The Sphinx (Al Haram, Giza) — The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are a powerful testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians. The best time to visit the area is early in the morning. As the day wears on, the crowds increase, especially during Egyptian holidays, as does the chance of being assaulted by dozens of postcard vendors and men offering rides on camels. The Giza pyramids are easily reached by city taxis or public transport.
The Pyramids are a marvel of engineering, and archaeologists have puzzled over exactly how they were built – and more esoteric types have wondered why. It is, however, generally accepted that the Pyramids were built as tombs for the ancient kings, an evolution from the single-stepped mastabas that designated burial sites in earlier times. Pyramid building was popular from about the 3rd to the 13th Dynasty with the biggest and best examples to be found in Giza.
The Sphinx, an ancient monument, has sparked many controversial theories. Egyptologists, however, agree that the Sphinx was built by Khafre’s workers. The enormous lion statue has recently had a face lift, as experts endeavored to save the structure from further environmental damage and undo some earlier shoddy restoration work. Visitors can view the Sphinx only from a distance now, but it is still possible to see the Dream Stela between the forepaws, erected by King Thutmose IV, who fell asleep one afternoon in the shade of the then-buried colossus and in a dream was told to clear the sand which had engulfed it. The Sphinx has sat as a silent sentinel for nearly 4500 years, gazing to the east, witnessing the growth of the ever-changing Cairo.