Cairo, Egypt

It is illegal to climb the pyramids today. Tourists can still go inside the pyramids. At the time of this publication, it has been recommended to travel with caution to the Middle East due to civil and political unrest.

A short virtual tour around the pyramids


The Pyramids as they looked to Demetrius and Diomede in 250 BC
The Pyramids as they looked to Demetrius and Diomede in 250 BC. The larger one at the right was built by King Kheops for his own tomb; the one at the left by King Kephren. In front of Kheops’ Pyramid are smaller tombs for his family. In front of Kephren’s Pyramid is a raised stone causeway leading down toward the Nile Valley, past the Sphinx, and ending at a valley temple. In the lower left corner is a smaller Pyramid under construction (it’s finished in this picture, and moved to the upper left). It shows how inclines allowed slaves to drag the  stones from one level to another. From 3000 BC, when the Pyramids were built, to about 650 AD, the sides of the tombs were covered with smooth white limestone. Nobody could climb the Pyramids in those days. Then the Arabs conquered Egypt, and, to build their own cities, they removed this smooth, white outer casing. This left the great steps of brown stone we see today. The Pyramids stand about one hundred feet above the level of the Nile, on a table-land at the edge of the Sahara Desert. (public domain drawing from History of Europe Ancient and Medieval by James Henry Breasted and James Harvey Robinson, Copyright 1920)


The Pyramids as we see them now.
The Pyramids as we see them now. The Great Pyramid, built by Kheops, is the last on the right. When built, it measured 480 feet high, and 750 feet square. One hundred thousand slaves worked twenty years to put its 2,300,000 enormous blocks of stone in place. When the Arabs removed the outer casings from the Pyramids to get building stones, they took about thirty feet off the peak of the Great Pyramid, leaving the flat space shown in this picture. For some reason, the Arabs left the casing on the peak of the Second Pyramid. Because of this smooth peak, the Second Pyramid is still extremely difficult to climb. The Third Pyramid, at the left, is much the smallest of the three. Though greatly changed in outward appearance since Demetrius’ time, the Pyramids have much the same shape today as when the Greek travelers came to visit them. (CC BY 2.0 ©2005 GIOVANNI VOLPATO)


the Sphinx had a nose and a fine beard
When Demetrius came here, the Sphinx had a nose and a fine beard. But these were shot off by Egyptian artillerymen who turned their cannon on the Sphinx and used it as a target. (CC BY 2.0 ©2008 zolakoma)


Entrance to Khufu’s pyramid.
Entrance to Khufu’s pyramid. (CC BY 2.0 ©2009 Iris Fernandez)


An illustration to help you see how the inside of the Great Pyramid looks. The builders left an inclined passage from the outside, to the center of the tomb, where King Kheops’ body was to be buried. This passage was later plugged. The Arabs, in the year 818, unable to find the original opening, dug a tunnel of their own, and got inside. They found the burial chamber empty. (CC BY-SA 4.0 ©2007 Jeff Dahl)