Results 1-9of 9 Reviews
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
October 5, 2008
From journal Pyramids, Popes and Parallel Worlds
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
October 15, 2004
The city has almost completely vanished. Its magnificent temples and palaces were torn down and pillaged by foreign invaders from the Romans onwards, and the ruins were then buried under the alluvial mud deposited by the annual flooding of the Nile. Palm groves, cultivated fields, and villages now cover the site of this once impressive city. What little has been discovered at Memphisis is gathered together in a small, open-air museum in the village of Mit Rahina.
The showpiece of the museum is a colossal limestone statue of Ramses II, which lies, truncated at the knees, in a viewing pavilion. The statue is similar to the colossus of Ramses II found in Memphis and replicated in Midan Ramses. In the garden there are more statues of Ramses II and an 18th-century Dynasty Sphinx, which, at 80 tons, is the largest calcite statue ever found! The garden also contains several calcite slabs, on which the sacred Apis bulls were mummified before being buried in nearby Saqqara.
From journal Phascinating Pharoahs
July 26, 2002
The pure shapes of the pyramids grew larger and larger as we approached Giza. Ahmed circled the minivan around the three Giza Pyramids, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Besides the Big Three, there are several smaller pyramids along with hundreds of mastaba tombs for royal family members and nobles. It is windy and sandy and sunny, but the conditions are actually not too oppressive on this particular day. I have seen old movies where the characters climbed up the sides of the pyramids, but the Tourism and Antiquities Police makes sure that you will no longer do such a thing. Local riders have camels stationed at various places, either as set pieces for tourist photos or for actual rides through the desert. My friend commented that he had ridden a camel before and the up-and-down motions of the desert mainstay made him nauseous.
The largest one is the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu), dating from 2650 BC. The immense scale reaches a height of 480 vertical feet, a weight of six million tons, and about 2.3 million blocks. The Pyramid of Chephren (Khafre) is slightly smaller but appears larger because it is a steeper pyramid, and part of the limestone coating remains on its exterior. We climbed into the belly of the Pyramid of Mycerinus (Menkaure), the smallest of the big three. It is a surreal and sweaty experience to be gingerly walking up and down some steps inside an actual pyramid!
Our final stop on the tour is at the enigmatic Sphinx, the unofficial mascot of all things Egyptian. The Sphinx was last renovated in 1998, so we could appreciate the reconstruction of the man-lion in good detail. It would have been nice to just linger and stare at our new comrade the Sphinx amongst the hordes of tourists, but it was hot and Ahmed needed to take us back to our hotel. Ahmed was kind enough to stop by at a local snack shop (he was thirsty too, after all) before the final sendoff.
I highly recommend signing up for this tour, even if the rates are higher now than in 1999. The price is not bad, many hassles are eliminated, and the content of the tour is educational and memorable.
From journal Bill in Egypt - CAIRO
Time moves us to Saqqara, the vast burial grounds of the Old Kingdom (2705 to 2155 BC) which form the largest archaeological site in Egypt. Much of the site has yet to be excavated as of now. The Step Pyramid of Zoser, designed by the architect Imhotep, is the world's first great stone structure of this scale. This mastaba pyramid has a broad rectangular base, not square, and consists of a stack of six steps. There were other buildings at this vast site, with much reconstruction having been done.
Ahmed then drove the three of us to the nearby Saqqara Restaurant for lunch. This place is packed with tourists on guided tours, and swarms of flies. We have a serviceable lunch platter with several grilled meats and freshly seared warm pita bread tossed over an open pit fire. During a break a local boy came up to our van clamoring for a pen. It seems that the Egyptian lads like to ask foreigners for cheap pens as souvenirs. I gave him a pen from a Montreal hotel, and the boy ran back giddily into his home as if I had given him King Tut's gold mask.
The tour was supposed to continue at a local carpet-making factory. I am not sure if this part of the tour was closed that day, or if Ahmed gauged that the three of us guys had no overwhelming inclinations to buy a carpet. Anyway, we skipped this part and we were now very excited to be heading for Giza. Our tour lasted from 9AM to 3PM, and it would have just been a longer day if we had been taken to the tapestry mill.
(Continued in Part 3)
My late/early British Airways flight arrived into Cairo about 1AM. After an interminable wait through customs, Salah Muhammad met me with my name on a sign. He tried to have me take the tour the very next day (that morning, actually), but I told him that my friends wanted to see other things before taking the tour. I guess he wanted to convince me so that I would not have a chance to change my mind on taking the tour after having provided free transportation into the city. Heck, the tour price is almost worth it just for the airport pickup itself!
A few days later Ahmed, a young man who claimed to be an assistant history professor at one of the universities, met us at our hotel. Ahmed was extremely professional and knowledgeable with his historical information, as my two friends basically agreed with his facts and detailed descriptions. It turned out that we were the only three people on this tour, so this became basically a private tour for us. Our guide drove us in a comfy minivan from our Giza hotel to Memphis, the oldest part of this tour.
Before we entered the local museum, Ahmed explained the early significance of Memphis in the Egyptian timeline. Memphis was the main city and capital of Egypt over 5000 years ago. The remnants of old Memphis are in the current village of Mit Rahina, about 12 miles southwest of Cairo. We took a brief tour of the small museum, highlighted by a prone statue of Ramses II. Discovered in 1820, the colossal statue is viewed by tourists as if he were on an operating table, from above as well as next to the limestone body. The Alabaster Sphinx of King Tuthmosis III is the other major draw here. There are a few minor pieces outside, hounded by stray dogs.
(Continued in Part 2)
June 29, 2002
Today, Memphis is home to the forever young King Ramses II, his limestone colossus lying in a concrete pavilion. Outside the pavilion--an 80 ton Alabaster Sphinx. Both the colossus of Ramses II & the Sphinx once stood in front of the temple of Ptah, creator of gods & the world.
In nearby Saqqara is the Step Pyramid built by the exalted architect Imhotep. This was not only the first pyramid to be built, but also the world's first large stone building & a starting point for architecture.
From journal Deserted Egypt
February 18, 2002
The museum which houses the colossal statue of Ramses II and nothing else, is open from 8-5 and costs around $2.50 US, but transportation is the bigger expense, as there's basically no public transportation available. You need to hire a taxi or guide for the half day excursion to Memphis and Saqqara, which are located 25 km SW of Cairo.
In the thousand years that Memphis flourished as the capital, many temples and funerary monuments were buit in nearby Saqqara to house deceased pharaohs and sacred animals. The Step Pyramid is believed to be the first pyramid built in Egypt, back in 2630 BC for King Djoser (Zoser). His architect, Imhotep, broke tradition of that time by creating a stone mastaba rather than using a mud-brick masataba over an underground burial chamber. The pyramid began as a simple rectangular structure, but gradually grew upwards as Imhotep decided to extend five additional steps, reaching a height of 62 meters. A funerary complex included courtyards, temples, shrines and other monuments which were all enclosed with a massive wall.
We entered the walled structure (Zoser's Temple) lined with 40 papyrus-styled pillars, which are thought to be the inspiration for Karnak's Hypostle Hall. Workers gowned in their gallabiyyas were restoring the colonnade. The limestone temple opens up into a wide courtyard with unobstructed views of the Step Pyramid.
Part of the pyramid has been restored with polished smooth limestone casing covering the stone bricks. You can touch but not climb. Camels are all over the place, many of them decorated. For a fee you could take their photo or go for a ride. We declined the rides, preferring to wait for our camel trek in Sinai later in our trip. A camel came close to us as we listened to Mohammed explain something else in exquisite detail. Then the camel laid down on it's hunches and began making distracting gurgling noises, audible reverberations of water churning in his lungs. I couldn't concentrate on Mohammed's words with a camel aspirating beside me. Nevertheless, I learned a great deal that day about jubliees, festivals and traditions that former kings celebrated here at Saqqara.
Visiting Saqqara is just as important as visiting the Giza pyramids, and was more interesting, rewarding, and real to me. First of all, Saqqara is away from the busy city, so your first impression is the great expansiveness of the desert. The sands were strikingly bright. It looked and felt like old Egypt. Another bonus was the lack of crowds, and subsequent lack of hustlers, allowing us peace, relaxation and time to absorb ancient Egypt without the usual stress.
From journal Honeymoon in Cairo
December 5, 2000
From journal Cairo's Museums and the Nile
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
November 19, 2000
Saqqara, near Memphis, was the burial site of the royals and the nobles of that time. We entered Zoser's funerary complex through a hall that once contained statues of the animal-gods that represented each of the states of the kingdom. At the end we could see a wall decorated with snakes facing the entrance - the guardians and also an emblem of royalty. We saw the first pyramid, built for Zoser by his architect Imhotep in the 27th century B.C. and known as the "Step Pyramid".
From journal Cairo, starting point to a travel in history