Egypt - Cairo - Pyramids with a Camel

In March of 2023, my wife and I embarked on a much-anticipated exploration of Egypt and the Pyramids.

Discover Egypt and the highlights of our tour here and about Cairo here.

We dedicate this story to our exhilarating journey through the Great Pyramids, Saqqara, and Memphis.

Guided by the knowledgeable Fawzy from Memphis Tours, we delved into the rich history of these ancient sites, creating unforgettable memories.

Mit Rahina Museum

Egypt - Giza - Mit Rahina MuseumOur adventure began with a visit to the remnants of the ancient city of Memphis and the captivating Mit Rahina Museum.

Founded by King Menes, Memphis (Men-nefer) was the capital of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom, thriving as a hub of commerce, trade, and religious activity.

Interesting Facts: Memphis, once a flourishing capital, played a pivotal role in ancient Egypt's economy and spirituality. It was also a center for the worship of Ptah, the god of creation and craftsmanship.

Egypt - Giza - Mit Rahina MuseumToday, the ruins of this once-great city lie near the village of Mit Rahina.

The open-air Mit Rahina Museum, centered around a colossal fallen limestone statue of Ramses II, left us in awe of its grandeur.

Ascending the stairs for a better view, we marveled at the statue's intricate artistry, while the balcony offered a panoramic view of other statues, monuments, and a field of yet-to-be-assembled artifacts.

Notably, the museum also houses a smaller Sphinx and an upright statue of Ramases II, surrounded by vendors offering a variety of souvenirs.

Saqqara and Stepped Pyramid

Egypt - Saqqara - Step PyramidIn the Giza Governorate lies the village of Saqqara, an ancient burial ground for Egyptian royalty and the necropolis for the capital, Memphis.

Home to numerous pyramids, including the iconic Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara is celebrated for its historical significance as the site of the oldest complete stone building complex in history.

Interesting Facts: The Step Pyramid of Djoser, a revolutionary design by the architect Imhotep, marked a significant transition from traditional mastaba tombs to the pyramidal shapes we associate with ancient Egypt today.

Enclosed within a vast funerary complex, the Step Pyramid, designed by the legendary Imhotep, stands as a testament to ancient architectural ingenuity.

Egypt - Saqqara - funerary complexThe complex includes a large court between the south tomb and the Pyramid, featuring curved stones that are believed to be territorial markers for the Heb-sed festival.

This festival, typically celebrated after 30 years of a pharaoh's reign, was a crucial ritual for renewing their divine powers. More about it can be found here: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Heb-Sed.

Exploring the grand entrance, the colonnade, and the South Court, we were captivated by the scale and design of the complex. The Pyramid of Djoser, the first of its kind, was an awe-inspiring sight, dwarfing us with its monumental size.

Travel Tip: When visiting Saqqara, hiring a knowledgeable guide can greatly enhance your understanding and appreciation of the site's historical context and architectural significance.

Restaurant "Pharous"

Egypt - Saqqara - Restaurant 'Pharous'Following our exploration of the museum and the Step Pyramid, we dined at the authentic Egyptian restaurant "Pharous," aptly named for its proximity to the tombs of the Pharaohs.

Greeted by a lively band of performers, we were immediately immersed in the vibrant local culture as we entered.

Opting to dine in the serene garden, we were treated to a feast of Mezzeh and grilled meats. Egypt - Saqqara - Restaurant 'Pharous'The Mezzeh, a delightful array of small dishes including Humus, Falafel, Tabouleh, Baba Ghannoj, pickles, and olives, offered a taste of the rich culinary diversity of Egypt.

Culinary Tip: When in Egypt, indulging in a traditional Mezzeh is a must. This assortment of small dishes provides a flavorful journey through the country's diverse and vibrant cuisine.

The ambiance, enhanced by traditional Arabic music, made for a memorable dining experience under the Egyptian sky.

The Great Pyramids and Sphinx

Our journey continued with a short drive through local villages and towns, leading us to the awe-inspiring site of the three Great Pyramids.

The proximity of these ancient wonders to the bustling suburbs of Giza was a striking contrast to their usual portrayal in media as isolated structures in the midst of a vast desert.

Interesting Fact: The Pyramids of Giza, especially the Great Pyramid of Khufu, are aligned with incredible precision to the cardinal points of the compass, a testament to the ancient Egyptians' advanced understanding of astronomy.

Approaching the base of the Pyramid of Khufu, we were overwhelmed by its colossal scale, resembling a man-made mountain more than a structure.

The transformation of Giza over millennia is a story of endurance and change, as depicted in the video above. You can also view it here: https://youtu.be/_CeDOpCFwOY?t=43.

Egypt - Giza - Pyramid ChamberInside the Great Pyramid, three known chambers exist, with one open to tourists. Despite our guide's advice, we ventured into the chamber.

Travel Tip: Visiting the interior of the Great Pyramid is a challenging but rewarding experience. Be prepared for a steep climb in a narrow passage, and consider the physical demands before embarking on this adventure.

The journey inside was arduous, with a steep, crowded tunnel leading to the hot, stuffy chamber. Although the chamber was bare, the experience of being inside this ancient wonder was unforgettable.

After exploring the Pyramid of Khufu, we were taken to a viewpoint to see all three Pyramids together, an iconic and breathtaking sight.

While camel rides were offered around the Pyramids, we opted out, still awestruck by the magnitude of these ancient structures.

Egypt - Giza - Sphinx - by Emőke Dénes - WikimediaThe Great Sphinx, a monumental limestone statue combining a human head with a lion's body, was another highlight of our visit.

The mystery of the Sphinx's missing nose is often attributed to Napoleon's army, but historical evidence suggests it was lost long before his time. This myth, however, remains a popular part of its lore.

Our time at the Sphinx was unexpectedly shortened due to a sudden desert storm, but by then, we had deeply immersed ourselves in the wonders of ancient Egypt and were ready for the evening's plans.

La Palmeraie Moroccan Restaurant

Egypt - Cairo - La Palmeraie Moroccan RestaurantReturning to Cairo, we refreshed ourselves before heading to La Palmeraie Moroccan Restaurant, nestled in the Sofitel Hotel.

Perched on a terrace, the restaurant offered stunning views of the Nile, complete with sailboats and the Cairo cityscape.

As we savored the view, we indulged in the lamb with dried fruits and chicken with potatoes tagine, each dish a delightful exploration of Moroccan flavors.

Culinary Tip: La Palmeraie offers a fusion of Moroccan and Egyptian culinary traditions, making it a perfect spot for those looking to experience a blend of North African flavors.

The combination of exquisite cuisine and the enchanting Nile view made our dinner at La Palmeraie an unforgettable end to a day filled with historical marvels.