Back to the car, we went directly to Memphis, the first capital of Egypt established when the unification of the Lower Egypt with the Old Kingdom (Upper Egypt) happened around 1300 B.C. What used to be at a certain point one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, is looking now like a poor village. And it makes you wonder how did we came up with this concept we are so proud of… ”humanity evolution”? Each time I enter a place where I am amazed by the details and the greatness of huge structures and temples staying there for centuries and built in such a way that the modern technology is not able to do it, I cannot help it to ask myself ”where is the evolution of human kind?”. Usually, these places are in the middle of poor communities that lack normal living resources, places full of trash and poverty, and you go there staring at these structures and wondering what happened with this civilization and where are its heirs?
I don’t have an answer to this question, but what I can tell you is what you could see in Memphis. There is this historical Open-Air Museum where you can see a huge statue of Ramses II missing both feet, that’s why it is exposed in horizontal position. However, there is a colossus of the same king that was very well preserved and a Sphinx in a better shape than the one from the Giza Plateau weighing 80 tones. Moreover, you can witness different granite statues, coffins and tablets dating from various periods of time. And the cherry on top, there are some alabaster stands inside the museum, where you can buy different small statues. One is Ibrahim’s stand and from the entrance he insisted to go and see his shop. I was in a good mood, so I went, telling him I will not buy anything, but I took a picture of him and his stand to show it to the people reading this story.
What I didn’t know at that time, was the fact the Cairo and its surrounding have better prices then Luxor. So, if you go there, you may want to buy your souvenirs in the Lower Egypt (Northern part of Egypt: Cairo, Alexandria, etc.). We didn’t as we wanted to visit first and think about shopping at the end, and we felt a bit ripped-off by the Luxor’s merchants, even if we bargained a lot.
We’ve spent literally 10 minutes inside the museum as we had on our agenda to visit the Pyramid of Djoser and the Giza Plateau by the end of the day. So, we went back to the car and headed towards the Saqqara necropolis where the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser was waiting for us. In the car, Esra gave us clear instructions not to speak with anyone offering us a tour of the site as they will ask us for money at the end, and obviously not to buy things from the touristic objectives as the prices are sometimes 10 times higher than usual or even more. And this is just because you are a tourist and you are supposed to have a lot of money with you. I have a funny story about this kind of local behaviors, so stay tuned.
Once we entered the site, we were assaulted by different men trying to act like a guide of the site. They were too invasive for my taste, but we’ve managed to get rid of them. After passing the impressive columns from the entrance, here it is the beautiful Stepped Pyramid of Djoser, a six-stepped structure of 62.5 meters height, built in the 27th century B.C. as a burial place for the Pharaoh Djoser. The pyramid was restored for 14 years and it looks amazing! It was opened for visitors in March 2020, so to be honest I feel very grateful for choosing this year to visit Egypt and go there. The entire archeological site looks great. We first went to see the surroundings of the pyramid, and to take some pictures.
We didn’t plan to go inside as we were trying to move fast to arrive in time to the Giza Plateau that day. But, God has always other plans for you, so at a certain point I felt this attraction of seeing what’s inside. And we approached another couple asking a man if we could visit the pyramid inside as well. The man was the husband of a Romanian lady, so we started to talk about the place, about our home country while the man was opening the door for us. The site was supposed to close at 3 pm, and the closing schedule was there, so everyone was rushing us to leave the place as soon as possible, but not this man that open the door of the pyramid for us.
We entered this passage more easily to walk in as it was horizontal and very well restored, compared with the one of the Red Pyramid in Dahshur. Here could enter any person as there is no struggle. It is like a walk in the park, but instead of trees and vegetation, you have stones. 😊 This passage leads to a chamber from where you can see 30 meters down another chamber that was closed. actually, when we went around the pyramid, we’ve seen another entrance lower underground but it was closed and the same man opening this side of the pyramid for us told us that is it is closed for visitors. I don’t know why and he never said why, but at a certain point that side of the pyramid was opened as there are various visitors’ pictures online.
Never mind… I guess that side was not for us, so we enjoyed the upper side of the pyramid and once our visit inside ended, we encountered outside the same rush coming from other people taking care of the necropolis to leave fast as they had to close the site.
We went back to the car where Esra was waiting for us to drive us to the Giza Plateau. But before reaching the car, we took some pictures outside the site with the gate, and look what strange thing came out on camera on one of it. I swear we didn’t see any aliens there, nor UFO’s, so… 😊
We arrived quite fast as the Saqqara necropolis is located 30 kilometers south of Cairo, so we arrived at one of the entrances of Giza Plateau before 4:00 PM to have enough time to see the three pyramids. Normal schedule of Giza Plateau is from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but guess what? We planned our visit to Egypt during Ramadan and we didn’t know that everything in the Lower Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria, etc.) is closing 2 hours before during Ramadan. Here, at the gate of Giza Plateau we understood why the people from the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser was rushing us to leave the place as soon as possible. The strange thing was that our driver, Esra, was not aware of this new schedule, otherwise we would have planned our journey differently.
So, if you are planning to visit Lower Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria and surroundings) during Ramadan, take into account that everything closes 2 hours before the normal schedule. In the Upper Egypt (Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel etc.), there is no such a rule and the schedule of different sites are even more extended until 9:00 PM (Luxor and Kom Ombo Temples). But I will write a more practical article including the schedule hours of all the sites we’ve seen. Meanwhile, you can read some tips and tricks for a great DYI trip in Egypt.
To be continued…
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