pyramid and the other is called the "red" pyramid. The bent pyramid is actually the first true pyramid constructed, meaning the first smooth sided pyramid. It is called the bent pyramid because about half way to the top they changed the angle of the pyramid from 54 degrees to 43 degrees. They did this because the slope was too steep and the stones were becoming unstable. The other, most notable thing about this pyramid is that it still has most of its smooth facing intact, more than any of the other pyramids. This pyramid was built for king Sneferu. When he saw that it was bent he demanded that another be built for him. Consequently this pyramid was never used and nothing, or no one, was ever placed inside. The red pyramid was then built for king Sneferu. We are not sure why it's called the red pyramid. The best part about visiting this pyramid is that we got to go in and take some pictures and there were hardly any other tourists around. We spent at least half an hour inside the red pyramid and only saw six other people. The enterance to the pyramid is about a third of the way up the side, once in it is a steep decline to the first antechamber. In the second antechamber there are some wooden stairs that lead to what was probably the burial chamber for King Sneferu. It was alot of work getting in and out, I could already feel it in my legs. This was the end of our exploring and pyramids. We left for lunch and a little shopping. Finally we headed back to the hotel. We said our final goodbyes to Treza since she will not be our guide on our final day in Cairo. It was sad to to part ways, she has been a wonderful guide and taken such great care of us. She really showed us the beauty and character of Cairo and also Alexandria. She is on facebook and we got her contact information, I told her that Tam will be her farmville friend and they can trade crops and I promised to keep in touch. I will miss her a lot. We stayed at the hotel long enough to drop off our things and grab a drink before going out to see the sound and light show at the pyramids. It's a little cheesy and very touristy but it was fun, I think I even got some decent pix of the pyramids and sphinx all lit up. On the taxi ride back we saw three teenage boys riding a motorcycle, which was not that unusual but they were really interested in flirting with Rachel and were weaving in and out of traffic to keep up, honking there horn and showing off. At one point the driver actually took both hands off the handlebars and stood up with his arms straight out. I was amazed they all survived the evening. It is actually getting cold outside, by the time we got back to the hotel we could even see our breath!