The Giza Necropolis stands on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. This complex of ancient monuments is located some eight kilometers (5 mi) inland into the desert from the old town of Giza on the Nile, some 25 kilometers (12.5 mi) southwest of Cairo city centre.

This Ancient Egyptian necropolis consists of the Pyramid of Khufu (known as the Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Cheops), the somewhat smaller Pyramid of Khafre (or Chephren), and the relatively modest-size Pyramid of Menkaure (or Mykerinus), along with a number of smaller satellite edifices (known as "queens" pyramids), causeways, and valley pyramids, and most noticeably, the Great Sphinx. Current consensus among Egyptologists is that the head of the Great Sphinx is that of Khafre. Associated with these royal monuments are the tombs of high officials and much later burials and monuments (from the New Kingdom onwards), signifying the reverence to those buried in the necropolis.

Of the three, only Menkaure's Pyramid is seen today sans any of its original polished limestone casing, with Khafre's Pyramid retaining a prominent display of casing stones at its apex, while Khufu's Pyramid maintains a more limited collection at its base. It is interesting to note that this pyramid appears larger than the adjacent Khufu Pyramid by virtue of its more elevated location, and the steeper angle of inclination of its construction – it is, in fact, smaller in both height and volume. The most active phase of construction here was in the 25th century BC. The ancient remains of the Giza necropolis have attracted visitors and tourists since classical antiquity, when these Old Kingdom monuments were already over 2,000 years old. It was popularised in Hellenistic times when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today it is the only one of the ancient wonders still in existence.

Due largely to 19th-century images, the pyramids of Giza are generally thought of by foreigners as lying in a remote, desert location, even though they are located in what is now part of the most populated city in Africa. Consequently, urban development reaches right up to the perimeter of the antiquities site, to the extent that in the 1990s, Pizza Hut and KFC restaurants opened across the road. The ancient sites in the Memphis area, including those at Giza, together with those at Saqqara, Dahshur, Abu Ruwaysh, and Abusir, were collectively declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

JOURNEYS trips that include Giza:

Ancient Wonders of Egypt

Egypt Desert Oases & the Nile Valley

Cairo to Casablanca Overland Adventure from Oct. 13-Nov. 23, 2007 with Will Weber


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