Egypt, the land of the pharaohs and the pyramids, never fails to surprise its visitors with its rich culture, mysteries and intact fragments of the medieval period. There is such a powerful monument that leaves hundreds and thousands of spectators in complete awe. Great Sphinx of Giza, a magnificent statue, with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Carved from a single block of nearby limestone bedrock, this colossal Egyptian antiquity is claimed to be the oldest and largest known sculpture in the world.
About the Great Sphinx of Giza
The main reason why the Sphinx was built is still unknown, but some historians and archeology experts believe that the statues were built to protect important areas. Similarly, the Great Sphinx of Giza was constructed to protect the three great pyramids of Giza i.e. the pyramids of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chefren) and Menkaura (Mycerinus).
Archaeologists also believe that this giant Sphinx was once colorful, with its face painted red and body painted blue and yellow. They also claim that the Sphinx once had a long beard and nose, which are now missing.
Great Sphinx of Giza History
Built in 2500 BC during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt is located on the Giza Plateau, directly opposite the Great Pyramid of Giza. Facing east, this stunning monument shines with the rising sun every morning and the Great Sphinx of Giza is 73 meters long and 20.21 meters high. The Sphinx was submerged under the desert and the first documented attempt to clear the sand was made with Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV in 1400 BC.
After a series of restoration processes, the massive structure was once again found buried up to its neck in sand when Napoleon came to Egypt in 1798. Later, several excavation projects were conducted by some people from 1816 to 1858 to clear the sand. Well-known antiquaries, including Giovanni Caviglia, Auguste Mariette and Gaston Maspero, were forced to abandon the process because of the sand.
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Best Time to Visit the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt
The Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt is located on the west bank of the Nile River in Giza, about 10 km west of Cairo. The Sphinx is located close to three large pyramids, called the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chefren) and the Great Pyramid of Menkaura (Mycerinus).
Needless to say, Egypt’s climate is generally hot throughout the year with temperatures rising as high as 68 degrees Fahrenheit in Cairo. Therefore, the best time to visit the Sphinx would be from October to April, when the temperatures are slightly moderate.
Facts related to the Great Sphinx of Giza
- Missing nose: Many stories and speculations revolve around the disappearance of the Sphinx’s one-meter nose. Some accused Napoleon and his troops of being the main culprits for destroying the nose when they came to Egypt in 1798. There is also a lot of documentary evidence that suggests that the nose of the Sphinx was destroyed by Muhammad Saim al-Dahr. Sufi Muslim leader of the 15th century. Muhammad was against people worshiping the Sphinx and in anger he destroyed the nose.
- The Sphinx also once had bread: Archaeologists claim that this monolithic statue once had a beard which was eventually destroyed due to natural sand erosion. The missing piece of bread was found between the front paws of the Sphinx in the 19th century, which is currently on display in the British Museum in London.
- This ancient statue was once multicolored: Although the Sphinx has suffered numerous wear and tear due to strong winds and thousands of years of erosion, there are some remains of red paint on the face of the statue, giving the impression that the Sphinx was once a colorful statue. You can also find some traces of blue and yellow color on the body of the Sphinx.
- It is one of the oldest and largest known sculptures on the planet: With massive dimensions of 73 meters long, 20.21 meters high and 19 meters wide, the Great Sphinx of Giza is the largest single sculptured statue in the world.
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Places to Visit near Great Sphinx of Giza
Possibly for the first time, with a series of excavation processes under the guidance of French engineer Emile Barizem between 1925 and 1936, sand was removed to expose the base of this monolithic sculpture. Here are the popular attractions to visit around the Great Sphinx of Giza:
1. Pyramids of Giza
An ancient wonder of the Egyptian civilization, the Pyramids of Giza will amaze you with their immense height and mysterious structure. This archaeological site includes the three great pyramids of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chefren) and Menkaura (Mycerinus). It is believed that around 100,000 workers were employed to complete the construction of this monolithic sculpture. You can also explore the interior corridors, chambers and galleries of the pyramids.
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2. Giza Zoo
If you are an animal lover, a visit to the stunning Giza Zoo is definitely an adventure worth returning for. The zoo is home to endangered animal species including Egyptian gazelles, mountain goats and rams and herons. The zoo is also home to many amazing species of birds such as ibis, lovebirds, flamingos, vultures, hawks and macaws. The Egyptian cobra, tortoise, Nile crocodile and American crocodile are some of the other endangered animal species found here.
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3. Rock Temple of Abu Simbel
Another monumental sculpture and Egypt’s top tourist attraction is the impressive Abu Simbel, located near Egypt’s border with Sudan. The four outdoor rock figures of Pharaoh Ramesses II seated on a throne at the entrance symbolize the grandeur and grandeur of Egyptian civilization. Due to severe floods the temple had to be shifted from its original location. It has been given the status of World Heritage Site protected by UNESCO.
4. Oasis of Siwa
Nestled amidst the sandy desert is the peaceful oasis of Siwa surrounded by hectares of palm trees and free-flowing freshwater springs. It is one of the most isolated settlements in Egypt and has approximately thirty thousand inhabitants. This remote paradise is very popular among travelers looking for a relaxing holiday in a tranquil environment. However, since this place is quite remote with minimal facilities, we do not suggest making a base at this location.
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How to reach the Great Sphinx of Giza?
by bus: If you are staying in the Tahrir Square area in the center of Cairo, you can easily reach the Sphinx via private buses available from the center to the Giza Pyramids. Traveling by bus will cost you about 2 LE (Egyptian Pound). There is a bus stand right behind the famous Egyptian Museum. You can also catch a micro-bus from the same bus stand but these buses are comparatively more crowded.
by taxi: If you prefer to travel comfortably and peacefully, consider hiring a private taxi from the centre. The nominal taxi charge is 30 LE (Egyptian Pound), but make sure you use your bargaining skills to get a good deal. If you are a solo female traveller, traveling by private taxis is highly recommended.
By Metro: The nearest metro station from Cairo to the Sphinx is Giza Metro Station which is located at a distance of 10 kilometres. Traveling via the metro is probably the cheapest, costing only 1 LE (Egyptian Pound).
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Known for its vibrant history, monolithic statues and pyramids, Egypt is undoubtedly a must-see attraction for travelers looking for adventure holidays. Apart from this, the country is also known for its medieval mosques and temples, exotic beaches, national parks and museums. For an exotic holiday in Egypt, the ancient land of the Pharaohs, contact TourTravelHotels now. Now it’s time to pack your bags!
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FAQs about the Great Sphinx of Giza
What is the symbolic meaning of the Sphinx?
The Sphinx is an ancient symbol associated with the Sun.
Who damaged the Sphinx?
Muhammad Saim al-Dahr damaged the Sphinx.
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