10 of the best - Man-made icons - 2. The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
The ‘WOW’ factor: Reflect for a few moments on the fact that these amazing structures were built around 2,560 years BC. The biggest of these is the Great Pyramid, which is also known as ‘being of Khufu’ (or Cheops, the Pharaoh’s Greek name), which is 481 feet tall (now 455 feet with erosion) and is unique in that it contains both ascending and descending passages. Scientists and mathematicians have established that it weighs a remarkable 5.9million tonnes and consists of 2.3million blocks of stone, assembled at a rate of 12 blocks per hour around the clock for 20 years.
Did you know?: It was the main spire at Lincoln Cathedral that replaced The Great Pyramid as the world’s tallest man-made structure, when it was completed around 1300AD, over 3,800 years later. Although it was always believed that slave labour built the pyramids, it has been revealed recently that tens of thousands of the workers were highly skilled artisans. Tourists enter the pyramid via the ‘Robbers’ Entrance’, believed to have been cut by Caliph al-Ma’mun around 820AD. Despite its dimensions, the pyramid is symmetrical and exactly 440 cubits (755.9 feet) on each side of its base, while being perfectly aligned with the four cardinal compass points.
Experience: Should you happen to be on holiday in Cairo, you might care to indulge in a private tour of The Great Pyramid. Viator operates an on-line booking service from around £29.88 for groups (up to £43 per person) and an experienced Egyptologist will be your
guide. As it is a private tour, you can spend however much time you wish exploring the ancient symbols and The Great Pyramid and two other tombs are included, although entry to them will cost extra. The same company can also include a visit to the Sphinx and a
papyrus maker. (www.viator.com)
Most holidays to this part of Egypt also involve the River Nile and other parts of the country and an Arabian Nights 7-days holiday taken in January 2013 can cost from £336 per person, residing in a 1-Star Cairo hotel. Yet, the Grand Pyramids Hotel, a 4-Star establishment, can cost from £390 per person, also flying from Heathrow. www.virginholidays.co.uk, www.kuoni.co.uk, www.monarch.co.uk, www.britishairways.com