The Pyramids

This Wikipedia photo shows seven of the ten Giza pyramids. The three large pyramids held the pharoahs’ bodies, whereas the smaller pyramids were built to hold the wives of the pharoahs. The pyramids were intended to send these people into the afterlife together with their prized possessions. Unfortunately, all the valuable artifacts were stolen by grave robbers over the centuries.
This was the view sailing into the harbor of Port Said.
An Egyptian warship cruises past the freight docks opposite the city shown in the photo above this one.

Before I discuss the experience of visiting the pyramids, I’d like to present some context of Port Said, Cairo, the Nile Delta, and a little information about Egyptian society in general.

The Viking Star landed in Port Said, where the Suez Canal meets the Mediterranean. Our tour of the pyramids began with a three and a half hour bus ride from Port Said to Cairo, Egypt’s capital, home to approximately twenty-two million inhabitants, similar in size to Mumbai, India. This bus ride took us through the “breadbasket of Egypt”, the fertile Nile Delta, which is irrigated by an extensive network of canals from the Nile River.

This is one of the major canals channeling Nile River water to farms throughout the Nile Delta.
Greenhouses and vegetable fields

There are many ponds near the canals which are fish farms. We saw orchards of different fruit trees, including many mango trees, originally brought from India. On the road, we saw trucks carrying bananas, oranges, onions, garlic, and more. Posted below are three tomato trucks passed by our bus. Obviously tomatoes are in season.

The Egyptian people in the South, including Luxor, the home of Karnak’s Palace, were mostly relatively poor. Cairo, by contrast, is much more prosperous and expensive. Cairo has an amazing number of buildings under construction, needed to house the many new residents drawn from rural Egypt for the jobs in the big city. The photos I am posting show only a small sample of the many new buildings that are springing up in Cairo’s new suburbs.

I have no idea what the story is with this building, but it certainly shows originality and a sense of humor.
On the outskirts of Cairo were several huge building developments similar to the one above. Cairo is a dynamically growing city.

Egypt has a problem that it doesn’t grow enough food to feed its growing population of over on hundred million. Wikipedia states that Egypt consists of 94-96% desert. Only 3.5% of Egypt is cultivated. Egypt normally received a large part of its wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine, which have now been disrupted. The government has wheat reserves, but this is an example of the worldwide disruption resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cairo has many mosques built in varying sizes and styles. This mosque is surrounded by buildings under construction.
This building is next to the freeway. The field behind show that Egyptians use every bit of open farmland to grow grains and vegetables.

Covid disrupted tourism in Egypt. Tourists’ visits are starting to rebound, but our guide explained that crowds were relatively small compared to pre-covid. Our guide also explained that we would be some of the last tourists to be able to ride in our buses right up to the pyramids. A new system is being constructed to transport all tourists in electric vehicles from the controlled entrance, thus reducing pollution and traffic jams that have detracted from the experience.

Originally, all the pyramids were covered with fine white marble. But over the centuries, native Egyptians as well as conquerers took away the marble covering to use for their own houses, palaces, or temples. Now, only the marble covering shown above survived being stolen. This is the Pyramid of Khafre.
The great pyramid of Giza
This is the third and smallest of the great pyramids, the Pyramid of Menkaure. To its right are the tops of two smaller pyramids dedicated to the pharoah’s wives. The pyramids were intended to send their mummified residents quickly into the afterlife.
It is estimated that 1.2 million stone blocks each weighing an average of two tons were used in the pyramids’ construction. This photo is a closeup of the base of one of the great pyramids, with the city of Cairo in the background.

The Pyramids were constructed between 2600-2500 BC. That means that they are the oldest manmade structures in the world. There are some ruins that are also that old, but nothing that has survived like the pyramids. I can’t imagine that any person has ever seen the Pyramids and not been impressed. They are simply amazing. It is amazing to think of the Pharoahs and the Egyptian society of that time which led to the creation of the Pyramids, the Karnak Temple, the Sphinx, and other amazing cultural creations.

The Sphinx and the Khafre Pyramid

I learned that the quarry for most of the stones used to build the pyramids was directly adjacent to the pyramids. In the quarry was one huge marble stone which was carved into the Sphinx. Archeologists think that the Sphinx head represents the Pharoah Khafre, whose pyramid is the one shown above with the remnant covering. An interesting fact about Khafre’s pyramid is that it is not the largest of the great pyramids. However, Pharoah Khafre cleverly had his pyramid placed on a higher elevation and built at a slightly steeper angle, such that it looks bigger than the actually bigger Great Pyramid of Giza.

Behind the Sphinx is the Great Pyramid of Giza. No one knows who or how the Sphinx’s nose was broken.
This photo shows the proximity of the Sphinx to the great pyramids. The stone walls around the Sphinx house a temple used for the mummification of Pharoah Khafre and after his death used for administrating the construction of other pyramids nearby.
From the observation deck, one sees many of the huge stone blocks used to house the temple next to the Sphinx.

Our tour included a visit to the papyrus store. The Egyptians invented paper in the form of papyrus, a woody plant that grows near the Nile. Thin sheets of the papyrus plant stalks are soaked (and slightly fermented) for a week, and then are put under pressure for a week. The result is a quality of paper that is very strong, almost like a thin sheet of modern vinyl or rubber, much stronger than ordinary modern paper. Ancient papyrus has lasted for millennia, just like the pyramids.

Following our pyramid tour, our guide took us to an upscale store for souvenirs and artworks close by the pyramids. Though we didn’t buy anything, I took lots of photos. Enjoy!

This is an exact modern reproduction of a pharoah’s mummy, the original being in a museum.
I don’t know who the guy with the red shirt is.

Around the pyramids are many camel drivers and horse carts. They are quite aggressive in trying to persuade tourists to ride their camels or simply have their photo taken with the camels. Here are a few photos from that area around the pyramids.

Another Cairo minaret, as seen from the moving bus.
Two friendly soldiers at one of the many military checkpoints on the road.

Hi, I'm Dallas Smith

My blogs offer the vicarious pleasure for my readers to learn of my travels and musical adventures.
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Comments (8)

  1. Ginnie Kersey

    April 10, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Wonderful photos…I have never been in that part of the World, and your photos make one feel like they can really get a closeup glimpse of such interesting scenes. Thank you!
    Probably a good idea that you did buy any of those beautiful big items..not sure how you would get them aboard ships!

  2. Arthur Rosch

    April 10, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    Watch your shutter speed, Dallas and Susan. Wonderful pics as always. I get more info out of your travels than many a commercial tour pamphlet.

  3. Douglas L. Saum

    April 11, 2022 at 12:45 am

    I read somewhere that Napoleon’s soldiers shot the Sphinx’s face creating damage.

    • Dallas Smith

      April 11, 2022 at 4:54 am

      The Napoleon myth…check out my brother-in-law’s reply on my FB page.

  4. Matthew

    April 11, 2022 at 1:59 am

    Amazing pictures, Dallas! Keep up the great work!

  5. jim prosser

    April 11, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    The shop you were in look a lot like many I have been in Morocco. I am impressed with the fine work, but a house will only hold so many things. I currently need to sort through and decrease the amount of things in our house. Loved the pyramid pictures and the facts.

  6. Lisa

    April 13, 2022 at 3:05 am

    Please keep the writing and pictures! I love reading your blogs and am making notes so I know where to visit next. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us!

  7. Melissa J Phillippe

    April 27, 2022 at 1:13 am

    Another FABULOUS collection of beautiful photos! AND educational information. Awesome, Dallas. HUGS to you each and both. From each and both os us. 💕

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