Could not ask for a better first ride! Sleep deprived at the airport, we assembled our bicycles and rode across the city to the West Bank of the Nile, only to be greeted by the only ancient wonder of the world still standing—The Great Pyramids of Giza.
Where the Nile fans into the Mediterranean, at the intersection of desert, river valley, and ocean, Giza holds a crucial position on the planet. And for the last five thousand years, the ancient Egyptians have proved why.
The pharaoh Khufu was mummified and placed directly on the western side of the river where the sun dips beyond the Earth, where the ancient Egyptians believed represents the after-life. To protect his tomb and resurrect a monument in his name, the people built a 481 foot tall pyramidal structure of glowing polished limestone. And to honor his dynasty, they built towering pyramids for Khufu’s son Khafre and grandson Mankare. Continuing the lineage directly to the West, these three Pyramids are perfectly aligned with the Earth’s axis, which makes for some incredible sunset viewing!
“It’s beyond imagination how they built these.” Ahmed, our great host said as he raised his arms in disbelief, “each block is bigger than a car.”
And the crazier thing is that there are 2,300,000 blocks in each pyramid!
Carried by the flow of the Nile and an army of laborers, these blocks were chiseled in a quarry in Aswan, placed on boats, and brought 500 miles to this end of the river each year when the Nile flooded. 100 years later, the three great pyramids of Giza were fully constructed, and have withstood the test of time ever since.
These structures, poised on a hill above the city, still reign over the area as the pharaohs did. The royal places of the dead mark a skyline intersection between the Earth and the heavens.
As I stood at the base of Khufu’s pyramid I felt dwarfed and humbled by the size, but also in awe of the sheer magnitude of the innovative capabilities. These pharaohs used the same astronomical, geographical and mathematical principles that our society uses today. And in this desert they created a testament to human ingenuity.
The Great Pyramids are also aligned with the stars of Orion, each pointing to a respective star in the constellation. This celestial architecture is the work of a people who had an innate connection with the world’s physical geography.
I am grateful for all the innovative progress this civilization made for all human history. Contemplating the 4500 years that these monoliths have been in this one spot takes quite a bit of time. It slowly reminds me of how much has changed since these were created, and at the same moment reminds me that the governing forces on Earth remained the same.
From the top down, these pyramids are shown to represent the a beam of light shining through the clouds. The ancient Egyptians designed all these aspects of the architecture to represent the power of the pharaohs to “out live this Earth” In some way, I do believe that these pharaohs have reached an afterlife of sorts because their legacy still lives on in every person that hears about the Great Pyramids. And the 100,000 workers that came together to build these works of art are honored to have people come from all over the world to see them.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to see these Pyramids and gain an understanding of all the things that had to come together to make them possible.
The 3 great Pyramids, with 6 smaller pyramids surrounding them, are guarded by the Egyptian mythical figure of a large feline with a pharaoh’s head. The Sphinx holds a strong position in the ancient Egyptian religion and philosophy, and was constructed as a protector of the pharaoh’s monumental tombs.
In order to visit this surreal location, one must answer the riddle of the Sphinx,
“What creature walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon and three in the evening?”