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The Pyramids of Giza

Thursday, May 4, 2006
The Pyramids of Giza sit on the fringes of Cairo, one of Africa's busiest cities. In Arabic, Egypt is referred to as "Mother of the World", which means Cairo is the heart of the mother. A place made by rich and lounging pharaohs and sultans, it is now teeming with merchants and disreputables trying to relieve tourists of their money.

Despite this, its deep-rooted history is the most overwhelming experience the city offers. Not only pharaohs and sultans but early Coptic, Islamic, Roman, Greek, Ottoman Turks and colonial rule by France and England have left evidence of their presence, but its Islamic heritage is most obvious.

Africa's largest city has around 16 million citizens and is a city of contradictions — chaos, bustle, pollution, sophistication, history and culture. Shiny black European cars mingle with donkeys, goats and camels in the main streets and palatial hotels stand next to mudbrick houses.

There are many ways to make your way to and around the ancient pyramids, but surely by camel is the most appropriate mode of transport.

If you don't suffer claustrophobia, 300 people a day can wander inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops. It is 147m high and is made of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each weighing between 2.5 and 15 tonnes. The project took 20 years to complete and is so architecturally precise it is just 4cm out at the base.

Just 10cm shorter than Cheops is the central pyramid belonging to the pharaoh's son Chephren, carefully guarded by the Sphinx.

If you are keen to stay in the area, Le Meridien Pyramids is a stone's throw from the eternal shrines. It is also close to the Opera House, Egyptian Museum, Sakkara Pyramids and Gezirah Tower. The resort is set in landscaped gardens and has excellent views of Giza.


Cairo, the capital of Egypt.

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