Less known and visited than Giza's pyramids, this is the older one discovered in Egypt.
The adjacent temple is interesting and well displayed. there are also a few and beautiful mastabas open to visit.
It's not easy going to Saqqara on your own or by public transport, so I booked a full-day tour that include the necropolis of Saqqara.
This is our second stop, coming from Memphis, and we drive through dates or palm plantation, got in the gate of the complex and my driver bought the ticket at EGP60 for the Imhotep Museum and the vast Saqqara necropolis.
The place is home to the very first pyramid - The Pyramid of Djoser, or popularly known as the Step Pyramid of Saqqara. There's a museum which I found out later that my driver did not inform me so I was not able to see it. In fact I discovered that this driver - that was provided by my hotel in Cairo (Museum View Hotel) skipped a lot of amazing sights.
Anyhow, Saqqara is a vast area of mostly desert with the step pyramid as its center attraction. There are other pyramids mostly ruined and like a small enclosure or ancient settlement just near the parking area.
There was an underground that you can explore, just be careful not to bump your head as I did. The local caretaker or maybe not will insist on guiding you for a tip.
The step pyramid is under reconstruction during my tour. (See pic).
There weren't much tourists around, in fact, I was the only one walking around the desert -- the wind blowing the sands, some got into my eyes -- or maybe they don't want to explore the area under the heat of the sun? I dunno, but the whole desert wass mine, then I saw some vehicles on the other parking lot near the mortuary area which again, my driver did not tell me - that there was some sights on the other side of the step pyramid, damn!
Saqqara is a huge area that has been used as a burial ground for thousands of years although much of it sill lies beneath the desert sands. Excavations have been carried out over some two hundred years.
The feature of the site is the step pyramid of Djoser, recogniseda s the world's oldest major stone structure. The pyramid, built in the 3rd Dynasty (aroaund 2630 BC), is set within a large complex. The only entrance is through the mortuary temple. A 10.5 meter wall, built of finely cut limestone and over a mile long, surrounds the complex.
Saqqara can be a 1/2 day trip from Cairo passing (or not if you wish) carpet schools, or can be added to a day at Giza.
Saqqara is located near the beginning of the Nile Delta. Saqqara is the burial grounds for the kings of the 3rd and 4th Dynasties
The Step Pyramid of King Djoser at Saqqara was built by the vizier Imhotep and was literally constructed in stages. King Djoser was the 2nd king of the 3rd Dynasty, he ruled from 2267-2648 B.C.
The shape of the pyramid is called a Mastaba, meaning it is a mud-brick tomb with a rectangular base and sloping sides with a flat roof. It stands 203 ft high and weighs over 200,00 tons. The base is 358 ft by 410 ft and sits on a total of 37 acres. Inside is a burial chamber with a vertical shaft leading to it. The entrance to the chamber was sealed with a 3-ton piece of granite
Behind the pyramid is a Serdab (meaning cellar in Arabic). the Serdab served as a chamber to house the Ka statue of a dead Pharoah. If you look inside you will see a statue of King Djoser.
The mummy of Mutnojmet, the sister of Queen Nefertiti was found here in Saqqara around 30 years ago. No one is clear how she got here.
Price: 60.00 L.E. (10.39 USD)
The pyramids at Giza impress by their size, simplicity and evident age. The archaeological remains of Saquara are infinitely more varied and size apart extraordinary than those at Giza.
The famous 'step-pyramid', the oldest known dressed stone construction in the world, is only the most spectacular of it's attractions. Indeed the site is so extensive that the authorities have divided it into two zones, each with separate coach parks and entry points.
I was on a quick day of pyramid hunting, and so only had a couple of hours to spare before heading south to Daishur, and so visited little. The step pyramid as mother of all stone architecture was what I had to see. I would have enjoyed the painted reliefs I saw more without the guide who insisted on accompanying me.
Tho photo is one of my very very favorites. It's the dog in the foreground that makes it.
This complex was designed by the architect Imhotep for his master Zoser , the founder of the third dynasty . Manetheo recorded that this king ruled for 29 years.
The Step Pyramid was built as the ancient Egyptians believe in resurrection. Zoser was buried in this pyramid according to the ancient Egyptian concept of life after death.
The step Pyramid of Sakkara is considered as an evolution in the concept of pyramids, from the simple mastaba to the pyramids in its final form in the region in Sakkara. It was built as step pyramid, its height is 60 meters and consists of 6 steps on top of each other, each is smaller than the one below.
The step pyramid is entirely built of limestone. They used small bricks of limestone, yes it is not the best quality of stone but it remained for more than 4700 years.
When you talk of Egypt it is very hard to grasp the words “the oldest.” Egypt has 97 known pyramids and the step pyramid of Sakkara is widely promoted as the oldest pyramid in Egypt.
Originally part of the great metropolis of Memphis, the Kings of the first and second dynasty are buried here. The step pyramid, however, was build in the third dynasty by King Djoser (or his slaves!) after it was designed by the architect Imothep.
As much as the Step pyramid is spectacular, Anne and I were very impressed with the tombs of the old kingdom which located here as well. In fact, you ust walk past them to enter the pyramid. Thse tombs are home to the most beautiful “reliefs” and hieroglyphics depicting daily life. These hieroglyphics are painted on masonry that appears as though it could have been laid only a few years ago!
When you first arrive at the Sakkara step pyramid you walk through two massive gates that protect this walled structure. You then walk through to a magnificently restore colonnade that has 40 columns.
As you can see by the picture, there are small rooms that contained statues which are said represented King Zoser, ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, and builder of the step pyramid.
When Anne and I walked between the columns we got a sense of what it was like to live in these times, especially once we walked through the columns and out into the open courtyard.
As I mentioned earlier, Anne and I were very impressed with the tombs of the old kingdom which are home to the most beautiful “reliefs” and hieroglyphics depicting daily life. These hieroglyphics are painted on masonry that appears as though it could have been laid only a few years ago!
One thing you learn very quickly in Egypt is that “most” of the guards, guides and tourist police are open to bribery. In fact, it seems to part of their every day life. You can offer a bribe for most “access” or “photographic” issues and the worst that can happen is that you are met with a polite “no.”.....How do you think I got these photographs!!!!
I went here to see the Zoser Step Pyramid.
Even more ancient (around 7000 yrs old) than the Giza Pyramids.
There are also other antiquities and tombs to see here.
I was advised not to bother paying extra for the Museum though - not much to see.
There is a little coffee shop with snacks on site.
As at March 2009: 60LE Adult entrance fee.
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