The other pyramids of Egypt

September 30, 2011 by

Day Trips, Local Recommendations, Sightseeing, Things To Do

Try out Dahshur to get a close look at more of Egypt's pyramids

Mention that you’ve been to the Pyramids in Egypt and most people will understandably assume you mean the Great Pyramid and its neighbors in Giza. But while they form an unarguably jaw-dropping ensemble and just happen to be located at the edge of Cairo, they are by no means the end of the pyramid story.

Consider Dahshur, for instance, with its three surviving pyramids (out of an original 11). While Dahshur is a little further away than Giza, at 35km away from central Cairo, it’s still readily accessible, and well worth the journey. Get a taxi from the city or incorporate it into a wider tour that takes in Saqqara and the ruins of (the original) Memphis.

Built around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, the Dahshur Pyramids are even older than their Giza counterparts and give a compelling insight into pyramid development. They also attract far fewer visitors, so you can take time to contemplate these enormous structures.

The “Black” Pyramid is named for its sinister appearance rather than its actual color. Built on unstable ground too close to the Nile flood plains, it is partially collapsed and such is its state of decay that at first glance you could take it for a natural rock formation. Posterity was much kinder to the “Red” Pyramid (whose stone in fact only has a slight blush). A perfect four-sided structure, it’s the oldest true pyramid in Egypt; you can enter, but the funerary bling is long gone.

Whereas “black” and “red” are subjective descriptions of our first two stops, the Bent Pyramid very much lives up to its name. However, no one is entirely certain if its unique shape, featuring a kink about halfway up, was the result of deliberate design or an engineering accident.

- James Conway

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