Saqqara, Memphis and the Pyramids of Giza - Route of the Pharaohs
Duration: Half Day
Step back in time to ancient lands during your holiday in Egypt, as you explore the magnificent statues, ruins and tombs of the Old Kingdom. The Step Pyramid of King Zoser, the statue of Ramses II and the Pyramids of Giza are just some of the treasures you will discover in and around Cairo and Memphis.
Departing from Alexandria, you will travel by air-conditioned coach across the desert to Saqqara, a section of Memphis’ vast necropolis on the west side of the River Nile. This is reputedly the oldest cemetery in Ancient Egypt and one of the most extensive archaeological sites in the country. The majority of the kings, queens and officials from the 1st and 2nd Dynasties have been buried here, and the site is dominated by the famous Step Pyramid of King Zoser (Djoser), one of the greatest Kings of the 3rd Dynasty. Dating back to 2700 BC, this pyramid is believed to be the first of Egypt's 97 pyramids and the oldest stone structure in the world.
Surrounding the pyramid is King Zoser’s extensive funerary complex, which includes the ruins of once magnificent altars, thrones, columns, statues and shrines. You will also visit the famous Mastaba of Mereruka, the largest mastaba in Saqqara, which is beautifully decorated with colourful reliefs depicting the deceased and his wife.
We travel onwards to the ancient city of Memphis, the capital of the Old Kingdom of Egypt and the Two Lands (Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt) through six Dynasties. Built by King Menes around 3100 BC, the city is believed to have been one of the largest and most important cities in the ancient world. It once boasted many grand temples, monuments, palaces and gardens, but little remains of the city’s splendour today aside from its scattered ruins, which are certainly worth exploring nevertheless.
Here you will visit the impressive Alabaster Sphinx, which was carved in honour of an unknown Pharaoh between 1700 and 1400 BC during the 18th Dynasty. The face is believed to be that of Amenhotep III, one of the builders of the Luxor temple, but no one is certain. You will also visit the Colossus of Ramses II, who was the third King of the 19th Dynasty and the most powerful of Egypt's ancient pharaohs. This magnificent limestone statue once adorned the great temple of the god Ptah in Memphis.
You journey continues to the historic pyramid valley of Cheops, Chefren and Micherinos on the Giza Plateau, where you will see the best preserved pyramids in Egypt. The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Cheops), also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, is the largest and most spectacular of all. Built entirely of limestone, it is considered an architectural masterpiece.
The pyramids and surrounding mastabas house the tombs of the Kings, Queens and nobles from the Old and Middle Kingdoms, and are vigilantly guarded by the legendary Great Sphinx. Dating back to around 2500 B.C, this awe-inspiring statue is believed to be the earliest known monumental sculpture in Egypt.
After lunch you will stop at a papyrus workshop to learn about the ancient craft of paper making from reeds. This is followed by shopping in a local store before returning to Alexandria.
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