Visit the last standing wonder of the ancient world
Travel back in time
Nearly 5,000 years ago, outside the ancient city of Memphis, Egyptians built pyramids as tombs for their kings. These monuments are still standing today in the city of Giza. Zoom in to explore them.
Digging for the truth
Egyptologists and archaeologists have been studying the Pyramids for centuries, yet
much of their history is still unknownWhat is a pyramid?A pyramid is a shape with triangular sides that join at an apex on top. There are over 100 pyramids in Egypt, most of which were built as tombs for pharaohs, although none are as recognizable as the Pyramids of Giza. Pyramids can also be found in other parts of the world, including Italy, India and Mexico.The Pyramids of GizaThe Pyramids of Giza were built 4,500 years ago during the Fourth Dynasty, Egypt’s golden age. They took roughly 85 years to construct and were built by three generations of Pharaohs: Khufu, his son Khafre and grandson Menkaure. Their tombs are flanked by three smaller Queens’ Pyramids.The Great PyramidThe Great Pyramid, built by Khufu, was the first and largest pyramid at Giza. Standing 139 meters high (455 ft), it was the tallest man-made structure on Earth for nearly 4,000 years. The pyramid is aligned with the cardinal directions, and faces almost exactly due north, a confounding architectural feat.Next to the Great Pyramid is the Khufu ship, a fully intact solar boat intended to transport the pharaoh to the afterlife. Explore this placeThe Pyramid of KhafreThe white-topped Pyramid of Khafre appears to be the largest of the three pyramids, but it’s an illusion: although smaller in stature, it was built on elevated bedrock to appear taller. Remarkably, the symmetrical sides and identical angles of this pyramid were achieved using basic tools like cubit rods and plum bobs. Explore this placeThe Great SphinxThe Great Sphinx is a limestone sculpture depicting what is likely King Khafre’s head on a lion’s body. The Sphinx is a mythical creature pharaohs believed could bring them favor with the sun god in the afterlife. For centuries, the Great Sphinx was mostly buried by shifting desert sand, but it has now been fully excavated. Explore this placeThe Pyramid of MenkaureThe third and smallest Pyramid of Giza is the tomb of Menkaure, located at the southern edge of the complex. Menkaure has been a source of both precious artifacts and archaeological disappointments. First, human bones recovered inside were found to have been from another site, then a sarcophagus excavated in the pyramid sunk in a shipwreck. Explore this placeBuilding the PyramidsNo one knows for sure how this ancient society built monuments so massive. Building the pyramids involved transporting enormous stone blocks to the Giza Plateau, then using ramps, pulleys and levers to stack them at perfect angles. Tens of thousands of paid laborers (not slaves) built the Great Pyramids, which are more technically advanced than the earlier step pyramid style.Egyptian burial customsAfter the death of a pharaoh, it took 70 days to mummify the body, including removing the brains and internal organs. The mummy was then ‘re-animated’ through a series of rituals, including the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony to help the pharaoh breathe and speak in the afterlife. Mummies then were placed in a wood coffin and stone sarcophagus. Some mummies were masked, like this much later example of King Tut’s mask from the Google Cultural InstituteClose to the capitalThe Pyramids were built on the outskirts of the old capital, Memphis, and now stand a short drive from Egypt’s current capital, Cairo. While this is convenient for tourists, their close proximity to this growing city has created challenges for the Pyramids, including noise, light and air pollution.A sight to beholdThe Pyramids of Giza are some of the oldest and most fascinating structures on Earth. Built thousands of years ago, they stand as a testament to the engineering accomplishments of civilizations past. Take a journey through time and discover these ancient wonders.
What do we know for sure?First glimpseMillions of people have traveled down this road to visit one of the most famous landmarks on Earth. In the distance you can see the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure rising like man-made mountains. Explore this place