Think of yourself exploring Egypt, and you picture this. Picture Ancient Egypt, and this is where your mind will arrive. Here is Giza, the town just west of Cairo, where on a desert plateau stand the Sphinx, Pyramids, and mystical tombs of the pharaohs.
Everything west of the Nile’s eastern bank is in the City of Giza rather than Cairo. It’s a vast blend that includes the Nile islands of Roda and Gezira, the riverside neighborhoods of Mohandeseen and Dokki, and mile after mile of burbs and tatty low-rise. Giza plus Cairo and three other towns make up the Greater Cairo Metropolis. But of course, the grand sight is the World Heritage site Pyramids of Giza, at the wonder edge of the town, in the “Haram” district.
It isn’t easy now to picture this place 150 years ago, with early modern tourists arriving by wagon along raw paths through the fields. The grubby, vast metropolis now sits right to the foot of the pyramids. Fortunately, development has been removed (or prevented) on the plateau, so the pyramids still stand aloof in an arid expanse. A deep ridge cuts the view to the west and south, so it feels like the threshold of the Sahara, not just a sandy park or anti-oasis amid burbs and more burbs. To the south, the pyramids of Saqqara and Abusir sit in the distance.
Top Things to do
At the Pyramids:
- Dodge surrendering to the lure of taking a camel ride around the Ancient Pyramids, if you can, the practice is smelly, noisy, and somewhat overrated.
- Go horse riding instead in the desert to encounter the spirit of the Egyptian horses and the faithful majesty of the Pyramids viewed from outside the ‘circus ring’ wall.
- Explore Pyramid Light and Sound Show. The “voice of the Sphinx” describes the history of the Giza and its place in Egyptian history, while a spectacular laser display pulls out details of the Pyramids and outlines scenes onto the side of the Pyramid.
The central zoo of Greater Cairo was established in 1891 CE. It’s 2 km NE of Giza metro station, but near the riverside, so it’s simpler to take a taxi if you’re coming from downtown, particularly with kids.
Global fast food options are situated opposite the main ticket gates to the Pyramid enclosure, KFC and Pizza Hut included, so you can munch on a Tower burger and sip on a Soda in air-conditioned comfort while gazing on the more than 4,000-year-old Sphinx just across the road. Many may favor a more native experience, although the freshness of the situation could be attractive.
Now You Know