The Pyramids Of Giza, Egypt
Attracting thousands of visitors every day, there are few creations on earth that can compare with the Pyramids of Giza. These monolithic, powerful structures have have left visitors awestruck for thousands of years, and continue to do so today. We’ve all seen the documentaries that National Geographic, Nova, PBS, BBC, Discovery and the like have been cranking out pretty much since the origin of documentaries themselves. But seeing these structures in person is an experience incomparable with any documentary or movie you may have seen prior.
First off, they are massive. Like, crazy big. The pictures don’t do them justice — you need to actually stand at the foot of one of them, and see how dwarfed you really are. At 138.8 meters (455 ft) tall, the Great Pyramid remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, unsurpassed until the 160-meter-tall (520 ft) spire of Lincoln Cathedral was completed in 1300. The Great Pyramid consists of an estimated 2.4 million limestone blocks, with the average weight of a block being about 2.5 tons. The largest granite stones in the pyramid, found in the King’s Chamber, weigh 25 to 80 tons and were transported from Aswan, more than 800 km (500 mi) away.
Despite many ‘theories,’ scientists to this day are unable to explain how the pyramids were constructed 4500 years ago with no machinery. The sheer task of cutting, then transporting 80 ton slabs of granite from 500 miles a way seems to be a non-reality back in those supposedly-primitive times, let alone hoisting/lifting/rolling said stones into place high up on the pyramid. This would be a struggle for us to accomplish with modern day tools and technology, and yet the Egyptians supposedly did it with a whole bunch of logs and slave labor?
This improbability has spawned many theories as to how there must have been some sort of alien or extraterrestrial technology involved. Author Erich von Däniken puts forth a myriad of scientific facts in his famous bestseller Chariots Of The Gods that point to extraterrestrial intervention in human history. More recently, the History Channel (H2) series Ancient Aliens has featured several episodes on the pyramids, as well as many other ancient structures. While such theories may seem far-fetched to some, they seem a lot more plausible than logs and slaves, especially when you see the pyramids in person 😉
When visiting the pyramids, you will undoubtedly be tempted to go into the Great Pyramid (it’s the only pyramid you are allowed to enter). There is no charge to visit the pyramids themselves, but the doorman at the Great Pyramid will juice you for a cool twenty bucks ($20 USD) if you want to go in. And by go in, I mean, crawl down a claustrophobic shaft that was clearly built for smaller-framed ancient Egyptians, vs your average semi-pudgy Westerner. I remember my guide giving me a word of caution about entering the Great Pyramid. He said he didn’t want to spoil anything for me… but that most people were not all that impressed by what they saw inside.
But of course after having traveled half way across the earth, and seeing more Egyptian documentaries than I could count… you had better bet your biscuits I was going in that damn pyramid!! 😉 No cautionary advisory was going to hold me back. And… AND… turns out my guide was right 🙂 Inside there’s a very stuffy, very small room that is barely lit. In the center of it lies an open sarcophagus. No hieroglyphics. No carvings. No sphinxes or cool Egyptian stuff. Just a very boring, dark room that was hard to breathe in. And after witnessing the anti-climactic, highly underwhelming inside chamber, you get to shimmy/climb your way out via the same little shaft you came in through. All in all: not recommended! I totally understand if you have to satisfy your curiosity, as I sure did! But be prepared for an “I told you so” upon exit 😉
Side note: you are strictly forbidden to climb the pyramids at any time, and getting caught can get you 1-3 years in an Egyptian jail. But that didn’t stop some crazy Russians from doing so back in 2013! 😀