A Brief History of Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid is particularly beautiful as dusk falls on Giza
The Great Pyramid is particularly beautiful as dusk falls on Giza | © Sergii Kolesnyk / mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Marzouk

Built between 2584BCE and 2561BCE, the Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the pyramid of Khufu or Pyramid of Cheops, is the oldest – and last remaining – of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We take a brief look at the history of this intriguing structure that sits within the bounds of modern-day Cairo.

According to Egyptologists, the pyramid was built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu, the second king of the Fourth Dynasty who ruled for approximately 20 years. For almost 4,000 years, the pyramid was considered the tallest man-made structure in the world. It is the largest and the oldest of the three pyramids on the complex at Giza, an embodiment of the grandeur of ancient Egypt.

The Great Pyramid is the largest pyramid at Giza

The pyramid’s construction remains largely a mystery. Built from more than 2m stone blocks and measuring 146m (481ft) high when it was first constructed, the pyramid is now 138m (455ft) tall after erosion removed the top portion. As for the base, each side is about 230m (756ft) long, and the total area covered is around 5ha (13 acres).

The pyramid was considered a tomb and a place of regeneration for the deceased king. It has three known burial chambers inside and a sloping passageway named the Grand Gallery. One chamber is underground and carved into the bedrock. The other two, one named the Queen’s Chamber and the other the King’s Chamber, are higher up within the pyramid.

The Grand Gallery is a passageway inside the Great Pyramid

Khufu’s pyramid was called Ikhet by ancient Egyptians, which means glorious light. In its original state, it was covered with highly polished white limestone, which reflected the sunlight and made the pyramid shimmer. Later, those casing stones were removed by Arabs to build mosques. According to calculations, the mirror-like original structure could be seen from the moon.

The entrance to the Great Pyramid is on the north side of the structure

You can visit the Giza Pyramid and the Sphinx as part of Culture Trip’s epic 10-day Egypt tour, led by our Local Insider.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article