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Jun 8, 2010 - Cairo    2 Comments

A Great Day Trip from Cairo – The Saqqara Necropolis and Step Pyramid of Zoser, The Memphis Open Air Museum & The Dahshur Necropolis

Phew! That’s a long title for a blog post.  But really, you can see all 3 sites in one day and they are truly worth checking out.  Hire a taxi for approximately 200 LE for the day, and escape the bustling streets of Cairo for a less crowded look at Egyptian history.

The Saqqara Necropolis and Step Pyramid of Djoser (Zoser)

Hours of Operation: 0800 – 1600, daily

Admission: 60 LE (or 30LE with valid student ID)

Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas. Located some 30 km south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 km by 1.5 km.

At Saqqara, the oldest complete hewn-stone building complex known in history was built: Djoser’s step pyramid, built during the third dynasty. 16 other Egyptian kings have built pyramids at Saqqara, which are now in various states of preservation or dilapidation. High officials have added private funeral monuments to this necropolis during the entire pharaonic period. It remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3,000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times.

The Memphis Open Air Museum

Hours of Operation: 0800 – 1700, daily

Admission: 35 LE

According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BCE. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an important city throughout ancient Mediterranean history. It occupied a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile delta, and was home to feverish activity. Its principal port, Peru-nefer, harboured a high density of workshops, factories, and warehouses that distributed food and merchandise throughout the ancient kingdom. During its golden age, Memphis thrived as a regional centre for commerce, trade, and religion.

The ruins of the former capital today offer fragmented evidence of its magnificent past. They have been preserved, along with the pyramid complex at Giza, as a World Heritage Site since 1979. The site is open to the public as an open-air museum.  The museum has many Ancient Egyptian statues on display, the most notable one being the 10m (33ft) Colossus of Ramesses II, which is held in a small indoor building on the site.

Dahshur Necropolis (The Bent Pyramid)

Hours of Operation: 0800 – 1700, daily

Admission: 30 LE

Dahshur is a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile approximately 40 kilometres south of Cairo. It is known chiefly for several pyramids, two of which are among the oldest, largest and best preserved in Egypt. The site is best known as a more tranquil (if also more isolated) location in which to visit several very large pyramids – at least, when compared to Giza and Saqqara. Visitor numbers are much smaller, queues are way shorter and there is far less hassle.


  • [...] of Giza are a short drive west of the heart of Cairo, with the Step Pyramid of Djoser on the Saqqara Necropolis, or the Bent Pyramid at Dhashur just 30 km outside of the bustling [...]

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